March 2004 Archives

March 31, 2004

A heap o' shi'ite

Kuwait: According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Shi'ite cleric has called for the broadcast of The Passion of the Christ because it reveals crimes committed by Jews against Christ. The Center's response, though, does not seem to acknowledge that not all Muslims are extremist loons:

Ayatollah Mohammed Baqer al-Mehri's reasoning makes it clear that his interest is in fostering hatred towards Jews more than anything else, said Rabbi Marvin Hier, Dean and Founder of the SWC. We said all along and it comes as no surprise to us that Moslem countries will do all they can to help this film for the very reason the Ayatollah stated, Hier concluded.

The Center also critiscised the Greek media for publishing cartoons it charges are anti-semitic, though most of them seem merely to be unfunny, in extremely poor taste, and aimed firmly at the policies of the Israeli government, and especially Ariel Sharon, rather than Jews in general.

On March 23rd , Eleftheroptypia published three such cartoons, the first depicting Israel's Prime Minister Sharon and US president George Bush dressed as Nazi officers with swastikas on their uniforms and both shooting pistols. Sharon is portrayed in Der Strumer-like caricuture, while President Bush looks like monkey...
One of the reported cartoons is definitely racist, repeats the notorious Blood Libel, and is possibly inspired by A Certain Film:
The woman in the first box asks: Why did the Jewish Government kill a religious leader?The man answers, They are practicing for Easter.

LEADING KUWAITI AYATOLLAH URGES BROADCASTING OF 'PASSION' - Simon Wiesenthal Center press release, 29th March 2004; IN AFTERMATH OF YASSIN KILLING, WIESENTHAL CENTER: GREEK MEDIA'S ANTISEMITIC ONSLAUGHT CONTINUES UNABATED... TRAVEL ADVISORY TO STAY - Simon Wiesenthal Center press release, 30th March 2004;

Rennes le Chateau

France: Undiscovered is a nice looking site that reports on unusual Fortean style events, and takea a particular interest in a 19th century priest in France who built a lavish church, Rennes le Chateau, which is full of still-undeciphered symbols.

Basically there is a lot of lunacy out there (but where isn't there these days?) and there does seem to be quite a lot of persuasive evidence that the subject itself inspires a kind of madness, but once you get beyond the lunacy that has grown up around the subject the facts are quite straightforward.

Goat Collecting Buddhist

United States: Usually when goats are mentioned around here it's in the context of silly buggers killing them. This time it's a wingnut goat collector who blames his obsessive goat collecting problem on his religion — Buddhism.

State officials are investigating a man whose goats and his religious convictions against killing them have collided in a possibly inhumane and definitely stinky way.
There were three goats on the farm Chris Weathersbee's mother bought seven years ago. Now there are 300 — including 70 living in his house, much of which is covered with a mix of goat droppings and hay.

March 30, 2004

Bargain of the Day: Passover frog pin

Passover starts on the 5th, and just in time is this *Green FROGS!* Adorable Passover Pin!!!! (Judaica). Even though it is quite cute, and not obviously religious tat, the Prattle's Jewish tat correspondent assures me it is religious tat due to the marketing:

AAAUUUGGGHHH! IT'S THE SECOND PLAGUE!!!!!!
***SO CUTE!!***
Passover is coming! What a fun thing to wear for Passover, or if you love frogs!
All of my jewelry is handmade of colorful polymer clay *by me*. These frog pins measure approximately 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Since these pins are handmade, they will all be exactly alike, only different!! ; )

Matching earrings are available, and the vendor apparently makes fun jewellery for all the Jewish holidays. There must be one or two for which 'fun jewellery' is singularly inappropriate.

QayStvaD tlinganpu'

Star Trek's Klingons are a warrior race, not known for their design skills, as Klingons for Christ amply demonstrates.

Klingons for Christ is a place to discover the teachings of Christ in a new light. No disrespect to any faith, race, aliens, or fans is intended. But the way of the Klingon Warrior can, and should, include the teachings of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

I was going to file it under 'Intentional Humour', but then I read the Statement of Purpose:

Klingons for Christ is a website designed by John DeVera as a personal witness to the divinity and Lordship of Jesus Christ. Christianity and Christians, though, are not isolated in warm and comfortable cocoons waiting for the return of Christ in glory. Rather, we are to be IN the world, but not OF the world. This presents an incredible challenge, and a wonderful opportunity...
...It occurred to me that, in many ways, the Christian is much like a Klingon. Of course, unlike our alien counterparts, we do not go after our enemies with batlh'etlh, and our enemies do not normally use phasers, photon torpedoes or disruptors. No, the Christian's battle is against the forces of darkness, a far more noble and serious battle than taking out a Romulan listening post.
And so I have attempted to present an idea to engage your minds and pummel your hearts. I hope that there is much within this electronic epistle to engage you. If much of the site appears to be a light and spiritual-free zone, I hope that you will forgive me for indulging my hobbies. If the site appears too preachy, I hope you will forgive me for being too blunt and graceless in my presentation of the Gospel: the Good News of Jesus Christ.

I'm not sure the comparison is one Christians would want to encourage.

March 29, 2004

Vegetarianism not Satanic, after all

Cambodia: A man has cut off his own penis, but not because of any Christian guilt, or because God told him to, but because he needed to feed some visiting spirits and had no other meat to offer them.

According to police, 33-year-old Soun Ney told the spirits to go away when they first appeared to ask for food, and waved his penis at them in defiance.
Devils, I don't have any chicken or duck for you, he was quoted as saying by local police chief Phoeung Vat. If you want to eat anything, you can eat my penis.
Soun Ney said the spirits agreed to eat his penis. He was rushed to a hospital near the capital Phnom Penh after he castrated himself with a butcher's knife.

Cambodian cuts off penis to feed spirits - Yahoo! News, 29th March 2004 (via The Cult of Father Darwin).

Child Witches Murdered

Angola: Many children seem to be cursed these days in the impoverished hinterlands of Angola — accused of witchcraft by their loony fundie families, then systematically abused, abandoned and even killed for imagined acts of witchcraft.

The scale and viciousness of the attacks on so-called criancas feiticeiras, or child witches, confounds even hardened human-rights workers in the war-haunted country, and some said the abuse is one of the most disturbing outbreaks of domestic violence seen in Africa in recent years.
In Uige, a sleepy hill town near the Congo border, children's advocates said that a teenager accused of sorcery was set ablaze by a mob that included his own relatives. Another boy was buried alive, beneath the corpse of a man he allegedly hexed, rights workers said. The luckier children are merely banished from their homes. They roam the streets like pariah dogs, surviving hand-to-mouth off food scraps from the markets.

Conspicuous Compassion

United Kingdom: One of the more annoying fundie traits that shits me no end, is their boundless ability to see someone in distress and use the bandaid of I'll pray for you to give themselves a warm and fuzzy feeling while not getting off their arses and actually helping. Alas it seems this problem is creeping into general society with a plague of conspicuous compassion.

According to a recent study, people who wear ribbons to show empathy with worthy causes and mourn in public for celebrities they have never met are part of a growing culture of ostentatious caring which is about feeling good, not doing good.

The report by thinktank Civitas argues that the trend towards public outpourings of compassion reveals not how altruistic society has become, but how selfish.

March 28, 2004

Let's get some discussion going.

Two questions sprung to mind recently:

  1. If The Passion of the Christ had been a horror film, with the same level of violence, would it have got a certificate from the British Board of Film Censorship Classification? and
  2. At the same time, an interesting compilation of early French erotic films has received an R18 certificate which limits sales to adults in licensed sex shops only. So why does the BBFC and, it seems, society in general, consider gratuitous, graphic violence to be more acceptable than adults having lots of fun with one another?

The floor is yours.

Thought for the day

Canada: The former religious editor of the Toronto Star has published a book, and I think we can safely say that fundies won't like it. Its basic thesis is that Christ is a mythological character, and should be understood as such, and that Christianity built on what had gone before, then tried to deny it violently.

The Church of the 3rd and 4th centuries, when challenged by its Pagan critics as to the real sources of its gospels, dogmas, and rites, reacted with fierce hostility, systematically hunting down and eliminating all traces of its Pagan past. It hounded anyone, whether Christian or not, who bore witness to the old truths. It closed down the traditional, Pagan philosophical schools, persecuted those involved in the various popular Greco-Roman Mystery Religions, burned hundreds of thousands of books, and hurled the charge of heresy -- with its penalty of excommunication -- at any who threatened to question the orthodox party line. Many were put to death. The Pagan inheritance was everywhere hotly denied. This was the beginning of a violent process that was to recur over the centuries and eventuate in a Christianity that Frye once bluntly described as a ghost with the chains of a foul historical record of cruelty clanking behind it. Studying this attempt to squelch the truth in detail for the first time was a profound shock for me.

Today there is no longer any excuse for any hierarchy to ignore the truth of what has actually transpired. The record is now plain for all to see. Not only did the early Christians take over almost completely the myths and teachings of their Egyptian masters, mediated in many cases by the Mystery Religions and by Judaism in its many forms, but they did everything in their power, through forgery and other fraud, book burning, character assassination, and murder itself, to destroy the crucial evidence of what had happened.

Don't Panic

United States: An American Airlines flight had to be cancelled after someone describing themselves as a psychic warned there might be a bomb on board. The plane was searched with sniffer dogs after the psychic called in the tip. Nothing was found but, by the time the search was done, the crew were out of hours and unable to operate the flight.

The purported psychic's call was unusual, conceded Doug Perkins, local administrator for the federal Transportation Security Administration director.
But in these times, we can't ignore anything. We want to take the appropriate measures," he said.

Psychic tip prompts bomb search on plane - CNN, 27th March 2004 (via Electrolite).

March 26, 2004

ATTENTION HOMOPHOBIC HETEROSEXUALS

Marc-Anthony Macon and his boyfriend are fed up of being told that they already have the same rights as straight men -- they may marry women. So, he's come up with a cunning plan:

Until you allow gay couples, nation-wide, to marry one-another, we will start marrying your potential mates.
That's right.
Gay men are going to cruise around and find the hottest women they can, and marry them. Don't think the women will be up for it? Let me ask you this:
If women were given the choice of marrying a straight man, who won't give them much sex after the first couple of years, or marrying gay men who will give them no sex, but allow them to sleep with whomever they want, along with taking them dancing, to romantic dinners, bring them random gifts of flowers, tell them how beautiful they are, remember their birthdays and anniversaries and decorate their homesÂ… Which marriage will sound better to them?

You have been warned...

Bargain of the Day: Another Christian spell kit.

It must be that time of year, or something, for here is Saint Jospeh the Faithful Helper, yet another home selling kit.

For centuries, thousands of faithful have placed their hopes and trust in the power of St. Joseph.
Through devout prayer and petition, ask Saint Joseph to grant your needs and desires. Keep Saint Joseph The Faithful Helper on your property as a sign of your conviction. Most important is the expression of your faith in him through daily prayer. A beautiful card with a prayer to Saint Joseph is provided.
Remember, Saint Joseph has never been known to ignore those who truly believe!

This tan-coloured plastic statue stands 10cm high and also comes in a version with Saint Joseph holding a child. The manufacturer's recommended price is $4.30, or you can get it from eBay for a mere $12.95!

Oregon Bans All Marriages

United States: As far as Benton County in Oregon is concerned, if gay couples can't marry, no one can. Quite a kick in the teeth to the fundies.

In a new twist in the battle over same-sex marriage roiling the United States, a county in Oregon has banned all marriages — gay and heterosexual — until the state decides who can and who cannot wed.

The last marriage licenses were handed out in Benton County at 4 p.m. local time on Tuesday. As of Wednesday, officials in the county of 79,000 people will begin telling couples applying for licenses to go elsewhere until the gay marriage debate is settled.

Pesky Anarchic Gay People

United States: A loony fundie pastor has taken exception to all of those gay people wanting to formalise their love. In his tiny little mind they're nothing but anarchists.

The thousands of same-sex newlyweds who have tied the knot in San Francisco's City Hall in recent days are anarchists, to the mind of Pastor Joseph Fuiten.
This shows a high disregard for America. When you have leaders of government, as in the mayor of San Francisco, flaunting the law, we call that anarchy. This is really an anarchists' movement, says the 54-year-old senior pastor at Cedar Park Assembly of God Church.

Same-sex weddings are 'anarchist' - Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 21st February 2004.

Discrimination By Law

United States: Always eager to bend over for the loony fundies, Bush has bowed to their wishes and will allow these total wankers to fire employees based on their sexual preference.

Despite President Bush's pledge that homosexuals ought to have the same rights as all other people, his Administration this week ruled that homosexuals can now be fired from the federal workforce because of their sexual orientation.

March 25, 2004

Bargain of the Day: St. Joseph home sale kit

We have a rival bargain to the Saint Joseph Home Seller Kit mentioned back in July (and now available for $7.95 (US) through The Catholic Company). But The Authentic St. Joseph Home Sale Practice is a much tackier item, being plastic and not resin:

This Kit includes a Statue of St Joseph, An Introduction, The way of St Joseph and A Petition to St. Joseph.

When the auction expires, this particular product, minus the Authentic, is available for a mere $6.95 (US) from Divinity Religious Gifts. They have more information, and a claim:

Can't sell your home? Ask St. Joseph. St. Joseph has helped 1000s sell their home. St. Joseph Home Sale Kit includes directions, statue, and prayer card.

Racist attacks linked to killer movie.

Canada: Police and community groups in Vaughan are concerned about a recent rise in anti-semitic incidents.

The York Region Police has arrested two youngsters, aged 13 and 14 respectively, who had harassed several Vaughan residents over the phone with racist comments and threats. One of them will be referred to the Youth Criminal Justice Act Referral Programme, while the other will be charged with uttering death threats and harassment.
Meanwhile episodes of anti-Semitism continue. Last Tuesday the Chabad Lubavitch Centre in Vaughan reported to the police that on the previous Friday some eggs had been thrown against the façade of the synagogue at 770 Chabad Gate in Thornhill.
On Monday several swastikas and other writings had been found on the doors of two schools, Pleasantville Public on Mill Street and St. Elizabeth Catholic High on New Westminster Drive.

The article includes a photograph of a door some genius daubed with the phrase Jewz suk and an (inaccurate) swastika. A local Rabbi noted that the attacks coincided with the release of The Passion of the Christ. Racism in Vaughan causes concerns - Tandem News, March 28 - April 4, 2004.

Religious nut lies, news at 11.

Imagine the excitement at Prattle Towers when a self-styled Christian informed us, in a comment, that:

So...what amazes me most is how this page sits at the top spot when I happened to look under "Antichrist."!??!Seems to me someone either paid for it to get to that highest ranking position or Google placed it there for a reason because God knows, no one is looking under or even cares what the small minority of witches have to say about something to do with Bible prophecy!

So we checked. The top entry, www.Antichrist.com, looks entertaining, but it isn't one of ours. The rest of the first page includes speculation, both serious and silly, on who the antichrist might be, a book by Nietzsche, definitions of the word, a bit about a virus hoax and a link to Marilyn Manson. But nothing from this site, and there's nothing in the first 30 pages of hits either.

How disappointing - the kook lied to us. There again, the same indivdual informed us on several occasions that we are witches and that we are followers of Laurie Cabot—and we don't need Google to confirm that that's a load of old bollocks. Do we need to mention the standard of English used in the comment, or can you guess?

March 24, 2004

County treats all equally

United States: An Oregon county has decided to stop issuing all marriage licences after it was threatened with legal action if it did not stop doing so to same-sex couples. The ban will remain until the Oregon Supreme Court has ruled on the constituionality of same-sex marriages. The County Commissioners said they had decided to treat everyone equally:

So to be fair, Dixon said, the three commissioners voted to stop issuing licenses to anyone until courts resolve the matter.
That treats everybody equally, he said. It was a question of treating everyone the same. It won't hurt anybody. They can still get licenses in other counties.

Fundies are not happy

Tim Nashif of the Defense of Marriage Coalition, which has been fighting same-sex marriages, blasted the Benton County decision.
It's just crazy, he said. I don't understand it. We're happy that they're not giving out licenses that violate the law, but how do they get to the point that they're not issuing licenses to anybody?
Nashif, whose group is involved in the Multnomah County court case, said if a heterosexual couple is prevented from getting a license in Benton County, we would be very open to representing their rights in a lawsuit.

But presumably, if marriage is a right and not a privilege, giving straight and gay people different rights goes against the Oregon constitution? Benton stops all marriage licensing - The Oregonian, 23rd March 2004.

In typo veritas

A group of scientists, teachers and astronomers plan a giant scale model of the Solar System, with the Earth located at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire. Saturn would be placed in Lancaster, but according to the local paper, the intention is to encourage children to develop an interest in science and astrology! City joins the solar system - Morecambe Today, 24th March 2004.

The bright side of life

The success of The Passion of the Christ has inspired the re-release of a much better film about a Jew who gets crucified by the Romans. Monty Python's Life of Brian will re-open in US cinemas to mark the 25th anniversary of its release.

We decided this is an important time to re-release this film, to provide some counter-programing to 'The Passion,' Jaglom told Reuters. I intend it, hopefully, to serve as an antidote to all the hysteria about Mel's movie.
He said marketing for the re-release would play off Gibson's film by adapting such taglines as Mel or Monty and The Passion or the Python -- we want to give people a choice.

Like The Passion, The Life of Brian is rated 18 in the UK, but has none of the sickening gratuitous violence of the later film, just a tiny bit of mild sexual content which would probably give it a 15 if it were released today. Monty Python's 'Life of Brian' Set for Re-Release - Reuters, 23rd March 2004.

March 23, 2004

Pest control

Solomon Islands: The defence has asked a court to throw out charges against two young men who are accused of beheading a missionary. A pagan priest who was to testify against the men has failed to turn up at court for the second time. No indication is given as to the alleged motive. Solomons beheading case should be thrown out, says defence - New Zealand Herald, 23rd March 2004.

Bargain of the Day: MOST POWERFUL PRAYER CLOTH

We've featured a prayer cloth before, but this MOST POWERFUL PRAYER CLOTH makes some very specific claims:

This is the MOST POWERFUL PRAYER CLOTH. Many have experienced supernatural occurances after receiving one of these. MIRACLES ARE TAKING PLACE! One man wrote: As soon as I opened my mail, I felt the very presence of GOD. Another person wrote:I RECEIVED 2 JOB OFFERS. 1 PAID 3 TIMES AS MUCH AS I EVER EXPECTED! Another wrote: This is incredible! MY CHILD CAME BACK HOME AND FOUND A JOB THAT VERY DAY! I, myself have experienced several miraculous events. Suddenly, all my bills are being paid! People are giving me things that I really need. I also got a half price meal today-for no reason. This is incredible folks! TESTIMONY AFTER TESTIMONY YOU JUST GOT TO GET ONE OF THESE!

A similar ploy was used by televangelist Bob Tilton. According to The Skeptiseum:

One of Tilton's ploys was to send a miracle package that included a swatch of fabric called a Miracle Prayer Cloth ... and a tiny package of Anointing Oil. The former was to be returned--with money--so that Reverend Bob could pray over your cloth.

The taxman eventually caught up with Tilton:

Tilton responded to the IRS and other investigators by saying he was being persecuted.

South Africa's Spirit Word Ministries also offers its own Prayer Cloth, but at least this one is free to print out. It features a handprint with an advertisement for the Ministries' TV show and web site, and the words God has really anointed Kobus van Rensburg in this ministry of miracles - carry this cloth with you or just put your hand on the hand of Kobus & agree for your miracle.

Killer movie claims second victim

Brazil: The Passion of the Christ has struck again. Presbyterian minister Jose Geraldo Soares was a mere 43 years old when he went to see the film with members of his congregation.

But halfway through the movie, Soares' wife noticed that he was no longer awake. A doctor who was also watching the film tended to Soares, but the priest was already dead.

Brazilian pastor dies watching Passion of Christ - Reuters, 23rd March 2004.

March 22, 2004

Religious Leaders Urged to Stop Spreading Lies

Angola: Religious leaders, who cause more problems amongst HIV ravaged areas than anything, have been urged to drop their prejudicial whining and to get off their arse and help people instead.

Angola, emerging from almost three decades of civil war, faces the threat of a massive spread of HIV/AIDS and religious leaders must join the fight against the pandemic that has ravaged much of Africa, Christian Aid said.
Official statistics put prevalence rates in Angola at between five and seven percent, but Rachel Baggaley, head of Christian Aid's HIV unit, said the figure could soar to over 20 percent within five years if the country did not act immediately.
The church and other faith-based organisations have a massive role to play in HIV prevention and care, she said. The church is part of the problem. Church leaders often stigmatise people living with HIV and are not compassionate or open about HIV.

Churches Using TV to Pimp for Customers

United States: I'm a wee bit confused over church advertising. Wouldn't using television advertising to pimp for customers be in violation of their dodgy tax-free status? Not to mention a blatant misuse of funds.

Two weeks ago, first-time commercials for the United Church of Christ (UCC) began airing in six areas from Sarasota, Fla., to Oklahoma City in a bid to boost name recognition and worship attendance before Easter. Monday, the Unitarian Universalist Association began a national campaign to buy airtime for their Uncommon Denomination ads, first tested in Kansas City last year. This summer, the United Methodist Church will hear proposals for expanding what has been a four-year, $18 million campaign to replenish dwindling congregations.
For church marketers, TV ads have been the missing link between congregations with much to offer and individuals in search of a place where they feel welcome.
It may well be that the church we created in 1957 is just right for today's people, but they don't know we exist, said Ron Buford, coordinator of the UCC's campaign. The medium for today is TV. You don't exist if you're not on TV.
Yet for scholars of church trends, the dawn of mass marketing suggests that quest for church unity has given way to an ethic of survival of the fittest.

Mainstream churches take a leap of faith into TV advertising - Christian Science Monitor, 16th March 2004.

Bargain of the Day: Religious colouring hats

JANIE'S COLORING HATS is an eBay store specialising in paper hats for colouring in, and it has a substantial selection of Judaica. For a mere $20 (US), you can obtain a mixed selection of 100 Jewish Coloring Hats, with themes such as Chanukah and other festivals, Kosher foods and Hebrew. There is also a set of Bible coloring hats, and there's a special bonus, too!

INCLUDED IN YOUR ORDER WILL BE A LOVELY ASSORTMENT OF OTHER COLORING HAT THEMES including HAPPY EASTER, CHRISTMAS, GOD BLESS AMERICA and THANKSGIVING.

March 20, 2004

How you got here

Here are the top 10 referrers to the Prattle home page, not including search engines, or other Prattle pages. I've also added together the figures when I know that more than one different addresses really point to the same place.

Armed and Dangerous (Eric Raymond)
Making Light (Teresa Neilsen Hayden)
Charlie's Diary (Charlie Stross)
Early Days of a Better Nation (Ken MacLeod)
Morons.org (various)
paganwiccan.about.com (Terri Paajanen)
Electrolite (Patrick Neilsen Hayden)
The Sideshow (Avedon Carol)
Holy Weblog
The Null Device

I think when you combine that lot with the regular commenters, the Pagan Prattle seems to have fans right across the political spectrum, which is cool. Now to persuade someone to knock up a perl script that'd check the logs each week and post this chart to the sidebar.

What you want

Your editor is too lazy to download and analyse web server stats, so has been using Extreme Tracking to provide some basic data. One of the things it does is to extract search terms, when a user was referred by a search engine. Here, then, is a top 20 (with words such as 'the' and 'and' excluded):

1     143    12.41%     pagan
2      57     4.94%     passion
3      42     3.64%     prattle
4      39     3.38%     christ
5      33     2.86%     gibson
6      25     2.17%     mel
7      18     1.56%     nail
8=     11     0.95%     pastor
8=     11     0.95%     glass
8=     11     0.95%     movie
11=    10     0.86%     online
11=    10     0.86%     jack
11=    10     0.86%     pendant
14=     9     0.78%     warez
14=     9     0.78%     hutton
16=     7     0.60%     cross
16=     7     0.60%     antipope
16=     7     0.60%     audio
19=     6     0.52%     sedna
19=     6     0.52%     speak
19=     6     0.52%     piece

As well as the obvious obsessions of the moment, it's nice to note that a gratifying number of people seem to have been searching for this very site.

Diddums

The Church of England bishop has warned that the church faces becoming a minority sect because it is not annoying enough.

Bishop McCulloch said the clergy were being diverted from their true mission of evangelism by the debate over sexuality, 25 years of Church legislation and more red tape caused by secular regulations.

Odd, I thought the only reason the Church of England existed at all was so the monarch could get a divorce and shag someone else.

Figures published in The UK Christian Handbook: Religious Trends show that, at the current rate of decline, total Church membership will have fallen to 5,598,000 by 2005, down by more than a million people in 15 years. Over the same period, the number of church buildings will have fallen by 1,400 to 48,600 and the number of ministers by 1,000 to 35,400.
Even if there is no further decline, by the turn of the next century, there will still be thousands of churches and ministers, but they will have no Christians to minister to.

The bishop did not give examples of the secular red tape that bothers him, and the Church is already exempt from most legislation concerning planning and the protection of historic buldings. Church may end up as sect, warns bishop - The Guardian, 20th March 2004.

Wired Vicar Caught With Pants Down

United Kingdom: The good Father Bob has been suspended after shocked parishioners reported that a naked picture of him had been posted on an internet dating web site.

The picture allegedly shows Fr Bob Locke, 41, the Anglican vicar of Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex, and invites contact from women for sex.

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Rev John Gladwin, suspended the married clergyman while the unsettling allegations are investigated.

Bargain of the Day: Bible-Zines for Boys

United States: From the loony fundies who brought you the bible-zine for girls, here's the version for boys. It's got to be hip, look there's a guitar, snowboarder and flamey logo on the cover. I'm betting that the most use this magazine is going to get is as a handy cover for hiding stroke mags from parents.

The world's largest publisher of religious material is selling the sizzle along with the solemn in a line of Bible-zines — repackaged Bibles aimed at hip Christian teen-agers.
Leaning on the successful slogan of famous Depression-era salesman Elmer Wheeler — Don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle — Transit Books, the teen division of publisher Thomas Nelson, adopted the eye-popping format of mainstream teen magazines to create Revolve, a four-color, 388-page New Testament for teen-age girls.
The smashing success of Revolve, a one-time magazine that went on sale in July for $14.99, has led to the planned Easter launch of Refuel, a Bible-zine aimed at teen-age boys.
Revolve, which has no advertising, excerpts easy-to-digest biblical passages to answer the tough questions teen-agers often ask. Woven throughout is an easy-to-read Bible in a flashy format so teen-agers might feel more comfortable paging through it in public.
We've found a way to make the word of God exciting, relevant and fun for young women again, said Transit Books brand manager Laura Whaley.
Revolve does not duck once-forbidden topics, with one reviewer likening it to Seventeen magazine, only saintlier.

It will come as no surprise to anyone that the subjects in both mags are identical bar the gender switch. I'm guessing the target audience is judged as being none too bright.

Bible-Zine for Boys Set for Easter Launch - Reuters, 16th March 2004.

March 19, 2004

Rant of the Day

The Spring Equinox is often overlooked, with the Summer Solstice and Hallowe'en the preferred dates for evil occult conspiracies everywhere. But this year, it's on the 20th, which is the first anniversary of Oceania having always been at war with EastasiaEurasia. And (barking mad, right wing, fundie, and believing Israel can do no wrong) Front Page Magazine has noticed.

This Saturday, March 20, anti-American marches and rallies were scheduled for dozens of cities in 50 countries around the world, and in the U.S. from Manhattan to Los Angeles. (In picking this date for antiwar protest, did they notice that the month of March was named for the Roman god of War?)
Purportedly chosen to mark the one-year anniversary of America's incursion into Iraq, March 20 this year also happens to be the Spring Equinox (one of two annual days when day and night are equal), the day when spring officially begins.
Millions of pagans, as their forebears did at Stonehenge, go to parks to celebrate the Equinox as Mother Nature's own Earth Day. (The first unnatural Earth Day, April 22, 1970, was deliberately set for Soviet Union founder Vladimir Lenin's 100th Birthday and has been gleefully celebrated as Earth Day by Marxists and their red-green fellow travelers on this mass murderer's birthday ever since.) These pagan nature lovers, brought out by spring fever instead of feverish anti-Bush activism, will doubtless be used to falsely inflate media tallies of rallying Leftist protesters.

Millions of Pagans? That'll be news to most Pagans. EACH MID-MARCH THE BUZZARDS RETURN - Front Page Magazine, 19th March 2004.

Abbott and Costello in Political Tiff

Australia: It would actually be amusing that Australia has Abbott and Costello loose in parliament if they weren't such a pair of tossers. Abbott, in particular, is a loony fundie who has been on a Bush inspired god-bothering bent of late, insisting on sharing (by law if he had his way) his weird little beliefs on how his imaginary friend thinks we should live our lives.

Jesus Peanut Butter Cups

Let it be noted that Aloysius is in danger of getting a bill for the removal of nasal filtered beverages from the interior of my keyboard.

Little pieces of the son of god in a milk chocolate cup. There's no wrong way to eat a Jesus.

goats: strip from March / 13 / 1998 - Goats, 13th March 1998 (via HogBlog).

Violent Christian Film Kills Again

United States: It appears that The Passion of the Christ has claimed yet another life, this time from a heart attack during one of the most violent moments of the film.

It was the highest emotional part of the movie, a spokeswoman for the station said. A crew from the station was at the special showing, which was sponsored by the ClearChannel Radio chain.

March 18, 2004

Good Christian, heterosexual marriage

United States: Both partners of a couple have been arrested after a theological discussion went too far. Melissa and Sean Davidson had been to see The Passion of the Christ together and, as they left the cinema, began to discuss whether God the Father in the Holy Trinity was human or symbolic. When they got home, it turned into a full-blown fight.

According to a police report, Melissa Davidson suffered injuries on her arm and face, while her husband had a scissors stab wound on his hand and his shirt was ripped off. He also allegedly punched a hole in a wall.
Really, it was kind of a pitiful thing, to go to a movie like that and fight about it. I think they missed the point, said Gene McDaniel, chief sheriff's deputy.

Georgia couple arrested after debate over 'Passion of the Christ' turns violent - Boston Globe, 18th March 2004.

The seat with the clearest view

Mars: The Spirit rover has spotted something rather odd in the skies above Mars - something unidentified streaking across the sky from north to south.

Only occasionally does it raise its sights towards the sky to study the atmosphere of Mars.
But it was on just such an occasion when Spirit was observing the sky with the green filter of its panoramic camera that the roving geologist came across the surprise - a streak across the peach-coloured Martian heavens.

Speculation is rife, but the smart money is on it being one of the earlier Mars orbiters, probably Viking 2, which is both fast enough and in the right oribit. UFO streaks through Martian sky - BBC News, 18th March 2004.

Darwin's remedy

United States: Azogue, a popular folk medicine is causing concern among authorities in New Jersey. Felix Mota, voodoo priest and owner of a botanica, who refuses to sell it, explains:

It speeds the magical effects of spells cast for the loveless, the luckless, and the sick, some believe. It is a talisman to the gambler, a protector against the evil eye. Some sprinkle it in rooms, cars -- even baby cribs -- for protection.

The problem? It's mercury.

Researchers say mercury is used in two ways: as part of an organized religion, such as Santeria, Espiritismo, or voodoo, where priests imbue it with spiritual power in certain rituals, or in cultural or superstitious practices in which people believe it brings good luck.
People buy it to put in candles -- candles for money, for love, to pray for somebody, Mota says. He used to put a drop of mercury in perfume or bath oils, to spread over the body for good luck, but he doesn't anymore.
I tell people, 'Don't use it. It's so dangerous.'
One woman Mota treated six or seven years ago had swallowed mercury at the instruction of a santero, a Santeria priest, before she came to the United States.

Mercury as Folk Potion Sickens Users, Pollutes New Jersey Waterways - The Miami Herald, 16th March 2004.

Losing by a nose

Taiwan: Forget the fact that President Chen Shui-bian has made a mess of the economy and annoyed neighbouring countries, according to a fortune teller, he will lose the forthcoming election because his nose is too small.

The size of a leader's nose has a direct relation to the fortunes of the country they lead," said Fan [Yun], who mans one of the many small fortune-telling booths that line a pedestrian underpass near the Hsin Tien Temple in Taipei.
Everything about Chen's face is small and that's why the last four years have been so bad, she said, referring to the economic downturn that hit the island's economy a year after Chen swept to office in 2000.
Never mind the fact that Chen's face was graced with the same nose when he trounced his opponent, Lien Chan of the Nationalist party, four years ago.

Others disagree - it's not his nose that signifies defeat, but his complexion which indicates he will win.

To gauge a person's fortune, you have to look at their complexion and Chen's appears very bright as you can see from his ruddy cheeks, said Cheng Wen-kuei, a fortune teller who said he has been in the business for more than 20 years.

Astrologers don't want to miss out on the free publicity either.

Born in 1950, the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese zodiac, Chen will not gain much help from the heavens in 2004. This is the Year of the Monkey, which usually spells difficulties for tigers, say the fortune tellers.
On March 20, Chen's luck will flow like the Yellow River, dirty and unclear, said Joe Lee, who sits at a small fold-up table in the underpass, reading from the astrological chart he has drawn up for the president.
Chen's term as president will end on that day, said Lee, who said he had accurately predicted the date on which the United States launched its strike on Iraq last year.

And let's not forget Feng Shui. Chang Hsu-chu, Chinese Geomancy Research Association chair, thinks the Nationalist challenger Lien Chan will prevail, because of where his ancestors were laid to rest:

Lien and his running mate James Soong's ancestral grave sites are both located in the First Public Cemetery in Taipei's Yangmingshan. The area is shaped like a dragon and widely known as a dragon cave, which is believed to bring prosperity to the offspring of those laid rest there, according to Chang.
Besides, Chang points out that the Lien family burial itself resembles the shape of a phoenix and the tomb of his late father is situated right on the wing of the phoenix.
Grass and trees are two important harbingers in geomancy. The lush green in the surrounding area of the Lien family burial is a sign of good fortune, he says.

Taiwan president's nose too small for re-election - Swissinfo, 18th March 2004; Graves, noses clues to election outcome - The China Post, 17th March 2004.

Update: Chen won.

March 17, 2004

Slow news day

I wondered how long it would take before the newspapers asked astrologers about the significance of the newly-discovered, might-be-a-planet, Sedna. What's surprising is that it isn't a US tabloid, but The Scotsman! They asked three astrologers about it, and Anna Estaroth of The Astrology Centre in Edinburgh told them:

In Sedna they've chosen an Inuit goddess rather than a Greek one. At the moment we have a whole issue about sea conservation and the ruining of our fishing industry and Sedna is supposed to be the goddess of abundance. On the plus side you might argue there is a symbolism for improving our fish stocks and also we don't want to lose our fishing industry, so it's symbolic that she's turned up at this very crucial stage.

Morelle Smith only party agrees:

To me, what immediately comes to mind is the interconnectedness of the whole planet. On the negative side, we have the unpredictability of terrorist attacks and the uncertainty of weather, climate and a variety of ecological changes, some of which are a direct result of humanity's abuse of the Earth and its natural resources. On the positive side, we have contacts, communication and relationships with people from parts of the world that only a handful of years ago we knew very little of, so we are able to see our similarities and points of contact with all other human beings, however different their customs, cultures etc; the internet has been invaluable here.

It's written in the stars - The Scotsman, 17th March 2004.

Timmy the Vampire Slayer

United States: Certain fundies will be disappointed to hear that a self-styled 'vampire-slayer', who shot a co-worker twice in the face because he thought he was a vampire, was not a teenager inspired by a popular television program.

Timothy White, 35, who was described by friends as a born-again Christian with an unusual preoccupation with zombies and vampires, was arrested outside of a church after Friday's shooting.
Witnesses said he walked into the pizza shop on Normandy Boulevard and allegedly said David Harrison looked like a vampire. He then allegedly shot Harrison in the face and stomach.

'Vampire Slayer' Shoots Man In Face - Local 6, 15th March 2004 (via Internet Infidels News Wire).

If thine prick offend thee.

Canada: A man ran naked through the streets of Penticton, yelling Repent, repent, fornicators after cutting off his own penis and testicles. The severed parts were later found on a bulding site, but it was not known whether any attempt was made to re-attach them. The man was detained under the Mental Health Act. Unkindest cut of all - Calgary Sun, 11th March 2004.

Bargain of the Day: Bible Handkerchief

Show how much you respect the Word of God by blowing your nose on this green Bible snotrag:

Green, cotton/poly blend, 22" X 22" , machine wash, red lettering.**THANK GOD FOR A MIRACLE** with open Bible showing the scripture ***...And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. Acts 19:11***

Ten Commandments a Pagan plot.

United States: Police are sure that the usual suspect was not responsible for driving a white Jeep into a Ten Commandments monument on private land in Anderson, Indiana.

If history is an indicator, the usual suspect in this caper would be Stephen M. Schroeder, 42, Indianapolis. Indeed, he did damage this particular marker five times when it was on the Statehouse lawn, refusing to pay a $2,500 fine on principle and serving 90 days in jail. But when contacted Monday about the Anderson attack, he pointed out he goes after offending markers on public grounds only. He was genuinely surprised, he said, to hear the news.

But is Schroeder a principled campaigner supporting the separation of church and state. Erm, no.

I didn't even know they'd put it back up, said Schroeder, who describes himself as Christian, Protestant, anti-Catholic and anti-Mason. He's also an articulate, single-minded warehouse supervisor. His mission? To expose Indiana's role as the supreme capital of pagan worship.

After he last demolished the monument, it was returned to the organisation which donated it, The Fraternal Order of Eagles (a mixed-sex voluntary organisation which raises money for charities, a bit like the Rotary Clubs), who erected it at their own lodge.

Now, most fundie hate-campaigners try to maintain the façade that they are acting out of love. Schroeder does not have time for such pleasantries:

Schroeder did not hate the marker because he hates God. He doesn't. He hates pagans, and he maintains this marker was a sneaky pagan plot...
Schroeder contends the image was a Masonic symbol. Free Masonry, he says, is the biggest pagan religion there is. That's what offended him so about the marker.
Frank Morrison, 73, a retired firefighter and president of the Anderson Eagles, seemed a little offended himself. He says flatly that Eagles are not Masons, and Masons are not pagans. He could not recall the symbol Schroeder describes, although if there was one, It may have been covered by the re-dedication plaque, he says, after the marker was repaired in 1998.

Even though the police do not suspect Schroeder in this case, the timing is terribly convenient for him, ensuring that this little notice appears in the newspapers:

Still, what went down in Anderson provides an opening for Schroeder to continue his longtime expose of Indy's pagan symbolism. Did you know, he asks, that the entire Downtown is teeming with diabolic images on public buildings? He will present his views at 1 p.m. March 27 at the House Cafe in Glendale Mall.

On Commandments monument, he finds a pagan plot - Indianapolis Star, 16th March 2004.

God Equation Total Bollocks

United Kingdom: Dr Stephen Unwin, Manchester University graduate and professional wingnut, has calculated that there is a 67% chance that God exists.

Dr Stephen Unwin has used a 200-year-old formula to calculate the probability of the existence of an omnipotent being. Bayes' Theory is usually used to work out the likelihood of events, such as nuclear power failure, by balancing the various factors that could affect a situation.
The Manchester University graduate, who now works as a risk assessor in Ohio, said the theory starts from the assumption that God has a 50/50 chance of existing, and then factors in the evidence both for and against the notion of a higher being.
Factors that were considered included recognition of goodness, which Dr Unwin said makes the existence of God more likely, countered by things like the existence of natural evil — including earthquakes and cancer.

Aloysius finds the whole claim a bunch of old cobblers.

DIY Crucifixion

United States: In an interesting attempt at suicide, one loony fundie decided to try a DIY crucifixion on himself. He claims not to have seen The Passion of the Christ, so we can only concluded that Christianity is evil and causes people to kill themselves.

A Hartland man was treated at a Pittsfield hospital after he nailed himself to a cross.

The 23-year-old man apparently was trying to commit suicide Thursday evening in his living room, the Bangor Daily News reported. Police said the man appeared delusional and told them he had been seeing pictures of God on the computer...

Lt. Pierre Boucher said the man took two pieces of wood, nailed them together in the form of a cross and placed them on the floor. He attached a suicide sign to the wood and then proceeded to nail one of his hands to the makeshift cross using a 14-penny nail and a hammer.

When he realized that he was unable to nail his other hand to the board, he called 911, Boucher said.

Man treated after attempting to nail himself to crossAP, 16th March 2004 (via Die Puny Humans).

March 15, 2004

British MP slates Passion

MP Gerald Kaufmann has strongly criticised The Passion of the Christ:

On ITV1's GMTV Sunday Programme, he slated the film's gratuitous violence, ugliness, wallowing in blood and, it has to be said, crude anti-Semitism...
...The Jews depicted are depicted as almost caricature Jews who demand (Christ's) blood, said Mr Kaufman, the chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport committee.
I am not accusing him (Gibson) of being a deliberate and overt anti-Semite but there is no doubt that the message of the film is seriously, damagingly anti-Semitic, he said.
People who do not know the story will see it as the Jews wanting to murder this saintly man while the Roman ruler of the country didn't want to do it but was forced into by their pressure.

But Roman Catholic leader Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor defended the film, pointing out that even though he hadn't actually seen it, it wasn't anti-semitic:

I have not seen it, the film, but everyone I have met who has seen it has been profoundly moved, he said.
There were people who said it was anti-Semitic. I don't think from what I hear that it is in any way anti-Semitic. I think they have been very careful not to in any way induce anti-Semitism.

MP slates Gibson's Christ movie - BBC News, 14th March 2004.

Bargain of the Day: Plane crazy

You've seen the religious foam gliders before, but they were a little dull. So how about these Color-your-Own Religious Gliders?

5 3/4" X 6" Plastic Foam Religious Color-Your-Own Gliders. Each With A Printed Paper Coating. Assorted Styles, Individually Packaged. Markers Not Included.. Price is for 1 dozen airplanes.

The styles illustrated are 'WWJD' and 'Fly with the Lord'. If you fancy something a little more jazzy, Oriental Trading offers CARDBOARD RELIGIOUS FLYING JETS and FOAM VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL GLIDERS. Perhaps you are somewhat concerned about the way these aircraft represent the triumph of human inginuity over God's Will (after all, He did not give us wings for a reason). So how about an evangelical toy which represents something which is in the sky to begin with? I have CATCH THE SPIRIT FOAM FLYING STARS in mind:

ONE DOZZEN CATCH THE SPIRIT FOAM FLYING STARS. 6INCH ROUND.MADE OF FOAM IN ASORTED COLORS.THE CENTERS COME OUT SO YOU CAN USE WITH OR WITH OUT.NEET-O- FUN INDOORS OR OUTDOORS.GREAT LITTLE HAND OUTS FOR SUNDAY SCHOOL OR VBS.

Perhaps you like to use more subtle evangelical techniques than are usually employed. How about using a traditional weapon to knock your victim out so they don't run away from your preaching? Oriental Trading (again) has just the thing - RELIGIOUS BOOMERANGS:

15 1/2" Plastic Religious Boomerangs. Each printed with SMILE! JESUS LOVES YOU! Assorted colors.

Available by the dozen.

March 14, 2004

Police ignore crime to chase shadows

Cyprus: Police are insisting on chasing Satanists, despite a lack of evidence that they even exist.

However, a police source yesterday revealed to the Sunday Mail that they have received isolated reports that people were forming groups and gathering together in deserted areas. We have checked them out and on some occasions we have found suspicious evidence such as dolls on the ground. The question of whether Satanic acts are performed in Cyprus has yet to be answered, but we believe that they probably are, said the source.
Theodorou did admit that there had been an isolated incident whereby after a tip off police recovered what they believed to be Satanic symbols in a barren area in Limassol. He added that there had been no concrete evidence linking the symbols to anybody, nor was it established that the symbols were actually related to satanic rituals, so the case was not investigated further.
Theodorou did reassure Papadopoulou that the police were conducting thorough searches in deserted areas for youngsters acting suspiciously, especially on nights where there is a full moon, and that they did view every report they received with the utmost urgency.

Justice Minister Doros Theodorou believes the more credible explanation that young people are gathering to sell and use drugs. The Greek bit of Cyprus enters the EU soon, where freedom of religious belief is guaranteed (though no-one seems to have told the French). Satanism fears groundless, says minister - Cyprus Sunday Mail, 14th March 2004.

Welsh take extreme measures

Welsh rugby is a long way from its glory days. Encouraging talented English players with a Welsh grandparent, or extra training so the team plays like a team sound like reasonable options, but Wales on Sunday has a better idea: witchcraft!

White witch Amanda Samson knocked up the magic words - and we did the rest here at Wales on Sunday HQ.

Amanda says the spell is supposed to attract success letting you acknowledge your unlimited potential and live your dreams...

...We cast the spell using a special scroll with a talisman, rose petals and success oil.

You don't have to be a witch to cast a SpellBox spell, said Amanda. Just be clear in your intent and open to the answers from the universe!

Clearly the problems of her own national side, Australia, in the World Cup final, stemmed from them not buying a SpellBox from her web site. White witch spells success for Wales - Wales on Sunday, 14th March 2004.

March 13, 2004

Barggain of the Day: MONEY, GOOD FORTURN, HEALTH

cujo525 offers an interesting personal service:

i AM A MINISTER AND MY PRAYERS HAVE BEEN ANSWERED FOR MYSELF AND OTHERS. i WILL PARYER FOR YOU PERSONALLY AND ASK MY FLOCK TO DO THE SAME EVERY DAY. pLEASE LET ME KNOW WHEN YOUR PRAYERS HAVE BEEN ANSWERED AS I KNOW THEY WILL.

I'm not sure if he will pray in return for instructions on how to use the 'shift' key, but he will ship his prayers to the United States, Caribbean, Middle East, Mexico and Central America, Africa, South America, Asia, Australasia, Europe, Canada. His other auctions are worth checking out, as well.

The Earth, It Burns

United States: What weird fetish involves not allowing your feet to touch the earth? Isn't that the sort of loony direction Howard Hughes was heading before he popped his cogs?

For days now, the job at Eisenhower Park in Nassau County has been to follow the order from the White House through the Secret Service and down to the park workers:
The president's feet are not to touch the dirt...

One Invisible Friend to Rule Them All

United States: The loony fundies are pushing through a law that will make their invisible friend sovereign of all, and if you dare to take offence at anything done in the name of said invisible friend, you can expect swift and vengeful punishment for your heathen attempt at original thought.

One of the sticking points in crafting the just-signed interim constitution of the Pentagon cash cow formerly known as Iraq was the question of acknowledging Islam as the fundamental source of law. After much wrangling, a fudge was worked out that cites the Koran as a fundamental source of legal authority, with the proviso that no law can be passed that conflicts with Islam.

We in the enlightened West smile at such theocratic quibbling, of course: Imagine, national leaders insisting that a modern state be governed solely by divine authority! Governments guaranteeing the right of religious extremists to impose their views on society! What next — debates about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Oh, those poor, ignorant barbarians in Babylon!

Well, wipe that smile off your face. For even now, the ignorant barbarians in Washington are pushing a law through Congress that would acknowledge God as the sovereign source of law, liberty [and] government in the United States. What's more, it would forbid all legal challenges to government officials who use the power of the state to enforce their own view of God's sovereign authority. Any judge who dared even hear such a challenge could be removed from office.

March 12, 2004

Sorry about the bigotry

United States: The head of a Christian organisation has had to apologise after threatening to 'out' legislators he thought might be gay.

[Executive Director of the Christian Civic League of Maine, Michael] Heath says he should not have suggested that the League had any interest in the sexual orientation of state lawmakers.
Earlier, he asked members to send him tips, rumors, speculations and facts that he could post on the league's Web site.

The apology, posted to the League's web site, reads:

I am sorry for indicating that the League is going to keep a list of the "sexual orientation" of public policy makers and leaders. In the midst of fighting for something I feel very strong about I wrote and said things that I should not have written and spoken. I feel terrible that my words and conduct have besmirched the fine reputation and important ministry of the Christian Civic League of Maine. And I apologize to the Legislature and the people of Maine.

Portland Representative John Eder described Heath's actions as completely disgusting and meant to encourage hatred and violence. Heath apologizes for threat to out lawmakers - NewsRadio WMTW, 12th March 2004; I apologize - Christian Civic League of Maine web site, not dated.

Education a vaccine against superstition

Christian researchers have been disappointed to discover that education is the main factor in people rejecting imaginary friends. They divided unbelievers into five categories - U1 to U5 - with U5s least likely to accept religion.

More than 39 percent of the U5s had a master's or doctoral degree, compared to 14 percent of the total unchurched population. And over one-fourth of the U5s had a doctoral degree, compared to only 4 percent of all the unchurched.

They gave an example of one of these terrible people, 'Mark J.', who stated The more education you receive, the more you realize that religious beliefs just don't make sense. And Christians turn him off Christianity more than anything else:

The Christians I know pray for everything, he lamented. I can't stand it when they pray for trivial things that just aren't important. In my mother's church, some of the people were praying for their new pastor to find a good place to live. Isn't that ridiculous?

U5s Are the Most Educated Among the Unchurched - Church Central, 11th March 2004.

Bargain of the Day: The Holy Land Authentic Crown of Thorns

This perfect EostreEaster gift is, surprisingly, not being marketed as Passion of the Christ tat:

2000 years ago thorn bushes grew abundantly in the Holy Land -- today they still do but they are so hard to find. This is an authentic crown of thorns was hand-made in the city of Bethlehem in the Holy Land . It is symbolic of Christ' suffering and humiliation.

Fundies Steam Ahead With Hate Campaign

United States: Terrified at the thought their hatred of homosexuals being condemned by the mainstream, a bunch of loony fundies, with the help of the notoriously bigoted American Family Association, is fighting Mayor Greg Nickels official recognition of same-sex marriages.

A group of ministers, troubled that Mayor Greg Nickels has signed an executive order recognizing same-sex marriages from other states, will gather today at the King County Courthouse to support a lawsuit demanding an end to it.

The American Family Association, a conservative advocacy group based in Tupelo, Miss., has dispatched lawyers to file legal papers challenging local governments from California to New York that have endorsed gay unions, and Seattle is their next stop.

March 11, 2004

The Masons Have Had a Rough Couple of Days

United States: On Monday night, a ritual inside Patchogue, New York's Southside Masonic Lodge No 493 ended with the accidental killing of a new initiate. Another member shot him in the face. The shooter was carrying two guns, one with blanks and one with live ammo, and grabbed the wrong one during the ritual — doh! Both the shoter and the initiate were old enough to know better.

The shooter, a 76-year-old Mason, Albert Eid, was carrying two guns, a .22-caliber handgun with blanks in his left pocket, and a .32-caliber gun with live rounds in his right pocket.
He reached into his right pants pocket, pulled out the wrong gun and shot William James, a 47-year-old fellow Mason, in the face, killing him, the authorities said.

Good job he wasn't running for the school board

United States: Thank you to the correspondent who mailed me with a pointer to this PUBLIC NOTICE REFERENCING THE FUTURE LEADER OF OUR TOWN, published by the eventual winner in an election in a northern Louisiana town. Written in all caps (which, as 'Contributor B' of Mistakes Were Made observes, can make anything more important.) it features the excellent grammar we have come to associate with loony fundies:

TO ALL THE FATHER'S, MOTHER'S, DAUGHTER'S, SON'S, BROTHER'S, SISTER'S & CHRISTIAN PEOPLE OF []

The purpose of the flyer? To point out that another candidate isn't an uncircumcised, but righteous, person.

IT IS A FACT THAT ONE CANDIDATE, IN THE OCTOBER 5, 2002 ELECTION, DOES NOT BELIEVE IN JESUS CHRIST. BECAUSE IF SHE DID, SHE WOULD NOT LIVE THE LIFESTYLE (ROMANS 2:26) THAT SHE DOES. HOW DOES THIS CANDIDATE THINK THAT ANY GOD FORGIVING PERSON WOULD CHOOSE THEM FOR A LEADER.

Oops. Or perhaps he got the wrong quote, as his real problem seems to be that she is a lesbian.

IT IS A FACT THAT THIS CANDIDATE LIVES WITH ANOTHER WOMAN WHO IS KNOWN TO BE HER GIRLFRIEND AND CONTINUOUSLY SAYS THAT SHE WILL MARRY THIS WOMAN ONE DAY. WHERE IS GOD IN THIS LIFESTYLE???

And, perhaps giving a hint as to how he planned to behave when elected, he continued:

LADIES, WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO HAPPEN IF THIS CANDIDATE IS ELECTED CHIEF OF POLICE AND YOU ARE PULLED OVER ON A ROUTINE TRAFFIC STOP. DO YOU THINK THAT YOU WILL JUST GET A TICKET, OR DO YOU THINK THAT YOU WILL GET PROPOSITIONED?

Is she cute? Oh, hang on, she's in a stable committed relationship, isn't she? Drat.

FATHER'S AND MOTHER'S; THINK ABOUT YOUR TEENAGE DAUGHTERS JUST LEARNING TO DRIVE. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO HAPPEN IF THEY ARE PULLED OVER BY THIS CANDIDATE? WHAT IF THEY ARE IN DISTRESS AND NEED A WORD OF COMFORT. WHAT KIND OF COMFORT DO YOU THINK THIS CANDIDATE IS GOING TO OFFER?
HUSBAND'S, BOYFRIEND'S, JUST FRIENDS; THINK ABOUT THIS. WHAT IF YOU AND YOUR LADY FRIEND HAVE A DISAGREEMENT ABOUT SOMETHING AND SHE CALLS FOR THE POLICE AND THIS CANDIDATE ANSWERS THE CALL. WHO DO YOU THINK SHE WILL DEFEND, REGARDLESS OF WHO IS RIGHT OR WRONG?

Anti-gay politician's son weds male partner

United States: The son of a Californian senator who penned a law banning same-sex marriage has married his boyfriend in San Francisco. David Knight and Joe Lazzaro had previously had a civil union in Vermont.

Knight explained the difference between civil unions and marriage to the Chronicle.
Although Vermont recognizes the 400 or so rights granted by that state, if we lived in Vermont, we'd have those, but we'd still lack the thousand or so rights a married couple, a heterosexual couple, receives from the federal government.

It was his father's homophobic actions which inspired Knight to come out. Sen. William "Pete" Knight was not present at the ceremony. Son of anti-gay politician Knight marries same-sex partner - Gay.com News, 10th March 2004.

A slightly exaggerated similie.

United States: Martha Stewart's brother has compared his sister's recent trial and conviction with the sufferings of the main character in Mel Gibson's sadomasochistic porn flick The Passion of the Christ.

Kostyra says he was shocked by the guilty verdict in Stewart's stock fraud trial -- and wept when it was announced.

Brother Likens Martha To Jesus - CBS 4 Denver, 10th March 2004.

March 10, 2004

No spirits license.

Australia: A Sydney hotelier has barred a Pagan discussion group which met regularly in his bar (and probably made a significant contribution to his profits) because he was scared they might be casting spells!

People found their behaviour strange and threatening...casting spells on bars in the hotel or clearing bars with certain spells, Tony Green, owner of the Greenwood Hotel, told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. They talk about casting spells and they brought with them, I believe, a small cauldron. I think they behaved as though they are witches, Green added.

A representative of the group, Suzanne Maxim, pointed out that this was unlikely as the bar wasn't really the right sort of place for rituals: It's not a very sacred space. Aussie publican bars regulars he said were casting spells in hotel - CNews, 10th March 2004.

March 9, 2004

Bargain of the Day: Johnny Cash Reads The Complete New Testament

If the graphic and gratuitous violence of The Passion of the Christ really isn't your style, how about the more gentle sound of Johnny Cash Reads The Complete New Testament?

The New Testament of the New King James Version is read in its entirety by music legend Johnny Cash. After 20 years of encouragement from his mother to record the Bible, he approached the recording of the New Testament with fear, respect, awe, and reverence for the subject matter. Cash said further, I also did it with a great deal of joy, because I love the Word. In Johnny Cash Reads The Complete New Testament hear 19-hours of the Word of God from one of the most distinctive voices of our time. The legend of country music shows his spiritual greatness.

All yours for just $44.99 (US). Personally, I'd rather have K.D. Lang Reads Selections From Sappho. (Thanks, Tony).

Aristide a Victim of Voodoo

Haiti: The Telegraph isn't exactly renown for its journalistic integrity, and in a prime example of their love of Bugger the facts. What's the spin? we have the delightful story of President Aristide's kidnapping by the US military ignored in favour of voodoo being at fault.

The rise and fall of Mr Aristide, its first democratically elected leader and an ordained Catholic priest who adopted as his symbol the cockerel, a voodoo icon, illustrates this. Mr Aristide, whose library contained many books on the national religion, was guilty of the voodoo equivalent of hubris and then struck down by its version of nemesis, several voodo priests said this week.

Indoctrinating the Young and Impressionable

United States: Every wondered how so many insane, brainwashed fundies end up in US politics? Ever thought that there must be some farm where the terminally spineless were moulded into Pat Robertson clones? Turns out there is — the evil, little bastards are churned out of a specialist Hitler Youth style college controlled by evangelical wingnuts.

As one of 12 siblings taught at home by their parents in St. Croix Falls, Wis., Abram Olmstead knew he would fit right in at Patrick Henry College, the first college primarily for evangelical Christian home-schoolers. But what really sold him was the school's pipeline into conservative politics.

Of the nearly 100 interns working in the White House this semester, 7 are from the roughly 240 students enrolled in the four-year-old Patrick Henry College, in Purcellville. An eighth intern works for the president's re-election campaign. A former Patrick Henry intern now works on the paid staff of the president's top political adviser, Karl Rove. Over the last four years, 22 conservative members of Congress have employed one or more Patrick Henry interns in their offices or on their campaigns, according to the school's records...

March 8, 2004

Bargain of the Day: Free Passion tat!

Today's bargain will cost you only postage, because Passion of the Christ Materials are giving away 'fan kits' for The Passion of the Christ. Why? Because they believe

Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" will be one of the most influential films in history. Never before have the final hours of Christ's life been so vividly portrayed. Be a part of this monumental film release by ordering one of the officially licensed Fan Packs.

After all, giving people posters, stickers, postcards and door hangers is nearly as cheap as spamming, and more effective than that as advertising.

Mel's rip-off ripped-off

Are there bits of The Passion of the Christ that you don't remember being in The Bible. It could be because Mel Gibson failed to mention that they're really the ravings of a stoned 19th century German nun. Sister Maria Caffeina Mochalatte explains:

For those of you who have seen The Passion, and are wondering at the weird deviations from scripture and ahistorical details, realize that this movie is *not* based solely on the Gospels. A great deal of the script is taken directly from The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a book based on a series of visions experienced by a 19th-century German nun named Anne Catherine Emmerich.
Wondering why Jewish priests were allowed to have soldiers during this period of the Roman occupation? Wondering where in scripture Jesus was pushed off a bridge? Wondering why Pilate was such a Sensitive New Age Guy? Wondering WHY the Jewish priests could enter a place of execution and not be cast out from amongst their own people, despite the edicts in Leviticus? All this, plus the gory details of the scourging (including the exposed rib bones) are her work.
Her copyright's run out a long time ago, but it would have been far more honest of Mr. Gibson to credit the book.

Especially as Mel Gibson's company is suing another company over alleged piracy of The Passion of the Christ. Mel sues over Passion piracy - Herald Sun, 6th March 2004.

Churches Caught Out By Same-Sex Marriages

United States: By getting married with a license in a church or synagogue, many couples are hoping to chip away at opposition to same-sex marriages among religious people.

For three weeks, the grand marble staircase at City Hall has been wedding central in San Francisco, with thousands of gay and lesbian couples lining up to be married by city officials.

But many of the couples are not stopping at the staircase. They are taking their marriage licenses and heading to a church or synagogue for a second ceremony or, in some cases, for an alternative to the civil proceeding.

The decision is driven largely by the religious convictions of the gay couples, clergy members who perform the ceremonies say. But there is also a deeply political undercurrent to the religious weddings that is creating divisions in some institutions, even those with a history of blessing gay and lesbian partnerships.

By getting married with a license in a church or synagogue, many couples are hoping to chip away at opposition to same-sex marriages among religious people, and thereby advance the broader goals of the gay rights movement.

Randy Rector Given The Boot

United Kingdom: A married rector has been disqualified from practising as a priest after he admitted getting his leg over with a woman in his parish.

Mr [Simon] Oberst, a Cambridge graduate who lists his hobbies as singing and music, admitted that he had made advances to two women in his parish. One refused his approaches, the other accepted and an affair followed.

Practical blasphemy

The subject of this week's Photoshop Phriday over at Something Awful is Advertisements of the Christ. Readers were invited to alter screenshots from The Passion of the Christ in a creative manner:

The movie has garnered near universal praise for its accurate depiction of the life and struggles of Jesus, an olden day muckraker turned messiah. However, the movie has not been without criticism, largely due to its extensive use of product placement, which many people feel undermines the authenticity of the movie and cheapens the sacrifice of Jesus. To find out if the line was indeed crossed, the Something Awful Forum Goons went to the trouble of illegally videotaping the movie and then posting screenshots. Please take a look at their work and judge for yourself, as Jesus surely would if he was here.

March 6, 2004

Were they covered against acts of God?

United States: The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has sued its insurer because it has refused to cover them for the massive payments made to victims of clergy abuse.

Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Co. claims that the church's $85 million settlement with 522 victims of clergy abuse was a voluntary payment and that the company was not obligated to contribute, The Boston Globe reported in Saturday's editions.

The church has had to close several churches and sell historic buildings to cover the cost of compensating its victims. Boston Archdiocese sues insurers over sex abuse casesTri-City Herald, 6th March 2004.

Family might sue over Satan lies

The family of four children caught up in the infamous Rochdale 'satanic abuse' case might sue Rochdale Council over the 1990 affair.

The four children, now aged between 17 and 24, say they can't forget their ordeal. The eldest daughter, now 24, said: It was a terrible ordeal, they were looking for signs of sexual abuse. We didn't know what was going on and were frightened, especially because our parents were kept from us.

We were under a lot of pressure from the council workers who kept insisting that they were bad parents and made us agree.

They shoved us in foster homes and for nine months we were not allowed to see our parents. It was a nightmare. All I wanted to do was to go home and be with my family.

It took 18 months before a judge ruled that there was absolutely no evidence to back up the bizarre claims of social workers, but the last of the care orders was not lifted for another eight years. In her official report into the panic, Professor Jean La Fontaine observed that the only thing the vast majority of accused families had done was to be poor.

Families may sue over 'Satan abuse' claimManchester Evening News, 4th March 2004; La Fontaine, Jean (1994). The Extent and Nature of Organised and Ritual Abuse. Research Findings, London, HMSO.

Unusual frog hops off

A three-headed, six-legged frog has been discovered by children in Weston-super-Mare. Environmental problems are suspected. It later escaped from the jar in which it had been kept. Puzzle over three-headed frog - BBC News, 5th March 2004 (with picture!).

God does nothing in San Francisco

United States: Mark Morford lives in San Francisco and is upset because nothing is happening.

Where is my raging apocalypse? This is what I want to know. Where is the social meltdown? The moral depravity? I was promised an apocalypse, dammit. What am I supposed to do with all these tubs of margarine and confetti and kazoos?

The fundies promised him riots, and other fun. Some even insist that it's happening, but all he can see out of his window is some lovely trees and a stunning blue sky and my neighbor walking by with her pair of matching chow chows.

It's anarchy, some guy named Rick Forcier, of the Washington state chapter of the Christian Coalition, actually whined. We seem to have lost the rule of law. It's very frightening when every community decides what laws they will obey. Why, yes, Rick. It's total anarchy. Just look at all the screaming and the bloodshed and the gunfire. Run and hide, Rick. The gay people in love are coming. And they've got tattoos and funny haircuts and want to get married and celebrate their love and be left alone. Hide the children.

He suspects that the good Christians might have been bearing a touch of the old false witness.

I believe I have been misled. I was told repeatedly in extra-glowing terminology by multiple raging Bible-quoting drones that The Good Book expressly forbids gay marriage and gay sex, and to engage in either spells imminent doom and instant social bedlam and there are specific verses all about it.

Perhaps God takes his time; perhaps Satan takes his time? They are quite old, after all:

Maybe it's still to come. Maybe total screaming misery and unspeakable sociocultural collapse coupled with wanton bestiality and incest and the giving away of free anal beads to innocent teenagers takes more than a month. Maybe I'm just a little impatient.
Maybe Satan is taking his sweet time to marshal his leather-clad armies, watching as other U.S. cities get in on the gay-marriage act, listening as mayors and governors all chime in their support and say what's the big deal. Maybe Beelzebub is waiting for a big moment so as to really leverage the coming news flash, the special report, the sudden activation of the Emergency Broadcast System.

Where Is My Gay Apocalypse? Over 3,500 gay marriages and, what, no hellfire? I was promised hellfire. And riots. What gives? - SF Gate, 5th March 2004.

Headology in action

Mexico: Catemaco is known for its witches, and last Friday was a particularly important day for those who seek their services. And some, at least, have heeded the words of Granny Weatherwax:

He puts on a black cape and hood when required to undo somebody else's black magic and shows off scars he says he acquired when he almost lost control of the devil.
Rafael Aguirre attends his patients in a bright white, air-conditioned room, wearing a three-piece white suit with a tie and breast pocket handkerchief - his celestial aura augmented by piped music.
Aguirre acknowledges that much of his gift has nothing to do with devils or saints and boils down to a talent at psychological manipulation. But he insists the work is for the good of his patients.

Witchcraft, Capitalism Thrive on Magi - The Ledger, 6th March 2004.

Bargain of the Day: Miracle II Soap

At first glance, Heartland Enterprises appears to be a typical vendor of environmentally-friendly cleaning products and water filters. But read the FAQ:

* What are the ingredients of Miracle II Soap? (What's on the label?)
The FDA does not regulate the contents of soap. The inventor of Miracle II Products, Clayton Tedeton, has decided not to reveal the exact formula, and therefore the exact answer to that question is between him and God.
What we do know is from the label on the Miracle II Soap bottle, which reads thus:
The most complex mixture of natural minerals and organics that has ever been blended together. Miracle II is a spiritually revealed, formulated product. Contains: Prayer - Electrically engineered eloptic energized stabilized oxygenated water - Ash of Dedecyl solution - Dehydrabiethylamine - Clacium - Potassium - Magnesium - Foaming agent - Cold pressed Acovado - Almond - Olive & Coconut Oils - Vitamin E - Miracle II contains and holds spiritual and eloptic energy.

But hang on, could this be the work of Satan? Liberty To The Captives is a Christian website focussing on topics such as:

Topics include exposing false doctrines in the Left Behind Series; the the planned satanic infiltration into the church; true gospel vs. the false gospel; the New Age gospel of Stewart Best, unholy music, the post-tribulation rapture, false doctrines in Jim Pappas' Christiana: The Pilgrim's Progress Part II; Tim LaHaye's false mark of the beast teachings, scripture-twisting in the Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible: King James, walking after the flesh vs. walking in the Spirit; Christian liberty vs. license to sin; Miracle II products; cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, fasting and prayer; the various ways Satan's servants work to try to spiritually destroy Christians.

They tell us

Prayer to God does not go into objects or containers. Prayers to Satan (incantations) can result in demons going into containers, objects, and substances. So far, our look at the other Miracle II spiritual ingredients reveal that these products are undoubtedly marked for Satan. God (as revealed in the Holy Bible) does not co-labor with Satan, the god of this world. We can be certain that any prayer contained in the Miracle II products is directed to Satan because they contain his subtle energy! Such prayers cause the recipients to be cursed with demons, not blessed by God.

And therefore...

You have made a mistake by using the Miracle II products. You have actually sinned by buying, using, or even selling these demonically marked products... Renounce purchasing them, using them, swallowing them, bathing with them, laundering with them, trusting in them, selling them or any other way you have given them place in your life. Renounce praising Satan unknowingly by praising God for improvements in health while you used the products. Throw them away, including all literature, etc.

(via Jesus' General).

March 5, 2004

The Truth about The Bible

Evil Bible.com exposes the real Bible, and it ain't nice:

For far too long priests and preachers have completely ignored the vicious criminal acts that the Bible promotes. The so called God of the Bible makes Osama Bin Laden look like a Boy Scout. This God, according to the Bible, is directly responsible for many mass-murders, rapes, pillage, plunder, slavery, child abuse and killing, not to mention the killing of unborn children. I have included references to the Biblical passages, so grab your Bible and follow along.

After summarising some of the main points, we are reminded

This type of criminal behavior should shock any moral person. Murder, rape, pillage, plunder, slavery, and child abuse can not be justified by saying that some god says it's OK. If more people would actually sit down and read the Bible there would be a lot more atheists like myself...
...I know that most Christians believe that God is a good and loving god, and wants people to do good things. I believe that most people want to do good things and behave morally. I also believe that many Christians haven't really read the Bible, or just read certain passages in church. This is understandable, as the Bible is hard to read due to its archaic language and obscure references. Also many priests and preachers don't like to read certain passages in the Bible because they present a message of hate not love.

(via too many topics, too little time)

Bargain of the Day: Passion Opportunists

United States: Over at the Prattle Towers satellite office, when we're not scouring the headlines to bring you the latest in naughty vicar stories, we're immersed in other web enterprises. Our main site runs Google ads and we have noticed an influx of god bothering wankers pushing crap for The Passion of The Christ.

I'd just assumed that most were trying to flog the same Passion tat that has already been highlighted here, but the lovely Feòrag pointed out several of the amusing and opportunistic little enterprises riding on the coattails of Lethal Weapon meets God.

From the school of You've seen the movie, now buy our crap, which comes in the exciting flavours of pro- and anti-Passion. Interesting to note that this particular ad was using the same googlejuice boosting techniques favoured by spammers.

Who really killed Jesus?
Do the Bible Codes predict The Passion controversy?

The sensationalist tabloid headline version of Buy our crap. Complete with fake endorsements — just like the movie.

Passion of Christ
Recent wave of Godly programs? Recent wave of Satanic programs?

There's the Convert, you godless heathens. Oh, and buy our crap kind of ad.

Passion — True to Script?
Read Jesus' exact words from the original eyewitness biographies.

The usual bunch of ads luring you to eBay or Amazon make an apearance. But there's also a curious group that figure if you've seen the movie, you'll be jonesing for a new bible. How can you resist a bible has been completely remastered and is touted as being a first edition.

Prepare for the Passion
1st edition copy of new Douay Bible Completely remastered, in leather.

The What the hell, learn a dead language marketing ploy, the site fudges the truth a little because you get presented with Hebrew instead of Aramaic. I think these guys are playing off the inherent stupidity of the loony fundies who will flock to the movie and not understand the difference.

Understand The Passion?
Learn Hebrew and Aramaic at Home No-Risk Video CD Course from Israel

The warez sites are not about the look a gift horse in the mouth, so there's also a heap of ads tempting you to download the movie or buy pirated versions.

You run one post about Mel's crappy vanity pick and you're innundated by tat merchants. Isn't there something in the bible about merchants being the spawn of satan?

Opinions of the Wolf: Opinion - Red Wolf, March 2004.

March 4, 2004

Girl Scouts Vilified by Fundies

United States: The loony fundies have always got their knickers in a knot over something, but this time the object of their wrath are the Girl Scouts. It seems that the Girl Scouts have been rubbing shoulders with Planned Parenthood and the fundies are terrified that their little angels may actually get a decent bloody sex education and have jumped on their usual wagon of hatred and bigotry.

The furor was started a few weeks ago by the leader of the anti-abortion group Pro-Life Waco, who sent out e-mails and ran ads on a Christian radio station urging people to boycott Girl Scout cookies because of the cozy relationship between the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood.

Parents were upset to learn that the local Girl Scout organization had given a woman of distinction award last year to a Planned Parenthood executive. And they were disturbed to find out that the Girl Scout organization has been giving its endorsement for years to a Planned Parenthood sex-ed program in which girls and boys are given literature on homosexuality, masturbation and condoms.

It's not that we're a bunch of activists. We're just a bunch of moms who care about their kids, said Lisa Aguilar, who took her 10-year-old daughter out of her eight-member Girl Scout troop. For us, it's the morality. Where is Girl Scouts going?

Drunken Polish Nun Crashes her Tractor

Poland: After sampling the communal wine a Benedictine nun in Poland fired up the tractorgot herself in a bit of bother.

A Benedictine nun in Poland could lose her driving licence, after hitting a car parked outside her convent while drunk at the wheel of a tractor.
Police say the 45-year-old nun was not even in a fit state to blow into a breathalyser, after the accident at Krzeszow in the country's south-east.
A spokesman says officers are awaiting the results of a blood-alcohol test before charging her.

Drinking a factor as nun crashes tractor - AFP, 3rd March 2004.

What's Popcorn in Aramaic?

United Kingdom: The wits over at The Guardian have come up with a glossary of useful Aramaic phrases to help enrich your enjoyment of The Passion of The Christ.

B-kheeruut re'yaaneyh laa kaaley tsuuraathaa khteepaathaa, ellaa Zaynaa Mqatlaanaa Trayaanaa laytaw!
It may be uncompromising in its liberal use of graphic violence, but Lethal Weapon II it ain't.
Da'ek teleyfoon methta'naanaak, pquud. Guudaapaw!
Please turn off your mobile phone. It is blasphemous.
Shbuuq shuukhaaraa deel. Man ethnaggad udamshaa?
Sorry I'm late. Have I missed any scourging?
Aykaa beyt tadkeetha? Zaadeq lee d-asheeg eeday men perdey devshaanaayey haaleyn!
Where is the loo? I need to wash my hands of this popcorn.

Bargain of the Day: Bodies for Christ

Despite the name, the Bodies for Christ does not exhort Chrsitians to go out and kill those who disagree with them, but it might just help the sort of nut who thinks that's a good idea.

Sheri has a passion to help people know who they are in Christ and understand that they can have victory in life, no matter what area. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we should honor our body. She has designed a series of Christian exercise videos called Bodies for Christ because it is vital for Christians to be God's hands and feet and ready to serve.

The video Firm and Tight is the one for you if you need to hang around cruising grounds prior to a good queerbashing:

This exercise program will increase calorie burning muscle and will tone and tighten your buttocks, hips, thighs, arms, back and belly! Faith Breaks are throughout the entire exercise video, which are filled with the word of God. The word of God will build your faith and propel you to finish the entire workout program.

March 3, 2004

Culture corner

Orcinus has republished a review of The Passion of the Christ as a series of 40 points. Here are just a few of them:

2) The film is only anti-Semitic if you consider it anti-Semitic to portray Jews as an unruly crowd of evil, hook-nosed Christ killers.
9) Keeping children away from the ultra-violence and subversive messages of films such as Harry Potter and Saturday morning cartoons is a good thing. Exposing them to the long, slow, bloody, torturous death of the Savior of all mankind is also a good thing. Go figure.
14) A little known fact: Jesus must have been a hemophiliac. Because near as I can tell, his blood never coagulates.
25) Filming the movie with the dialogue in ancient, dead languages may at first seem pretentious. But it helps convey the documentary-nature of the film the best. And you can have a crowd of Jews chant about Jesus' death being on the heads of them and their children forever without having to actually put the words up on the screen. That isn't anti-Semitic either.
36) Watching blood geyser into the air and splatter over everything in Kill Bill was too much gore. Watching blood geyser into the air and splatter over everything in The Passion of The Christ was just right. Coincidentally, almost the exact same amount of fake blood was used in the filming of both movies.

Tattoo Ideas for Jesus

United States: Last week the always amusing Mark Markford proposed a question in his Morning Fix Newsletter; If Jesus Christ were to get a tattoo, what would it be of, where would it go, and why? And the responses rolled in.

Darwin fish, left ankle. Eye in the Pyramid, both palms. — David Mountain
It would be of Magdalene, as his consort. He would put it on his chest near his heart, and it would be of her because every Male deity needs have a female shakti to balance him. — Christine Berger

Catholic Group Is Told to Pay for Birth Control

United States: The courts have thrown out the attempt by fundie employers to weasel out of including birth control in medical coverage.

The California Supreme Court ruled Monday that Catholic Charities must provide its employees in California with medical coverage for birth control, in spite of its religious objections to contraception.

The ruling has sweeping implications for religion-based nonprofit organizations and hospitals throughout the state and could influence decisions made in at least 20 other states that have similar laws requiring employers to provide contraception as part of employee health coverage, legal experts said. A similar case, brought by Catholic and Protestant organizations, is winding its way through the New York courts.

Catholic Group Is Told to Pay for Birth ControlNew York Times, 2nd March 2004.

Here comes the science bit

United States: The American Anthropological Association has issued a statement in response to President Bush's call for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage as a threat to civilization.

The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.
The Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association strongly opposes a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.

Which less polite people might wish to translate as Bush is talking bollocks. Statement on Marriage and the Family from the American Anthropological Association - American Anthopological Association press release, 25th February 2004 (via Gallimaufry)

March 2, 2004

Bargains of the Day: Pentagram frenzy

[Pentagram Rug]Several exciting Wiccan items caught the attention of the bargain seeker at Prattle Towers. Firstly, cover that odd stain with a Pentagram Carpet black heavy duty THICK:

This carpet is 3'4" diameter with a silver pentagram on a black background. Carpets are made with 100% jute backing and heavy duty weaving. (real deal carpet, not just a throw rug). Colors won't bleed or fade with use.

Not enough room? Well here's a Pentagram Watch black band black/white face

A high-quality, waterproof, unisex wrist watch. The face shows a pentagram with silver hands. It comes with a black leather band that fits both man and woman. Easily compares to a $50 retail watch. But we manufacture so you SAVE!

What? One pentagram isn't enough? Well the same vendor also offers sets of 10 NEW Pentagram Stickers white/black or black/purple:

These decorative stickers can be used for letters, envelopes and much more. 1.5" diameter, self adhesive! There are 10 stickers for $2. This auction is for one set of stickers.

Leviticus 11:9-12

God hates shrimp just as much as those icky pooves, don't you know?

Shrimp, crab, lobster, clams, mussels, all these are an abomination before the Lord, just as gays are an abomination. Why stop at protesting gay marriage? Bring all of God's law unto the heathens and the sodomites. We call upon all Christians to join the crusade against Long John Silver's and Red Lobster. Yea, even Popeye's shall be cleansed. The name of Bubba shall be anathema. We must stop the unbelievers from destroying the sanctity of our restaurants.

(via Sister Kitty Catalyst)

Computer Declares Passion The Mark Of The Beast

United States: The computerised ticket machines in a Georgia theatre seem to have a sense of humour, they stamped the tickets to The Passion of the Christ with the number 666.

Tickets at one movie theater screening Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ are being deemed decidedly unholy.
The number 666, which many Christians recognize as the mark of the beast, is appearing on movie tickets for Gibson's film at a Georgia theater, drawing complaints from some moviegoers.

Black Is Better Than Gay

United States: Apparently deciding that black people are a lesser evil than gay people, the loony fundies from the Family Research Council are trying to enlist black Christians to believe the lie that opposing gay marriage isn't a breach of civil rights.

Speaking recently to a group of black evangelical ministers and lay people here, Genevieve Wood of the conservative Family Research Council made an impassioned plea. Black Christians, she said, must speak out against advocates of gay marriage.
They are wrapping themselves in the flag of civil rights, said Ms. Wood, who is white, as visitors from across the country shook their heads in dismay. I can make arguments against that. But not nearly like you all can.

Both Sides Court Black Churches in the Debate Over Gay Marriage - New York Times [BugmeNot], 1st March 2004.

March 1, 2004

Bargains of the Day: LASER 3D IMAGES in Crystal

When I was in New York recently, I spotted a block of clear stuff containing a 3D image of the World Trade Center with Jesus spreading his arms above the Twin Towers. I regret not buying such a superlative piece of tat, and have failed to find one online. This comes close, but the dove is far too pacifist an image for Bargain of the Day. As penitence, therefore, I present to you the 'religious' section of Crystal Fox Gallery's Laser 3D images in Crystal. Enjoy.

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