April 2003 Archives

April 30, 2003

Happy Samhuinn (last week apparently)

Another cruel attack on a horse has been blamed on Pagans, this time in Northampton.

Jo McGurk, 59, from Kingsley in Northampton thinks the fact that the attack took place sometime between Easter Sunday and Easter Monday is significant.

So, it must've been Christians, right? After all, that's the only religious group which considers Easter to be significant.

The end of the pagan year falls over the Easter weekend and I think that the attack on my horse could be linked with this, says Jo, who approached his local paper, the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, in a bid to highlight the issue.

The sheer ludicrousness of this statement can be exposed by replacing the first six words with "Passover", which, unlike Samhuinn, did coincide with Easter this year. The poor horse suffered serious internal injuries after a broom was inserted in his rectum, though vets are pleased with his progress so far. Horror of 'sex attack' on horse - Horse and Hound, 29th April 2003.

April 29, 2003

Pagans banned in Edinburgh

Edinburgh City Council has gone ahead and wasted lots of money employing a private security firm to ensure that no-one uses the site associated with the festival to celebrate Beltaine. City bans public from Beltane hill - Edinburgh Evening News, 29th April 2003.

Note: I'm tempted to turn up, be refused onto the hill, and so just strip off and hold a ritual by the steps, by the main road.

April 23, 2003

Harry Potter on the shelf

Arkansas, United States: A judge has ordered a school district to return the Harry Potter books to library shelves after parents sued. Judge orders Harry Potter back onto shelves - Baxter Bulletin, 23rd April 2003.

April 22, 2003

Tories revert to type.

One of the religious extremists carrying allegedly Christian, hate-filled banners last time Pride Scotland was in Edinburgh has resurfaced as the Conservative party candidate for Edinburgh East and Musselburgh.

John Smart said that such events as Edinburgh Pride were 'absolutely abhorrent' which will be a real kick in the teeth to Scots Tory leader, David McLetchie, who last year sent the organisers a message of support to help rebrand the party as compassionate.

Smart, the bigot, who is the parliamentary candidate for Edinburgh East and Musselburgh also warned his party leadership to think again about its efforts to become more tolerant of minorities and said that the party must stand for 'family values'.

Smart was at last year's Pride—carrying a placard, which contained a religious verse. On the abolition of Section 28 in Scotland he said: I find quite horrendous the sort of materials being provided to impressionable youngsters in schools now. It is quite vile. The focus must be on marriage between a man and a woman. Homosexuality is morally wrong. It is certainly something that ought not to be promoted.

The other candidates in Edinburgh East and Musselburgh are: Kenny MacAskill, SNP; Susan Deacon, Labour; Gary Peacock, Liberal Democrat; Derek Durkin, SSP.

Gay Pride marches are 'abhorrent' according to ToryGay.com News, 22nd April 2003.

Update, many years later: Smart was personally responsible for Pride Scotia's continued existence. The people who organised the 2003 march got together after his remarks reminded them that no-one had organised a march for that year!

April 21, 2003

It's all so simple

Zarathrusta Speaks to tell us about the FINAL BATTLE: Knightly Orders Soon to Perish:

Many deceits and slights of hand have derailed scores of researchers delving into the occult and for this many have failed to uncover the slippery changes of power -- in endless cycles -- between the Hospitallers and the Templars, the Merovingians and the Carolingians, etc.
What most people do not account for in their search for the grail, is that there are two types of volcanoes on Earth, and one of them is very rare and seldom discussed. The basanite type volcano [as opposed to basaltic], is not sulfurous, it is calcitic!

Then there's the virus crystal things: Viruses resemble crystals so just think of affiliated 'creatures' as a mutation spawned from viruses, most probably from outer space originally. Salts. Virions. and, most unusually, the Dutch:

Think lily bulbs and tulip bulbs too, that seem to never die and spring back to life each year. Lily bulbs [e.g. tulips] go back to 2350 BC in written records. Most of them originally were grown at the same latitude worldwide in a circle around the northern hemisphere,linking Holland and Belgium to Japan [and oddly enough, to the Bermuda Triangle, for other reasons though].

Following me so far? Good, because This is how Mankind has been duped and defeated by the Knightly Orders, that are truly much like Insect Orders. It is time that they are booted out of our time-space continuum, forever.

Where is Saddam?

UFO Roundup offers one explanation of the whereabout of Saddam Hussain—the aliens have him.

The aliens told Saddam that they could not save his regime. However, because he had protected them from the Americans, they would show their appreciation by helping him and his family escape into space. They would not allow Saddam to fall into the hands of his enemies, the Zionists. A large UFO was summoned to Al-Ouja, and Saddam and his family departed. As to where they have fled, no one can say.

GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS--SADDAM FLED IRAQ IN A CYLINDRICAL UFO? - UFO Roundup, 16th April 2003. (Warning - turn off Javascript first).

Nobbled advice?

'sstory' is suspicious:

I think the creationists have initiated a campaign at Amazon to alter the recommendations. I went to my Amazon page, after noticing a book on Bottomquark, and in my personalized section, where I ordinarily get recommendations about scientific or historical books, because it's noticed these trends in my purchasing, there was this pile of recommendations for creationism books...
Now this didn't just happen by accident. Curious, I went to one of the creationism book's pages. There were lots of comments from readers, most with dozens of 'this review was helpful to me' indications.
It's clear from that evidence that they're trying to game the system to increase recommendations of creationism books, and it's successful.

Amazon Recommendations Influenced by Creationists? - Bottomquark science and technology news, 20th April 2003 (via BoingBoing)

Beltaine politicking

A candidate in the forthcoming Edinburgh City Council elections has sent the following letter to the press:

Having already killed off the popular Beltane Fire Festival, it seems that our City Nannies, supported by local Labour councillor Dougie Kerr, want to shut off Calton Hill to everybody just in case a few individuals wish to celebrate Beltane on their own account.
It seems that religious freedom means nothing to our culturally sensitive councillors - not unless that religious freedom pertains to the more conventional spiritualities.
Karen Hetherington
Liberal Party in Scotland Candidate
Calton Ward

Additional link: Liberal Party website

Tourists: spend your money in Glasgow instead.

Edinburgh City Council appear to be going to extremes to prevent anyone celebrating Beltaine this year. The Fire Festival has been cancelled and now the Council plans to seal off Calton Hill to prevent people having their own celebration. The official reason is that the dry weather means it could be a fire risk, but the drought has already broken, and it has been pouring down all day in Edinburgh.

City licensing convener Dougie Kerr, who is also the local councillor for the Calton Hill area, said he was concerned about the problem and would be looking into what might need to be done to stop unofficial celebrations.
We'll be looking at measures to ensure nothing takes place there this year. I've no problem with closing it off in the interests of public safety, he said.

Which will also annoy the regular users of this well-known cruising ground. The local council elections will be held on 1st May this year. Calton Hill fire fear on Beltane night - Edinburgh Evening News, 21st April 2003.

Leading pastor accused of witchcraft

Uganda: A well-known Christian minister has been accused of fraud and witchcraft by an American businesswoman who gave him money.

Pastor Kayiwa also is accused of being proud of his ability to punish (by cursing) those who challenge his power, demanding pornographic movies, selling off donations, and demanding a car when asked to pray for a horse in a £250,000-race.

The interview that never was makes fascinating reading. Pastor Accused of Witchcraft, Fraud - The Monitor (via allAfrica.com), 21st April 2003.

April 20, 2003

A tricky task for the detectives

West Bengal, India: A man who strangeled and decapitated a 50-year-old woman had been acting on the advice of a witch doctor who told him she had put a spell on his children.

After the village quack failed to cure his children, Kisku was advised by some friends to see a witch doctor who promised to help for a fee of Rs 1,200. [£16/€23]
The poor man arranged for the money and an elaborate ritual was conducted. At the end of it, the witch doctor pronounced that Kisku's worries were because of a woman relative who had cast an evil spell on his children.
The witch doctor warned that he would lose his family if she were not killed.

The man then took her head to the local police station and confessed to the crime. About 70 women are killed each year in West Bengal on suspicion of practising witchcraft. Man beheads 'witch', takes head to police - Hindustan Times, 20th April 2003.

Dictionary corner

This week's New Scientist letters page features a useful note from Brian Myres which explains the difference between a hypothesis and a theory, and observes how fundies take advantage of people not having paid attention when it was explained to them in school. The letter was inspired by the fact that the writer of a recent article hadn't been listening either, and neither had the sub-editors:

He tells us that Adam Heller proposed a radical theory, when all Heller is doing is hypothesising. He has no data. Yet scientific theories must have data to support them. Lawton then goes on to say that there's reason to believe this isn't just a clever theory. Now there's grist for Jerry Falwell's mill. Falwell is the minister who travels the US telling everyone that evolution is just a theory, and Lawton has now validated that stupid statement.

Theories aren't guesses - New Scientist, 19th April 2003.

April 19, 2003

Bargain of the Day: Money box

Because the vendor insists on using Flash, I cannot appreciate the true beauty of this FIRST COMMUNION>CHALICE BANK>BRAND NEW!!.


I believe Boston diocese is in particular need of cash right now...

April 18, 2003

Witch beliefs in Tanzania

Tanzania: A 72-year-old woman is in a critical condition in hospital after a 15cm nail was hammered into her skull by attackers who believed she was a witch. The nail is buried deep in her head and although she has regained consciousness after three days, doctors are pessimistic about her chances of survival.

Killings of elderly people, particularly women, due witchcraft beliefs is rife in Lake Victoria regions of Shinyanga and Mwanza despite efforts being made by the government to stop this practice.

Most of the victims are being killed because their eyes are reddish. This is seen as a sign that they are witches.

However, studies conducted in the areas indicate that the cause of such 'red eyes' is smoke from fuelwood used for cooking.

Head of Shinyanga woman pierced with six-inch nailThe Guardian (Tanzania), 18th April 2003.

This wouldn't happen in Greenland

Patna, India: The incoming Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Arjun Munda, moved into his official residence on Thursday. But first, the government splashed out on paying a Hindu priest to exorcise the evil spirits which had caused his predecessor's premature departure.

The chief minister will now complete his full term, said an optimistic Gauri Kant Thakur, a Hindu priest from Begusarai in Bihar, who performed the rituals for the grih pravesh. It was a worship of Vaastu Purush for prevalence of peace, he added. The grih pravesh also coincides with Munda completing one month in office on Thursday. The changes effected appeared simple yet tasteful. Ceramic tiles have now replaced the previous cement flooring with wall to wall carpeting.
The wooden staircase leading to the first floor, which was earlier south-west facing, proved to be inauspicious for Marandi and hence has been blocked now. The staircase now faces the north-east which, according to Thakur, will augur a problem-free regime for Munda.

The cost of the exorcism was between 800,000 and 1, 000, 000 rupees. ( £10,731 - £13, 414 or €15,494 - €19, 367). Evil spirits gone, CM Munda moves in - The Times of India, 18th April 2003.

April 17, 2003


United States: Notorious Christian anti-gay organisation Focus on the Family has had to slash budgets and make staff redundant because it's short of cash. Anti-gay organisation falls on hard times - gay.com news, 17th April 2003.

Bargain of the Day: Fractal jesus

Faith suffering? Having trouble taking the far-fetched claims of the Easter story seriously? What you need is The Believe Print, as seen on TV.

One of the most beautiful pieces of art of our Lord Jesus Christ ever produced, The Believe Print is a Limited Edition 18 X 24 lithograph print of the face of Jesus. Professionally printed on a gorgeous lithograph type stock, this print from a distance appears to be an INCREDIBLY sharp fine art black and white print of Jesus. BUT, when you get up close to it, you will notice that the print is ACTUALLY MADE UP OF OVER 1500 SMALLER EASILY VISABLE CRYSTAL CLEAR *FULL COLOR* Religious, inspirational and nature images. Thats right. FULL COLOR smaller images make up this incredible BLACK AND WHITE print! Over 4000 prints have been sold to date and there is a limited printing of 10,000 worldwide. It has to be seen to be believed! This item makes a fantastic Easter gift for those special people in your life who are going through a tough time right now, or just appreciate the power of The Lord.

More 'witch' killings

Guwahati, India: Four people have been arrested after three members of the same family were hacked to death by a mob who accused them of witchcraft.

It was believed Naotia was a practicing sorcerer and through his black magic he had cast evil spells on villagers, prompting a group within the village to eliminate them, the spokesman said.

3 hacked to death over witchcraft allegations - Hindustan Times, 17th April 2003.

April 16, 2003

Free Religion Foundation

The Open Source Haggadah is the prototype site for a much bigger project, Open Source Judaism, which hopes to invigorate enquiry into Jewish texts and encourage commentary.

We propose that Judaism is not simply a religion to be believed in, but one to be considered, discussed, and evolved. Jewish texts and rituals are not closed, but open to commentary, disagreement, and even revision. Judaism was established as a form of inquiry rather than a set of answers - yet, due to many circumstances - this spirit of inquiry has waned over the past several decades, particularly in America.

The site also contains a brief explanation of Passover, which starts at sunset today, and why the rituals associated with it make such a good choice for the project:

Part of what makes Passover unique--and such a terrific place to begin practicing a more participatory and collaborative form of Judaism--is the extent to which our interpretations of this holiday vary. Perhaps because the Seder is performed in the home, around a familiar table, people have felt more comfortable doing it their own way than other, synagogue based rituals. That's what makes it ideal for an "open source" inquiry.

(via BoingBoing).

Note: Proof of the Conspiracy! This is the 666th post in the Prattle.

April 15, 2003

Bargain of the Day: Plush baby deities

God Squad and Friends are a range of plush deities aimed at children. Or rather, Jesus Comes 2 Play and Jesus Goes Fishing are special depictions of religious figures when they were children themselves, with some added contemporary elements. They apparently sing as well. The range also includes an ice-hockey playing Moses, and Buddhists have a choice of Lucky Buddha or Prince Siddharta. No sign of Horny Herne though, so I suppose I'll have to stick with my plush Cthulhus (via Holy Weblog).

Not dead or anything

Sorry about the lack of updates recently, but I got distracted into drawing a comic. Normal service will now resume.

April 11, 2003

Bloody kids.

South Africa: 36 schoolchildren are being questioned by police in Kanyamazane after a riot at their school. The riot started after a teacher was accused of using witchcraft to kill three children at the school, who had recently died in a traffic accident. Riot as teacher accused of withcraft (sic.) - iAfrica.com, 11th April 2003.

April 10, 2003

The thick plottens

South Africa: A man accused of abducting and sexually abusing three children in Satanic rituals has asked to reopen his case to allow an expert witness on false allegations of abuse to be called. And in a strangely familiar twist, it turns out that the children only started to make the allegations after their mother started attending prayer meetings.

Hugo said the children's mother - who described a serious of strange and inexplicable events at her home, including her children going into trances, talking about devils and one of her sons chasing his siblings with an axe - was gullible.
Her prayer meetings to free her children from evil had probably left an indelible impression on them, Hugo argued.

The accused, Robin Malcolm Classen, is heavily tattooed and feels he is being persucuted because of his unusual appearance. He denies he is a Satanist and said that he only has a passing interest in the occult. 'Satanist' may reopen case - News24, 10th April 2003.

Islamic 'exorcism'

New Zealand: A man accused of killing an elderly cleaner at a mosque has pleaded not guilty due to insanity. Psychiatrists agree that Mohamed Hussein was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the killing. But he took a rather unconventional course of treatment:

He knew he was unwell and asked some Muslim men from Australia who were sleeping at the mosque for help.
In the week before the incident they conducted a number of religious procedures to make evil spirits leave Hussein. The last was done the night before the killing.

Insanity plea over mosque cleaner's killing - NZPA (via Stuff), 11th April 2003.

Anti-semitism in the former Soviet Union

Belarus: Trades unions and Jewish organisations are protesting about the distribution of a newspaper which they claim is anti-semitic and perpetuates the blood libel.

An edition of Russkii Vestnik [Russian Newsletter] appeared at the end of March exaggerating the myth that Jews use sacrificial blood for ritual purposes, the appeal reads. Those making the appeal believe that the newspaper was deliberately trying to cause national and religious hostility and should be punished in accordance with article 130 of the criminal code in Belarus.

Jewish Organisations in Belarus Protest against Distribution of 'Anti-Semitic' Russian Newspaper - Pravda, 10th April 2004.

Synchronised suicides

Russia: Pravda notes some eerie coincidences in a number of recent suicides in the city of Severodvinsk and speculates that mystical forces are at play.

There is something mystical about an incident that happened in the Russian city of Severodvinsk in the Arkhangelsk region. Two men committed suicide on Monday, April 7, at around midday, almost at the same time. Another man tried to hang himself at around the same period of time, although his wife managed to take him down and save him.
Two women cut their wrists almost at the identical moment on April 8 (the two women did not know of each other's existence; they lived in opposite parts of the city). In addition, a young man and a young girl (who also did not know each other) tried to take poison yesterday.
Doctors have also made statements about the deaths of two men who hung themselves on Monday. The two men lived on different streets, although their apartment buildings had the same number - 12. This appears to be rather mystical as well.

In Arkhangelsk Region, Mystical Suicides Take Place - Pravda, 10th April 2003.

Charles and Di were never this interesting

Malaysia: A princess has appeared in court to testify that she did not order a group of witchdoctors to kill her husband's second wife, insisting she only asked them to lift a spell on her husband which had caused him to go cold towards her and behave strangely. One of the witchdoctors admitted manslaughter and is now serving 14 years in prison. The (incredibly bizarre) case continues. Royal fairytale bewitched by sex and vampires - IOL, 10th April 2003; Mat Saad kept spell between his fingers, court told - Utusan Online, 4th April 2003.

Bargain of the Day: Holy pencil sharpeners

Are you fed up of people mocking your literalist faith and implying you're not the sharpest pencil in the box? Silence those annoying people when you buy these PRAYING HANDS PENCIL SHARPENERS NEW NIB!


Reading the package carefully, they mean Dickson's Inspirational Gifts, a company founded in 1944 in the belief that scriptural reminders should be everywhere.

April 9, 2003

Bargain of the Day: Religious sports pencils

The Jesus sports statues are well-known. Why not accompany them with these Wooden Religious Sports Pencils NWT?

Wooden Religious Sports Pencils still in package. Never been opened! Assorted designs. One dozen in the package. Pencils are printed with bright, vibrant colors.

A different message on each pencil. God Is My Coach!, Everybody Wins With God!, Tackle Life With Jesus!, Don't Foul Out With The Lord!, God Is My Goalkeeper!, and Hit A Homerun With God!. These make great gifts for children or grandkids. Also great items for Sunday School or Bible School!

Bargains of Yesterday

Relive the 1950s with this genuine 1955 FUN WITH LOTTO A BIBLE GAME:

You are bidding on a vintage and dated 1955 FUN WITH LOTTO....A BIBLE GAME produced by May Smith. It is marked as a Zondervan product. The box contains 16 lotto cards with various names from Bible history. There are a number of smaller markers with various questions relating to the bible. Would make for a great learning tool for children and a great memory refresher for the adults who play with them. I don't know if the set came with directions, but there aren't any present. Just playing it like your normal Lotto or Bingo would do the trick. The contents are in good condition. The box is completely intact with a bit of missing paper and a bit of edge and corner wear.

The box artwork is a delightful period piece. Even older is this ~~Vintage Tablecloth~Crocheted Prayer~ featuring a well-known Scottish grace:

Here is a tablecloth of white cotton. It has a 3" border hem and inside the border is a crocheted border of 3" that is a payer written in the crochet. It says: Some hae meat that canna eat, And some wad eat that want it, But we hae meat and we can eat, And sea the Lord be thank it..Amen The prayer is spelled correctly and may be Gaelic, Scottish Anglican or was just done with an accent. I believe this is from c. 1910, but not positive. Freshly laundered and pressed. Measure 50 X 50.

April 8, 2003

God does nothing.

Arizona, United States: A man has gone to court in Tucson to try and claim his brother's body so he can arrange a proper funeral which the widow cannot afford. But it's the background to this sad tale which is interesting. Friends of James Killeen went to the police after they were unable to contact him. When officers entered his house they found members of his church, including his wife, praying over his body for his resurrection. He had been dead for at least three weeks. The cause of death was not directly stated by the newspaper, but they imply rather heavily that he might have starved after fasting as part of his beliefs. Brother in court today to claim Tucsonan's body - Tucson Citizen, 8th April 2003.

Bargains of the Day: Christian game, art and cap

The vendor of this lot of two Religious Paddleball Games doesn't have a lot to say about the product, just each of the 2 new games are in the original sealed package and the wooden paddles measure 9" picture below........................... The picture says it all, though.

The Bargain of the Day for 8th October 2002 was a picture of Jesus made from the words of John's gospel. Turns out it wasn't such an original idea. An example from 70 years ago is this UNIQUE Picture of Jesus Praying using script.

In 1929 a woman was inspired by God to draw this picture of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. Her unique style of

shading by hand lettering


all the recorded words that Jesus spoke in the New Testament.

It is truly a rare treasure and a vision brought to light by the Spirit of God.

To View a Better picture of item cut and paste this address in your browser address bar:


This auction is for the print only.

Finally, an example of the sort of thing that inspired the satire below - an Onward Christian SOLDIERS OF THE LORD Cap !

One for Youself -- One for a Loved One in Iraq ! We'll ship ANYWHERE in the World and Mail to our Armed Forces ships standard mail - US Rate !

The cap is available in four colours and, as a special bonus, you will also receive A Limited Edition 'Bring out Troops home Safe' Pin at no charge. And they offer a teaser, but no link: Please see also our INDIE Christian radio comp 1999 RARE OOP Sealed CD now on eBay featuring, who else ? - SOLDIERS OF THE LORD ! The vendor has seven pages of other auctions.

Not the Bargain of the Day

Fed up with the way the US flag has been exploited by The Marketing Scum, Barry of Total Obscurity brings us Flag-o-Rama! Patriotic items for fanatical flagwavers.

Hammer of Justice - It's hammer time! Whether you're building a new church or constructing a killer new spice rack in your basement, you can be sure that your nails will be driven with the power of an all-American hammer. And if you're in the mood, this baby is awesome for braining non-flagwavers and other anti-American scum.

Women have some products to meet their special needs in the Udderly American Breastpump and Tampax™ Tampons of Glory. Some nice Photoshoppery here.

An idea for Railtrack

Kanpur, India: Railway workers are being offered regular yoga and meditation sessions as a means of reducing accidents caused by human error.

Taking the lead, the North-Eastern Railway have started yoga camp at the Anwarganj railway station here as the officials reasoned that staff having cool and fresh mind could ensure safe and smooth train movement. The report of medical examinations came as an eye-opener for the Railways. The report declared nearly 35 drivers and guards unfit for their jobs, said S K Suri, superintendent of the Anwarganj railway station. Most of the staff is suffering from diabetes and irregular heart beat.
The running staff suffering from such ailments are prone to commit mistakes leading to accidents, he added. It is first time in the history of N-E Railway when such meditation or yoga camps were being organised at a railway station to make its staff tension and stress free said Suri. We have created a complete peaceful atmosphere in the 'dhyan-kaksha' where guards and drivers of different trains will take a complete rest and make themselves fit, he added.

Yoga and meditation for NER staff - Times of India, 7th April 2003.

Barking mad fundies

India: A well known television personality and her husband have been reported to the police after naming their dog Sardar Ruginder Singh Bedi. The name is a combination of Sikh honorifics and a name associated with the religion's founder's clan. Ironically, the star is herself a Sikh from the Bedi clan. 'Please Sikh another name for your dog' - IOL, 8th April 2003.

Going straight

Work has begun to straighten two of the stones at Avebury, which had started to lean at a perilous angle. The 5m stones are estimated to weigh 50tonnes each. Work to straighten huge standing stones begins - Ananova, 8th April 2003.

Chicken it out

Chile: Vets are investigating the sudden and mysterious deaths of a number of chickens, but the farmers do not share the vets' confidence that there is a normal explanation.

Cristina Saldia and Carmen Cortes, owners of two of the farms, told La Cuarta online: It is spooky, there wasn't a drop of blood left inside the chickens. Some say it was a vampire and others that it was an alien.

Farmers blame vampire for chicken deaths - Ananova, 4th April 2003.

More from Gay.com

Gay.com has a couple of interesting news stories today. Group fights deportation of Palestinian gays concerns the negotiations going on to allow gay Palestinians to claim asylum in Israel.

As in many Muslim countries, being gay in the Palestinian territories is treated as a crime against Islam. In most cases non-state actors, like the family, become the judge, jury and juror to decide a gay person's fate. Reports of Nazi-style treatment of openly gay Palestinians are common.

The article focuses on the case of 'Tarek', who is on trial for being in Israel without a permit and who faces death if he is deported to the Gaza Strip. He told Lior Mencher, the head of Aguda -- the Association of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgendered in Israel, I escaped from Gaza and came to Israel to live ? not to be returned to be killed. ? Where is someone to help me?

In the United States, extremist Christians are campaigning to have tomorrow's Day of Silence cancelled.

Organised by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, the day involves students, faculty and staff taking a vow of silence to protest that harassment and discrimination can silence gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students in school.

Last year, over 150,000 people in 2000 schools took part. A number of groups who call themselves Christian have gone out of their way to prove the organisers' point. Steve Klein, of Courageous Christians United said:

This silence is ironic considering that sexual deviants, who compromise a tiny percentage of the general population, are among the most vocal and aggressive special-interest groups working to impose their fascist vision of unfettered sexual license on the majority of decent, moral citizens.

Other groups interpret the silence as a means of turning children homosexual! Clearly they believe that gay sex is so much better than the straight variety that anyone getting the slightest hint that it might exist is likely to want nothing else ever again.

Right wing bigots try to cancel Gay Day Of SilenceGay.com, 8th April 2003.

Phelps fails to protest (again)

Fred Phelps has gone back on a promise to picket a London performance of The Laramie Project for a second time. Over 100 activists, from OutRage!, the NUS, GALHA, Queeruption, Durham LGBTA, Salford LGB, Ladyfest London, and International Wages Due Lesbians were disappointed. "Fags" frighten off PhelpsGay.com, 7th April 2003. See also Phelps fails to protestPagan Prattle, March 12th 2003.

April 7, 2003

Christian Aid

Iraq: A US Army chaplain is refusing to give water to those who need it unless they sit through a long sermon and are baptised first.

In this dry desert world near Najaf, where the Army V Corps combat support system sprawls across miles of scabrous dust, there's an oasis of sorts: a 500-gallon pool of pristine, cool water.
It belongs to Army chaplain Josh Llano of Houston, who sees the water shortage, which has kept thousands of filthy soldiers from bathing for weeks, as an opportunity.
It's simple. They want water. I have it, as long as they agree to get baptized, he said.

The chaplain has also hoarded fruit for future use. Army chaplain offers baptisms, baths, Miami Herald, 4th April 2003.

April 3, 2003

Bargain of the Day: Jesus candle lamp

Fresh on eBay today is this Candle lamp, Jesus appears when candle lit!:

Unique Millenium Jesus Candle lamp As the candle heats the brass background, a portrait of Jesus appears. Each 6 inch heavy weighted brass product comes with it's own candle to make Jesus miraculously appear! Well, it is very unique and it is one of a kind. Special thermal technology will enable the picture of the cross to change into the picture of Jesus when the candle is lit and certain temperature is reached. Once the candle is off, the picture of the cross will appear again. When the candle is on, you will see Jesus. It works again and again. There is nothing like it on the market. No other store down the street carries it. Just in time for Easter and then enjoy it all year around? (CANDLE INCLUDED)

Offerings to Darwin

Osaka, Japan: Incense burning on a Buddhist altar has been pinpointed as the likely cause of a fire which killed a 73-year-old woman. Buddhist altar eyed as source of fatal Osaka blaze - Mainichi Daily News, 3rd April 2003.

Holy sewers

Vadodara, India: Squatters are being blamed for turning a pond sacred to the god Varundev' into an open sewer, but civic authorities believe it is the fault of the locals who have extended their drainage lines into the pond. The problem isn't limited to small, local sacred sites though. A Public Accounts Committee has criticised various government departments over pollution in the Ganga.

They also stressed on the need of community participation in cleaning the polluted river and said that not only political or social but religious groups too should come forward to create awareness among people about the cleaning of Ganga.

Pond revered by Sindhis turns into sludge lake - Times of India, 3rd April 2003; Committee raps officials for pathetic Ganga - Times of India, 2ndApril 2003; Hand over Ganga cleaning to the army: PAC - Times of India, 2nd April 2003.

The lurkers support me in e-mail

United States: A lone fundie is trying to get the Harry Potter books banned from his local schools, and Antonio Rivera even claimed massive, but anonymous support for his campaign.

Why in the world [would] we want to teach our children witchcraft and sorcery? Rivera asked the board.

Rivera, who does not have any children, said he represented several reformed Protestant churches in the Fair Haven community, but would not name them.

The school board was not impressed.

It has been a phenomenal success in getting kids excited about reading, said Catherine Sullivan-DeCarlo, director of communications for New Haven Public Schools.

We're not doing anything different, she said, adding that this was the only request the school system had received to remove the books.

Board of Education President Carlos Torre said at the meeting that there is a difference between a book about a sorcerer and a book that teaches sorcery. Nevertheless, he did volunteer to meet with concerned citizens if necessary.

Resident calls for removal of 'Harry Potter'Yale Daily News, 3rd April 2003. See also the same newspaper's editorial on the matter: First Amendment under fire and brimstoneYale Daily News, 3rd April 2003.

April 2, 2003

Bargain of the Day (Pagan edition)

Just the thing if you worship an Earth Goddess - a non-biodegradable plastic Pentacle Cross-stitched Mug.

Need a great gift for that special Wiccan friend? Want an unusal item for yourself? How about showing a sign of your faith at the office or around the coffee pot? Well, this is it. A hand made cross stitched design of black pentacles surrounds this plastic mug which is also black inside. Bacground is white and the words And it harm none are beautifully worked in red. Tag still on cup which listed for over $5.00 without the stitching. Don't miss this one of a kind item.

Despite claims, what you get is pentagrams, and not a depiction of a Pentacle.

Bargains of the Day: Patriotic religious tat

Despite claims to the contrary, a signficant number of people are convinced that the US is engaged in a holy war, and appropriate tat is beginning to surface. Take this for instance (via Making Light); or this T-shirt from Bailey Family Ministries; or this 14kt Gold Plated Cross with American Flag Pin. And when the oil supplies have been secured, you can demonstrate how holy your gas-guzzler is with this **PT CRUISER, 3RD LIGHT GRAPHIC **JESUS**, an

Easy to apply vinyl graphic decal for a 3rd brake light. Comes with easy to follow instructions to apply to the inside of the glass in front of the 3rd brake light on the rear hatch. These graphics are made of a quality vinyl rated to 175 degrees and will last for years. Even though they are permanent, they can be removed easily.

Still, with all this nationalist and militarist nonsense, there's still room for the more familiar kind of tat, like this metal cozy country church with revolving steeple, which stands 13.5 inches high and plays Amazing Grace.

Update, 3rd April 2003, 12:28: Teresa Neilsen Hayden has been searching for more of this stuff and found lots.

Crystal Faze

The Sci-Fi Channel in the US is to show Mad Mad House, a rather bizarre game show:

This show puts contestants into Alt Manor, a house inhabited by a vampire, a witch, a voodoo priest, a yoga master and a psychic, where the contestants must compete in a series of increasingly bizarre challenges to claim a grand prize.

SCI FI Gets Real - SciFi.com, 2nd April 2003.

George Bush is the Antichrist

Trebor has put together this page, Nice Guy? or the Devil's Spawn, to demonstrate that George W. Bush is the Antichrist.

I first posted this almost two years ago to sound the alarm. Tragically, nobody listened. Now, eight months after stealing the election and assuming power, the stock market has crashed, people are losing their jobs, the World Trade Center is gone, and our nation is heading off to fight a bloody Holy War in the Middle East. Suddenly, nobody is laughing anymore.

Now if only he'd spend some time honing his Photoshop skills...

Witch hunting in Nepal

Nepal: Several members of one familiy allegedly tried to burn a 76-year-old neighbour alive after accusing her of being a witch. Other villagers put the fire out before any serious damage was caused. According to the victim, a member of the accused family had earlier been caught trying to steal from her home. 'Witch-hunters' strike again - Kathmandu Post, 2nd April 2003.

Through the crystal ball

Pravda has taken a look at the astrological and other mystical coincidences surrounding the war in Iraq, and declares Four omens predict grand political, financial, economic changes in the world . One of these omens is the loss of the Columbia:

The tragedy with the Shuttle of Columbia (February 1) took place about fifty days before the launch of the army operation in Iraq. The catastrophe happened around the new moon period, like the first eclipse (December 6th of the past year). A lot of people noticed something mystical about the shuttle crash. For example, the shuttle blew up above George W. Bush's home state - Texas. The shuttle with the first Israeli astronaut on board went to pieces not far from a small Texan town of Palestine. To crown it all, the Israeli astronaut took a direct part in the operation that was conducted by the Israeli Air Force in 1981 -- to destroy a nuclear reactor in Iraq. He also participated in other actions of the Israeli aviation in the Middle East. The Russian space giant Rosaviacosmos paid attention to the fact that the shuttle did not fly to the International Space Station. Columbia was meant to conduct technical and technological experiments in space. The Russian space company did not rule out that some of those experiments were conducted according to the Pentagon's program that was connected with the operation against Iraq. Furthermore, specialists compared the shuttle's crash with the explosion of a chemical bomb on the territory of the United States, and which is desperately sought for in Iraq. Certain calculations of lunar groups of the February new moon tragedy allow to predict shocking events that might occur in the United State and in Israel during September-October of the current year, as well as between June-July of 2004, and March-April of 2005.

B. Romanov of Petersburg Forecasts states that the US Dollar will begin a catastrophic crash in July this year and that all omens show the period from August to December of 2002, from May to August of 2004 and from April to May of 2005 -- grand military, political, economic and financial changes in the world. The Mystical Side of the Iraqi War - Pravda, 2nd April 2003.

Fluffy bunny Goddess at work

New Delhi, India: A 19-year-old youth has been charged with murder after he beheaded his 10-year-old friend as an offering to the goddess Kali. He told police he was only obeying Her orders. Indian teen sacrifices boy to goddess - IOL, 2nd April 2003.

How to win friends and influence people

Kenya: An Anglican Bishop has threatened to burn a sacred python believed to be a harbinger of good tidings by the Nyakach. Elders are also upset that their community has been portrayed as devil worshippers by the Church. Instead, they plan to build a park to house the snake and charge admission. Keep Off 'Sacred' Snake, Elders Warn Cleric - The East African Standard (via allAfrica.com), 1st April 2003.

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