June 2004 Archives

June 30, 2004

Blood As An Anti-Ghost Potion

India: I suppose there's some bizarre logic involved in the belief that drinking the blood of the people you kill will stop them from haunting you. The particular wingnut is question has finally been nabbed by the local plods.

A man suspected of killing three people and then drinking their blood to ward off their spirits was arrested in north India yesterday, police said.
Hiralal Totia was arrested in Shankarpur village in Uttar Pradesh state, police told the Press Trust of India.
Police said Totia killed a police officer and then sucked his blood. He did the same with two other victims — a taxi driver and a woman, they added.
Totia told police under interrogation that he drank the blood of his victims as he believed this would keep away their spirits.

'Vampire' killings arrest [BugMeNot] - AFP, 24th June 2004.

June 29, 2004

Another Bargain of the Day: Christian computer games

Mac users - fed up that most games developers either don't want your money at all, or think you have the patience to wait several years before giving it to them? Well, never fear Digital Praise understands, and their two new games will be available for both your favourite computer, and bug-ridden virus spreaders in the autumn. One problem: the company mission statement reads To glorify God through the development of software for children, teenagers and families that spreads the gospel of Jesus Christ while entertaining, enlightening and encouraging faith.. They claim their games will foster cooperation, forgiveness, tolerance and kindness, which is somewhat odd, given the company's rather cosy relationship with homophbic hate group Focus on the Family. It's first two games are based on their Adventures in Odyssey radio programme (and I bet that isn't a dramatisation of homoerotic Greek myths), and they will be sharing the Focus on the Family booth at a forthcoming trade show. (via MacCentral)

Bargain of the Day: Prayer Bear

My Prayer Bear is yet another gadget designed to ease the brainwashing of innocent children.

Developed for families of all faiths, this cuddly little prayer bear encourages children to say their prayers. Soft and reassuring, the bear will become a constant friend anc companion. Five bibs hold specially selected prayers for every part of life: *When I Eat *When I Play *When I am Sad *When I Sleep *When I Wake
By: Pockets of Learning
Size: 11"
Comments: 2 years and up
Educational Highlights: Children can learn to recite these prayers using pictures as visual clues * Encourages interaction between child and adult - reading prayers before bedtime * Rhyming will also encourage child to remember and read the prayers aloud

David Beckham is a spoon

In-ger-land: Uri Gellar fears he might have been responsible for David Beckham's fluffed penalty kick, which led to England's departure from the Euro 2004 football tournament.

The fifty seven year old Israel born psychic said that while trying to transmit positive energy to the England players he may have caused the ball to bend over the bar.I'm not a miracle worker, but I do believe in the power of consciousness. I was trying to send positive energy, the Sun quoted him as saying.

Uri Gellar 'Bent it for Beckham'! - Webindia123.com, 29th June 2004.

Belief in witchcraft stymies committee

Botswana: The activities of a Village Development Committee (VDC) have ground to a halt because of the members' belief in witchcraft. Whenever there is a problem, no-one will raise the issue for fear that they will be cursed. Facillitators at the umbrella organisation Botswana Community Based Organization Network (BOCOBONET) are exasperated:

Abel Mabei a facilitator from BOCOBONET, told the participants to be vigilant, ignore witchcraft and always elect responsible committee members. Mabei said it was high time people learnt that witchcraft does not exist. He warned that if witchcraft beliefs' overpower their thinking the village would lag behind in development projects. He told the participants that a committee must not sit in office for a long time since it risks becoming redundant. He said a committee must only sit for one term then a new one should be elected. VDC committees should be elected annually so that people don't occupy the same position for long. People should do their part and then go while those who elected them still love them. If they stay long, then you start to see their wrong doings and that's when fear is initiated, he said pointing out that some members were power hungry such that they would do anything to get re-elected. Even witchcraft can be used as a tool depending on people's beliefs, he said.
Mabei said all members in the committee should know that they have the same powers as the chairman and are allowed to challenge him or her. The facilitator said that the chairman is a leader and was not supposed to be feared. You should not treat your leader like a god. The leader is your mouthpiece and should not be feared. If fear rules, you will be oppressed by power hungry people, he said, adding that things are stolen in community projects and people keep quiet out of fear. He said leaders enslave others and personalize organizations by threatening or dividing people through fear and people choose to keep quite hence the whole system collapses.

Witchcraft leads to poor performance of VDC - MMEGI, 29th June 2004.

June 28, 2004

Bargain of the Day: Saint Guadalupe Quartz Clock

This spectacular contemporary rococco Saint Guadalupe Quartz Clock can only enhance your living room with its sleek, modern lines:

Intricately hand painted statue and monument of Saint Guadalupe with Quartz Clock. Made of heavy cast resin with Arabic numerals. Stands 12" tall Uses 1 AA battery. (not included)

The bottom line

Hungary: Clients at Hungary's only private ceremony will soon be able to choose a Buddhist, Shinto or Pagan funeral in addition to the Christian and civil options already offered.

Jávor says the cemetery only indirectly benefits from the new services, as it does not act as a middleman between the clients and the priests. However, he stresses, such services are not available in other cemeteries.

In theory, it is absolutely possible to have such funeral services in other cemeteries as well, but so far this has not been offered as a service at any such facility, he explains. We expect that the increasing influx of foreigners to Hungary will also increase the demand for religious funeral services other than those of the Christian churches.

Buddhism is apparently rather popular in Hungary, and there is a Buddhist college in Budapest.

Minority ritesBudapest Business Journal, 28th June 2004.

Familiar claims

Cyprus: Richard Bartholemew has compiled a useful article on the Satanic panic the Orthodox church is trying to whip up in Cyprus. In it, he looks at the background to some of the characters involved, and the rather loose definition of Satanism used - it seems if a teenager experiences pleasure, or any other emotion, while listening to rock music, then that counts as experience of Satanism and Occultism.

June 27, 2004

And they wonder why people are leaving.

Scotland: The high heedyins on the Isle of Lewis have decided that if their imaginary friend won't let them swim on Sundays, then no-one else can either.

We opposed it mainly because of Biblical reasons. We believe we are still governed by God's law and regard Sunday opening as a breach of the Fourth Commandment. But we also were concerned that, if we were to open the sports centre, the floodgates would open for other sporting activities - such as bowling, golf, five-aside football - on a Sunday.

Health campaigners pointed out that it was ridiculous that you could get drunk on Sunday, but not go for a swim. Even more ironically, the centre was funded through gambling - something the Wee Frees do not approve of. Perhaps the council should give back the cash they got from the National Lottery.

God-fearing Lewis bans Sunday swims - The Observer, 27th June 2004.

God-botherer invents 'pagan' rites for abuse

Australia: The Queensland National Party official accused of underage sex with young men has been found guilty, much to his own astonishment. Garry Robin Ford proclaimed that God would judge his accusers. The allegations involved some rather unrecognisable 'pagan' rituals (a term the Murdoch-owned NEWS.com.au uses without qualification).

The Supreme Court in Brisbane was told schoolboys had sat in a candle-lit circle as their black-caped teacher chanted and danced.
They allegedly performed sex acts on each other and on Ford to be initiated into his White Brotherhood sect.

Ford had earlier told the court that he was trying to mentor one of the youths to put God first.

Although fundies are likely to proclaim that this case is definite proof of satanic ritual abuse, it matches rather closely a phenomenon observed by Professor Jean LaFontaine back in 1994. She stated that the defining characteristic of satanic abuse was that the sexual and physical abuse of children is part of rites directed to a magical or religious objective and observed that there was no evidence that these have taken place in any of the 84 cases studied. She then went on to describe what she called 'ritual abuse' (though believers in the myth do not make such a differentiation):

Three substantiated cases of ritual, not satanic, abuse were found. These are cases in which self-proclaimed mystical/magical powers were used to entrap children and impress them (and also adults) with a reason for the sexual abuse, keeping the victims compliant and ensuring their silence. In these cases the ritual was secondary to the sexual abuse which clearly formed the primary objective of the perpetrators. The rituals performed in these cases did not resemble those that figured in the allegations of the other 81 cases. [LaFontaine 1994, 30. Emphasis in original.]

In her more detailed analysis, she stated that the 'rituals' were invented and led by single individuals and that none of the three men concerned learned the rituals from belonging to an occult group [LaFontaine 1994, 24]. Books relating to the ritual context were found but none of them were by Satanists or Aleister Crowley [ibid.]. In a later book, she explained that this was because in two of the three cases the ideas and practices did not resemble any known occult beliefs or rituals [LaFontaine 1998, 85]. The only case which did bear such a resemblance involved a man who clearly wasn't an occultist, claiming that he was Lucifer! If that's an occultist, then the perpetrator in one of the other cases, who claimed he was on a mission from the Virgin Mary, is a Catholic.

Ex-Nats official guilty of teen sex - NEWS.com.au, 27th June 2004; LaFontaine, J. S. 1994. The Extent and Nature of Organised and Ritual Abuse: Research Findings, London, HMSO; LaFontaine, J. S. 1998. Speak of the Devil. Tales of satanic abuse in contemporary England, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press; Campaign Office in Trouble Over Orgies - Pagan Prattle 27th June 2004.

Campaign Office in Trouble Over Orgies

Australia: Apparently I live under a rock and missed this delightful gem that the lovely Feòrag sent my way.

A jury in Brisbane has heard claims of orgies in a unit used as a National Party electoral campaign office during the lead-up to Queensland's historic 1989 state election.

This is when the Nats were ousted from their 32 year reign in power. Their dictator in chief was Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen who finally managed to get caught out and was forced to resign in 1987. So things were not looking too rosy for a National Party win in the 1989 elections when the master of election rigging was no longer at the helm.

Bargain of the Day: war toys

Help your child grow up into a young thug by giving them plastic weapons to bash their mates with. No, that can't be right, you see this Full Armor Of God Child Play Set is A Christian Character-Building Costume.

Play and learn about God's protection for Spiritual Battle. Complete set based on Ephesians 6:13-18, for ages 3 and up. Each item is made of molded, flexible plastic designed to fit most children. Adjustable straps and velcro allow children to wear certain pieces. Each item is labeled in order to recall God's Word. The set includes: The Sword of the Spirit, the Helmet of Salvation, the breastplate of Righteousness, the Belt of Truth, the Shield of Faith, the Gospel of Peace Shin Guards, and a Parent-Teacher Guide with suggested activities and scripture verses. Box may have some wear do to shipping, but the contents are in perfect condition.

Bet the little brats just go out and play soldiers in it.

June 26, 2004

Buddha Burgers

Thailand: A Buddhist temple is to withdraw ceremonial fans emblazoned with the logo of a fast food chain after an outcry from worshippers.

Buddhist monks hold the fans while chanting and one mourner told a newspaper that whenever she looked up expecting spiritual comfort during a funeral, she saw a sign urging her to eat at MK.
The fans, normally embroidered with images of temples or religious symbols, have been emblazoned with the MK logo - akin to putting the McDonalds's arches on Bibles in Westminster Abbey - since the chain's owners paid for four pavilions to be built at the Samian Naree temple.
We might even see the logo of a massage parlour if they donate, said one senator, Kamphol Phumanee.

Sponsored fans cause unholy row in temple - Daily Telegraph, 26th June 2004.

'Islamic' black magic

Tanzania: A Muslim member of parliament has threatened to cast a spell on government ministers if nothing is done to fight corruption.

He told parliament that he would use a Koranic verse to make ministers drop deadlike locusts...

...Mr [Masoud Haroub] Saidi, MP for Koani in Pemba Isle, said that he decided to turn to the Koran because as a Muslim he believes that it is the strongest method of punishing corrupt elements.

When we [Muslims] want to stop things from happening we use Halbadiri - an Islamic death curse.

Halbadiri cannot harm a clean person. But those people who continue to commit such evil deeds will be affected, he said.

It doesn't sound like the sort of thing a good Muslim would do - I thought Islam had the same kind of downer on magic as Christianity. Anyone know better?

Death curse for Tanzania ministersBBC News, 25th June 2004.

Male insecurity writ large

South Africa: IOL has published a fresh article about the 'Men Against Moffies' web site, with further details. While the site claimed not to encourage or support violence, Glenn de Swardt of the Triangle Project points out:

The website hosts a survey that poses the question: What should be done with South Africa's moffies?

Visitors to the site can vote for a series of options, including castration, deportation or 'Sizzlers them'... This distasteful reference to a tragic event in our city's history represents hate speech and promotes violence.

The 'distateful event' in question was an arson attack on a gay massage parlour last year which killed nine men.

The site uses religious books to justify its stance and, like fundie sites everywhere, has a creative way with the English language:

It crudely asks: Do you hate moffies? The silly jestures (sic) they make, the annoying falsetto whiney (sic) voices, the stupid clothes they wear?

The site has been cached, and the religious aspects are there for all to see. The site is in the form of a community blog, and one correspondent notes that the Satanic Bible mentions that any kind of consensual sex is fine - this is presumably the link between homosexuality and Satanism. And they're not only trawling the Christian scriptures for justification for their hate, Allah is roped in too. It seems that the Muslim version of the story of Sodom is more clearly homophobic than the version in the Bible...

Gays outraged by castration call on websiteIOL, 26th June 2004.

New Ager calls for more pollution

Scotland: The owner of a New Age tat and bookshop in Edinburgh's Old Town is blaming parking restrictions in the city's narrow streets for the closure of his business. His shop, Wildwood Books, is on the main tourist drag, the Royal Mile and the fact that tourism is substantially down, since Americans became scared of flying, appears to have nothing to do with it.

Parking blamed as city tycoon closes stores - Edinburgh Evening News (BugMeNot), 26th June 2004.

Kids like it, so it must be bad

Bulgaria: The next Harry Potter will feature Stanislav Ianevski playing the part of Quidditch star Viktor Krum. So what's the reaction in his home country?

Bulgaria's Church has raised an alarm over the Harry Potter movies.
Clerics condemned incantation scenes that are repeatedly shown in the Potter films, which continue to stir craze among kids and teenagers internationally.

Bulgaria's Church Frowning at Potter - Sofia News Agency, 26th June 2004.

Rock music promotes hatred

The Vatican: The Roman Catholic Church has jumped onto the Satanism bandwagon, with the publication by its news agency of a rather odd interview with 'journalist' Carlo Climati, in which he accuses rock bands of spreading a non-culture of violence, drugs and hatred. He describes the slippery slope along which a sweet, innocent adolescent becomes a hard-core Satanic criminal, through the evils of the net:

The first phase generally consists of the simple and banal interest in a Satanic singer. First, a young person buys his CDs and is passionate about his music. But then he feels the need to know more about the singer.
The second step is knowledge of the texts of the songs and the consequent exposure to a transgressive philosophy of life.
The third phase is the young person's purchase of music magazines that talk about his favorite singer. Lately, in certain rock periodicals, there is not just talk of music, but also of Satanism and esotericism. Sometimes even addresses are given of Satanic sects or Internet sites of singers linked to the world of the occult.
So, in order to know more, the fourth phase is entered: the search on Internet. Starting from simple curiosity for the sites of Satanic rock singers, there is the risk of going to the pages of authentic sects, or discussion groups frequented by Satanists.
The fifth and last phase is the young person's direct contact, through e-mail, with a sect or a practitioner of black magic.

At least he didn't accuse Satanists of sexually abusing children and then covering up the evidence.

5 Phases of an Adolescent's Slide Into Satanism - Zenit, 25th June 2004; Lazy Cops Blame Satan - Pagan Prattle, 11th June 2004.

Church blames Satan for problems it helped cause.

Cyprus: Having successfully scuppered the latest attempt to bring peace and stability to the divided island, the Greek Orthodox Church is trying to blame Satanism for the troubles of its youth.

Father Christoforos Tsiakkas has been involved in dealing with the problems that youngsters face that leave them vulnerable to the temptations of the occult. At a news conference, Father Christoforos presented evidence of the presence of Satanism in Limassol and warned that a satanic temple had already been founded in the city.
There is a circle of monuments around the leadership of five to six people. Their leader was initiated abroad and has founded a satanic temple in Limassol, the priest claimed.

And outrageous claims are being made in an attempt to frighten gullible parents.

Father Christoforos said a school principal had asked for his help in dealing with the mass initiation of school students into Satanism.
They promise them power, energy and they have a solution to all of their problems, he said.
But they are only turned into pawns.

Unlike the long history of free thought promoted by established churches? A government minister has already dismissed the claims, suggesting that the reality is much more down-to-earth.

Church concern over Satanism claims - Cyprus Mail, 26th June 2004; Police ignore crime to chase shadows - Pagan Prattle, 14th March 2004.

June 25, 2004

Rapist calls victim 'Pagan' to influence jury. Fails.

England: A rapist's cynical attempt to use bigotry to influence the jury failed, when Luke Weekes was convicted of an horrific attack on a 27-year-old woman.

Describing his victim as a Goth Pagan with vampiric overtones, he claimed she had not only seduced him, but insisted on the blood games that followed.

But the jury was having none of it, and unanimously convicted him of one charge of rape, two of indecent assault, and one each of unlawful imprisonment, causing actual bodily harm and outraging public decency.

Rapist Drank Victim's Blood in Terrifying Attack - The Scotsman (BugMeNot), 25th June 2004.

Note to fundies: read the AUP

South Africa: A homphobic web site has recenly been pulled because it violated its host's Acceptable Use Policy. Men Against Moffies called for the reclaiming of Cape Town from the homosexual plague and claimed there was a link between homosexuality and Satanism.

Gays furious about website's 'hate speech'IOL, 25th June 2004.

Pour encourager les autres

France: So, you are a racist fuckwit and hate Muslims. You think they are unpatriotic scum, so what better way to encourage them to care for their country than to desecrate a cemetary for Muslims who died fighting in the French army?

Vandals have daubed swastikas on the graves of Muslim soldiers in a military cemetery in Alsace, eastern France.
Seven gravestones were also smashed in the attack on the cemetery in Hagenau, north of Strasbourg.
The graves were those of Muslim soldiers who died fighting for France in the first and second world wars.

Jacques Chirac spoke out strongly against the attack, calling it an insult to the memory of the soldiers who gave their lives for our country. This is the latest of a string of attacks on Muslim and Jewish sites in the Alsace region.

Muslim graves defaced in France - BBC News, 24th June 2004.

June 24, 2004

Sweating it out

Nepal: devotees are worried after a statue of Bhima, the second Pandava, started to 'sweat'. Apparently, the holy perspiration always comes before a terrible disaster.

Disaster, most Nepalese believe, has befallen their country every time the image sheds sweat. And the catalogue of such calamities is quite long, the most recent one being the 2001 massacre of King Birendra and his family.
In the past, the sweating had preceded the 1934 earthquake that killed thousands in Kathmandu, the 1940 hanging of Nepal's first four democracy fighters by the Ranas, the 1950 anti-Rana revolution, the passing away of King Tribhuvan and King Mahendra (grandfather and father of the present monarch) in 1953 and 1972 respectively and the 1988 earthquake that caused destruction in many parts of the kingdom.

Anxious Nepal tries to placate 'sweating' deity - Hindustan Times, 23rd June 2004.

Suicide blamed on Satanists

South Africa: Religious Studies graduate Chris Roper is fed up with the tendency of journalists and police officials to cry "Satan!" every time they come across a crime involving an over-sexed, pimply adolescent with a candle fetish and a bad taste in music, and would like to see some common sense. Referring to the apparent suicide of a young woman in Magaliesberg last week, he complains

This is the bit that really gets my goat (oh oh, shouldn't have admitted I've got a goat). Burnt candles and a bottle of alcohol found near a piece of ground that had been cleared to make way for a circular rock structure brought members of the police Occult Related Crimes Unit to the scene.

Give me a break! Candles to see by, booze to pluck up courage, and a pile of rocks to jump off? And suddenly Satan is wandering around in the Magaliesberg? Surely he has enough to do down at SAFA?

The very fact that we have a Crimes Unit that apparently believes in Satan makes me laugh. And even if I also believed in Satan, I'd have to say - you can't even put Winnie Mandela behind bars, but you expect to clap the cuffs on Lucifer, the Prince of Darkness? Dream on, buddy.

Then he points out the reporting of a quote which bears an uncanny resemblance to the sort of thing trotted out by those who believe in the Satanic child abuse myth:

My favourite bit of the hanging story is the quote by a local resident: I've heard rumours of satanic rituals taking place on the mountain but I have personally never seen anything and I climb that mountain myself sometimes.

Well, there you have it: the absence of evidence PROVES that satanic rituals take place there. If they weren't Satanists, they'd have nothing to hide. This is an example of dross in a news story. The quote serves the function of legitimising the rumour of Satanism, even though its literal meaning is - there is no Satanism.

Satan ate my brainNews24, 22nd June 2004.

What I did on my holidays

Partei Bibeltreur Christen poster - Europe für Jesus - spotted in central BerlinGermany: It seems the United Kingdom was not alone in having a barking mad loony fundie party contest the European Elections (see Fetch the swingometer, Pagan Prattle 28th May 2004) - Germany has the Partei Bibeltreuer Christen (Bible-believing Christian Party, or something like that). As this poster, photographed in the centre of Berlin shows, they do not believe in the separation of church and state. Their platform also included the traditional (and nowhere in the Bible) ban on abortion, and the promotion of a non-existent, idealised family. They are currently celebrating scoring a massive 0.38% of the vote in the election - they needed just over 13 times that to get a seat. In Berlin itself, they scooped a whopping 0.24% of the vote. Depressingly, 30,000 more people voted for them this time than last.

June 23, 2004

Bargain of the Day: Creepy Jesus Antenna

Europe: There are European companies that specialise in camouflaged mobile masts and antennae, as a panacaea to those that find the things eyesores. One firm is now manufacturing an antenna disguised as a crucifix, intended to go on the steeples of churches. Get your creepy Jesus mobile antenna now!

European companies are finding ingenious ways to disguise ugly, but necessary, mobile phone antenna masts. Customers can pick everything from trees to crucifixes.

Religious Groups Unite Against Fundamentalist Extremist

Ireland: It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling when diverse religious groups unite to protest against loony fundamentalists. With the Shrub's history of isolating himself from reality, I doubt the silly bastard will know the dissent exists, but good luck to them regardless.

A group of leading Irish religious representatives came out in support of protests against the forthcoming visit of US President George Bush to Ireland.
Christian, Buddhist and Muslim representatives, together with the NGO Peace Alliance, have planned a number of peaceful protests for this weekend.
They are calling on Irish people to join their demonstrations taking place in Dublin and at Dromoland Castle, where the US President is staying.
Fr Frank Brady said: George Bush is portraying the American people as dishonest, deceitful and untrustworthy. I don't think that that is fair. I think we need to protest and raise our voices.

Religious urge protests against Bush visit - Ireland On-Line, 21st June 2004.

June 22, 2004

Pope To See Vicar Of Dibley

Vatican: Maybe it's just me, but I find the idea of the Pope getting access to The Vicar of Dibley, Absolutely Fabulous and Tipping the Velvet hilarious.

The Pope will be able to watch EastEnders and The Vicar of Dibley after the BBC signed a deal to broadcast in the Vatican.
BBC Prime will also screen the racy lesbian drama Tipping the Velvet, the makeover show What Not To Wear, Fawlty Towers and the Teletubbies.

June 21, 2004

Catholic Church Pimping For Bush

United States: With the boys in frocks taking a public political stance, it looks like it's time to strip the Catholic church of its tax exempt status. Funny how this came about a week after King George II pimped his loony fundie stance to the Pope and requested the doddering old pontiff run interference with his opposite number.

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops approved a statement on Friday on Catholics in Political Life that brands politicians who support abortion rights as cooperating in evil and leaves the door open for bishops to deny communion to such lawmakers.
The bishops, meeting outside Denver, stopped short of saying that those lawmakers should be forbidden to take communion. But they reminded all Catholics that they were not worthy to receive communion until they had examined their consciences, including their fidelity to the moral teaching of the church in personal and public life.
The bishops also asserted unequivocally that the Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not give awards, honors or platforms to Catholics who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.

June 20, 2004

Seeing Things In Genoa

Italy: Ah, the Italians. If they're not blaming phantom Satanic cults for murders, they're seeing things in religious icons.

Thousands of faithful and curious Italians have visited a statue of Christ after a woman said she saw the face of mystic monk Padre Pio appear on the bronze figure in the north-western city of Genoa.
The Cardinal of Genoa came to see it last night and he agreed that there was a face but said that further investigations were needed, Mauro Boccaccio, spokesman for the regional government of Liguria, said.

Statue with the face of a monk - Reuters, 20th June 2004.

Paedophile Taskforce Nets Ministers

Australia: The great unwashed are always making claims about Scoutmasters being secret kiddie fiddlers. Not in Adelaide, where the cops netted two former Anglican ministers, a former Salvation Army officer, a former junior surf lifesaving coach, two former leaders of the Church of England Boys Society and nary a Scoutmaster in sight.

Two former Anglican ministers and a former Salvation Army officer are among nine people arrested over several days for child sex offences by a South Australian police taskforce.

Those arrested also include a former junior surf lifesaving coach and two former leaders of the Church of England Boys Society.

The first of the nine arrests was made last Thursday by the South Australian Police paedophile task force as part of their investigations into child sex abuse claims within the Anglican Church in Adelaide.

June 19, 2004

Pot Calling Kettle Black

United States: The always amusing Mark Morford drags a pompous little fundie into the light and takes a look a bizarre American culture, or lack thereof.

June 18, 2004

Mormon Assassination Plot and the Ones That Didn't Get Away

United States: Murder, dismemberment, a Mormon cult, the death penalty, and Playboy model Kerissa Fare. Oh, and Rohypnol. What more could you want?

This may be the year of the celebrity trial — Michael Jackson the King of Pop on child molestation charges, the basketball star Kobe Bryant accused of rape, the legendary record producer Phil Spector indicted for murder — but the kookiest, darkest, most grimly compelling court case in America may well be one that is receiving almost no media attention at all.
This week, a jury in Martinez, a small town outside San Francisco, will retire to consider the bizarre, brutally violent cult surrounding one Glenn Taylor Helzer, a lapsed Mormon accused of bludgeoning and dismembering five people in an elaborate extortion racket intended to hasten the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Helzer, a former stockbroker who has already pleaded guilty and faces the death penalty, exerted a charismatic hold over an eclectic group of followers including his younger brother, a former girlfriend turned Playboy centrefold model, and a self-described good witch who once offered to raise money for Armageddon by appearing in porn films.

German Football Superstitions

Portugal: Whether this is a true case of triskaidekaphobia, racism or a more practical concern that the Bulgarians may have left a surprise behind that the cleaners haven't yet found is debatable, but the German football team for the Euro 2004 comp refuses to stay on the 13th floor.

Germany soccer team refused to stay on the 13th floor of a plush Lisbon hotel, fearing it will bring bad luck in the Euro 2004 competition.
The squad have asked the management of the five-star Corinthia Alfa hotel to allocate them different floors to the Bulgarian team, which had just checked out of the hotel.
The German team are due to come to our hotel next week and they want two floors.
We already had the Bulgarian team on the 13th and 14th floors but the Germans say it brings bad luck, said Isabel Santos, the rooms division manager.
We will change, it's not a problem. We have 24 floors so they can have any floor they want, she told Reuters.
Germany play Czech Republic in their final Group D game next Wednesday in Lisbon.

Team Won't Stay on Hotel's 13th Floor - Reuters, 17th June 2004.

June 17, 2004

President Bush's Links To Wacky Cults

United States: Fun Neal Pollack article in The Stranger about President Bush's kooky religious beliefs.

This is also the kind of country where the president meets with the members of a radical, far-right millennialist Christian sect three weeks before he counteracts all known international law and opinion regarding the Israeli-Palestinian situation. That sect, known as the Apostolic Congress, opposes any deal with the Palestinians because it believes that Christ won't return to Earth until all of Israel belongs to the Jews and Solomon's temple is rebuilt.

Church & State - The Stranger, 10th June 2004 (via BoingBoing).

Mad Monk's Willy Lives On

Russia: Rasputin's family jewels, lovingly preserved in a pickle jar, are about to go on display in a Russian museum of erotica.

In a more innocent age, it was said that Gregory Efimovich Rasputin's legendary power over women was due to his piercing eyes.
But a new museum of erotica here suggests that the mad monk's charm may instead have been, ahem, concealed beneath his cassock.
Measuring 28.5cm (about 11 inches) — allowing for shrinkage caused by pickling — Rasputin's penis displayed in a tall glass bottle is, to put it delicately, a big attraction at the museum.

June 16, 2004

Swiss Put A VooDoo Whammy On Beckham

Switzerland: You've got to love a country with a wacky sense of humour.

Swiss fans have taken to voodoo to pin down England ahead of their Euro 2004 match Thursday.
Join in — give the English pains in their legs on June 17 against Switzerland, said the newspaper campaign which shows an effigy of England captain David Beckham with nails, screws and tacks stuck in his legs.
This might help: Rip out this page, stick it to the wall, give it a good going-over with nails, needles and the stapler. And believe in it, said the advertisement, a tongue-in-cheek campaign to promote Swiss advertising agencies.
England captain Beckham broke a bone in his foot in 2002 just before the World Cup although he played in the tournament.

Swiss Soccer Fans Pin Down England with Voodoo Campaign - Reuters, 15th June 2004.

June 15, 2004

Churches as Paid Mouthpieces for BushCo

United States: King George II has been recruiting churches to spread the Bush lies, a blatant breach of law and a damn fine reason to strip any church involved of their tax-exempt status.

The byplay was as inevitable as chickens being provided to the barrios of Mexico just before the eleccion. President Bush first opens the spigot of public money to churches and other faith-based groups to the tune of over a billion dollars last year, then he knocks on the faith community's door for a political favor, por favor.

The Bush-Cheney re-election campaign is not a bit embarrassed at being caught trying to organize a brigade of (mostly) Christian soldiers in houses of worship throughout Pennsylvania who would act as point people for the campaign. After reports emerged that the Bush campaign's national headquarters asked the Pennsylvania contingent to identify 1,600 'Friendly Congregations' in Pennsylvania where voters friendly to President Bush might gather on a regular basis, Steve Schmidt, a spokesman for the Bush administration, told the New York Times: People of faith have as much right to participate in the political process as any other community.

Catholic Church Outsourcing Prayers To India

United States: As if it wasn't bad enough that IT workers were losing their jobs to overseas outsourcers, now the Catholics are outsourcing prayers to Indian priests.

With Roman Catholic clergy in short supply in the United States, Indian priests are picking up some of their work, saying Mass for special intentions, in a sacred if unusual version of outsourcing.

American, as well as Canadian and European churches, are sending Mass intentions, or requests for services like those to remember deceased relatives and thanksgiving prayers, to clergy in India.

About 2 percent of India's more than one billion people are Christians, most of them Catholics.

June 14, 2004

Priest Publishes Memoirs of his Sex Romps

Argentina: Father Mariani has gotten the grand poohbahs in frocks off-side with by publishing his memoirs of sex romps as a priest. The church may be miffed, but the book has almost sold out, proving the old maxim that sex sells.

A 77-year-old Roman Catholic priest in Argentina has published his memoirs recounting sex with women and a frustrated gay liaison, angering Church officials.

The autobiography No Beating About The Bush. The Life of a Priest, tells of the life and loves of Father Jose Mariani in a posh parish in Cordoba, Argentina's third biggest city where he has been a priest for 53 years.

I could hear my heart beat in ecstasy before the beauty of the body offered before me. I smothered the body with the sweat of my skin, Mariani wrote in the book about having sex with a woman.

June 13, 2004

Loony Fundie Plays Politics With Teenagers Lives

Australia: What sort of moron puts a loony fundie in charge of health decisions? Little Johnny Coward, of course. The repressed and moronic Tony Abbott, a staunch Catholic and firm believer in keeping women of all ages barefoot and pregnant, has stuck his fool neck out and demanded that the morning after pill be yanked from pharmacies and that teenagers health records no longer be subject to doctor-patient confidentiality.

Federal Health Minister Tony Abbott wants to make the controversial morning-after pill a prescription-only drug, only six months after it was made available over the pharmacy counter.
Citing concern about media reports of 13-year-old girls requesting the emergency contraception, Mr Abbott said the obvious thing is simply to restore the situation that existed before the de-scheduling by the National Drugs and Poisons Schedule Committee.

Apparently Mr Abbott is quite happy for 13-year-old girls to be having babies. The bloody law was changed so kids like this could gain access to a drug that could help them instead of forcing them to hide a pregnancy then smother the baby behind the bike sheds. Gee, which is the preferable option.

June 12, 2004

Gibson Takes a Swipe at Packer

Australia: Gibson is suing the company that distributed his snuff flick on the grounds that they gipped him out of his cut of the profits. Money certainly does speak louder than the tenets of the bloke he claims to venerate.

Jesus may have chased the money men out of the temple, but Mel Gibson claims they left without paying him a fortune in box office receipts.

Icon Distribution, Gibson's film company, is suing Regal Entertainment Group, the largest cinema company in the world, for $US40 million ($57.2 million) and as much as $US20 million in damages for allegedly reneging on a distribution contract for Gibson's film, The Passion of The Christ.

Icon claims that Regal, of which James Packer is a director, did not pay up its fair share of ticket revenue for the film, which beat all expectations when it opened to huge controversy in February.

June 11, 2004

Australian Churches Want Charlatan Tested

Australia: Professional charlatan Benny Hinn is about to tour Australia to part the gullible from their money. Local church leaders want the silly bastard to submit proof of his alleged miracles.

A modern Christian crusade led by American television evangelist Benny Hinn, a self-professed miracle-worker and faith healer, will be unleashed on Brisbane later this month.

More than 30,000 believers hoping for some kind of healing of body, mind or spirit, are expected to raise the roof of the Brisbane Entertainment Centre for two shows — sandwiched between shows in Chicago and Ohio — on June 25 and 26. They are his only shows in Australia.

Apart from those watching television during the vampire hours, relatively few Australians know of Hinn although his Orlando Christian Centre ministry, founded two decades ago, earns up to $100 million a year and is said to have a weekly world TV audience of more than 50 million.

In the US disbelievers have marred his church and concert hall performances by protesting outside venues and accusing the 51-year-old Lebanese-born tele-minister of preying on the sick and elderly.

Watchdog groups have been lobbying US Congress to pass legislation making it illegal to hawk anything that cannot be proven to deliver what it promises, and authorities have also been investigating his growing wealth.

Lazy Cops Blame Satan

Italy: The lovely Feòrag passed this on to me before she departed for her tour of the continent. Well, bits of it. All right, the fine purveyors of beer in Berlin.

It seems that the plods in Milan are either incredibly lazy, superstitious or both. When confronted with the bodies of two teenagers, rather than investigate, they jumped to the astounding conclusion that, as they were both members of a metal band, their deaths were the work of Satanists.

A gruesome find in a wood outside Milan has sparked fears that bored young Italians could be coming under the influence of Satanic cults.
The news has caused an outbreak of soul-searching in Catholic Italy.
Even hardened police officers were shocked by what they found outside the sleepy commuter town of Busto Arsizio.
Two teenagers' bodies were discovered in a makeshift grave, killed — police say — as part of a satanic ritual involving sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Hmm... sex, drugs and rock and roll, in my part of the world we call that a party.

June 9, 2004

Will the Powerpuff Girls be there?

Australia: The City of Townsville, and a behind-the-times church continues to whinge about Puppetry of the Penis, several years after it wowed audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe. Despite record-breaking ticket sales, the Townsville Calvary Assembly of God feels the show is not wanted in their community, and wants to preserve a surprisingly Neopagan attitude to sex:

I don't think people realise the implications of this show -- it is full of brazen exhibitionism and sexual connotations that simply debase something sacred. It debases sex and makes it animalistic and a figure of fun.

Penis puppetry angers church - Townsville Bulletin, 9th June 2004.

June 8, 2004

Religious Loonies Attack Playschool

Australia: A minority group of whingeing fundamentalists that go by the innocuous sounding name of the Australian Family Association — much like those notoriously rampant bigots from Focus on the Family — have set their letter writing monkeys to work complaining about the evil of Play School corrupting toddlers by forcing them to watch a segment featuring a child with two mothers. They even got their henchman from parliament, Larry Anthony, a known homophobic bigot, to play along.

June 7, 2004

'Satan' to Mel: 'Pthrrrrpp!!!!!!!'

United States: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has set a new record for opening day takings, and is third, behind Spider-Man and Shrek 2 for all-time opening weekend takings. In comparison, The Passion of the Christ is eighth in the all-time US opening weekend chart, proving less popular than any of the Harry Potter films, The Matrix Reloaded and X2: X-Men United. All three Harry Potter movies thrashed Mel Gibson's vanity pic on the opening day as well. Fundies who think Harry Potter is the work of Satan may draw their own conclusions.

New 'Potter' sets June box office records - Detroit Free Press, 7th June 2004; All Time Box Office Opening Weekends and All Time Box Office Top Opening Day Grosses - Box Office Mojo, 7th June 2004 (this latter chart disagrees with the press reports, and places Spider-Man top).

Gay men fund fundie bid to oppress them

The loony fundie party running in the European Parliamentary Elections in the UK on Thursday is funded with royalties from a song deliberately aimed at the gay market. Sinitta's So Macho was written by George Hargreaves, a songwriter and promoter who subsequenty turned Christian, and he has donated his royalties from that song to Opearation Christian Vote.

Ironically, he says he penned 'So Macho' not just for women but in a deliberate attempt to appeal to gay men's sense of humour...

It was a caricature of the medallion man, Hargreaves said. It was for women to dance round their handbags to and for the gay scene to go mad to on poppers, he admits. Despite this, Hargreaves does not accept the idea that his new vocation, which involves preaching on the sin of homosexuality, is hypocritical.

Those of us old enough to remember suspect the Buddhist Sinitta will not be impressed with her biggest hit being used to suppress women. Reverend's disco hit funds electoral bidScotland on Sunday, 6th June 2004 [BugMeNot] (thanks to Novice Nun the Wiser, OPI); see also Fetch the swingometerPagan Prattle, 28th May 2004.

June 4, 2004

Bargain of the day: Celtic Mahjong

It's rare for Neopagans to be marketed at - the Pagan Pound just doesn't have the buying power of a Pink one. But where there's a niche, there's someone willing to sell into it. Take Rhiannon's Realm: Celtic Mahjong Solitaire, for example, or more precisely, the blurb:

The first release by Evil Genius Games, Rhiannon's Realm is a Celtic take on the classic mahjong solitaire game. Tackle more than 65 challenging levels of stunning Celtic-themed artwork, to save the seasons of the year from an evil spell. Take your pick of 13 beautiful images to use as desktop wallpaper.

In its favour, it's quite pretty, and available for Mac OS X 10.2 or higher as well as various Windows.

Fascists call opponent fascist

United Kingdom: The Bishop of Manchester has expressed his opinion that the racist British National Party is incompatible with Christianity.

In a statement, he said Christians should not vote for those who would deny the... equal rights of others...
Rt Revd McCulloch said: Needless to say, we further urge all followers of Christ to use their vote wisely, and not to vote for any political party or candidate promoting division, exclusion and blame, or in any other way seeking to stir up racial and ethnic hatred...
We do not presume to advise which party or parties Christians should vote for.
However, we do affirm our conviction that genuine Christian discipleship is incompatible with actual support for racist and fascist parties, such as the BNP or the National Front.

In response, and apparently without irony, a BNP representative called the Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch fascistic. Christians urged not to vote BNP - BBC News, 3rd June 2004.

June 3, 2004

Bush seeks loss of tax breaks for churches

United States: George W. Bush's election campaign might lead to some churches losing their tax exempt status because of the way it is trying to recruit support among churchgoers. E-mail sent by the campaign invites members of congregations to to serve as a coordinator in your place of worship, a task which involves distributing general information/updates or voter registration materials in a place accessible to the congregation.

The Internal Revenue Service prohibits political campaign activity, for or against any candidate, from taking place at all organizations that receive tax exempt status under a section of the federal tax code -- including most churches and religious groups. Violators could lose their tax breaks and face excise taxes.

Those who keep an eye on church/state issues are not impressed.

The director of a nonpartisan watchdog group called the campaign's church appeal a breathtakingly sad example of mixing religion and politics.
I have never in my life seen such a direct campaign to politicize American churches -- from any political party or from any candidate for public office, said Rev. Barry W. Lynn of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State. By enrolling churches in an election scheme like this, I think the Bush-Cheney campaign is actually endangering those churches' tax exemptions without even the courtesy of telling them that they run a risk.

Bush Push May Cost Churches Tax Breaks - AP (via Yahoo! News), 2nd June 2004.

Beware the horse in a bad mood

United States: A conference of health workers is examining a very interesting problem. It seems that there are health and safely issues unique to the Amish, and similar groups.

The conference topics ranged from the best way to mark and light a horse-drawn buggy to food sanitation, screening for hereditary diseases and manure management. The centerpiece was the release of a federally funded study of 1,200 injuries in 2002 to Old Order Amish and Mennonites -- who refer to themselves as Plain people.
Like other aspects of Amish life, many of the things that can hurt them are, to most Americans, unfamiliar remnants of an agrarian past -- kicking horses, tubs of boiling water and buggy crashes.

Conference focuses on Amish health problems - Centre Daily Times, 3rd June 2004.

Marriage—so good we're not letting you have it

United States: Fundie group the Focus on the Family want to hear your views on how wonderful marriage is, so they can publish a book calling for it to be denied to pooves.

E-mail us your anecdotes, stories and observations about the value of marriage to you -- and to society. How has being married made you a better man or woman? How has seeing the marriage of a friend or relative helped teach you valuable lessons about life? How did the unique contributions of each of your parents shape who you are today?

Those are the kinds of thoughts we'd like you to share in a message of no more than 400 words. Send it to citizenlink@family.org with the subject line Why Marriage Matters -- and be sure to include your name, address and phone number, in case we need to contact you.


I have only been married for eleven months, and we only bothered because of the legal and tax benefits. I admit I'm surprised how good it's been—our relationship is exactly the same as it was beforehand and we didn't start arguing like my married parents did throughout my childhood. So wonderful is it, that I would be more than happy to let my friends who happen to have same-sex partners share the joy (and especially the tax breaks).

I don't think that what they want, somehow (via Ex-Gay Watch).

Disrespecting the dead for Jesus

United States: Marcella Barrett's story is a tragic one, to begin with - Her first husband died too soon. The second one, Doyle, left her for another woman. One son, Alden, committed suicide. Another one, Scott, disowned her and left her cherished religion. Surely there's no need to embellish that with lies, is there? Unfortunately, Dr. Beatrice Sparks thought so, and creatively edited Alden's diary, which she published as Jay's Journal: The shocking diary of a 16-year-old helplessly drawn into a world of witchcraft and evil ….

...the book changed Alden from a sensitive, questioning young man with a high school girlfriend and sympathies toward Eastern religion to a curious teenager who unwittingly finds himself participating in vile satanic rituals, crazed sex with a girlfriend named Tina and outrageous acts of supernatural black magic. The book remains true to Alden's fate, however. By book's end, Jay kills himself.

Astroturf alive and well

United Kingdom: Church groups have been spotted trying to orchestrate a campaign against a Channel Four programme because their members were stupid enough to complain about a show which had not been broadcast yet.

In the offending programme, sceptic Derren Brown debunked séances - something you'd think barking mad fundies would approve of.

He assembled 12 students in a London house and told them that another 12 students had died there years earlier in a suicide pact.
They were shown photographs of each of the 12 dead and asked to choose one which they felt drawn to. Almost all chose a girl called Jane.
Using a Ouija board and other spiritualist paraphernalia, the volunteers attempted to contact Jane and were spooked when the board spelled out a message from her.
They believed they were communicating with her spirit -- but at the end of the programme Brown revealed the suicide story was a hoax and Jane was alive and well.

Hundreds complain over TV 'séance' show - Ireland Online, 3rd June 2004.

June 2, 2004

Bargain of the Day: Light-up torture scene

No dungeon could possibly be complete without this charming Crystal with Cross embedded inside with Lights:

Crystal Cube comes with small platform. Platform shines flashing lights through crystal making the Jesus on the Cross embedded in the crystal cube come to life. Makes a very great gift. Bidding starts at one penny.

Waiter, There's A Crustacean In My Water

United States: A sect of loony fundies in New York, obviously of the belief that there's nothing more important to worry about in the world, have their knickers in a twist over crusteceans in their drinking water.

Orthodox Jews in New York have become concerned that the city's drinking water may not be kosher because it contains tiny crustaceans known as copepods.
The organisms, which measure about a millimeter long, pose no threat to human health, according to the city Department of Environmental Protection. But Orthodox teaching bars the eating of crustaceans — aquatic animals with skeletons outside their bodies, including shrimp, crab and lobsters.
The organisms first came to the attention of Jewish leaders in Brooklyn two weeks ago, The New York Times reported Tuesday. An Israeli produce company that exports kosher vegetables to New York alleged that its products had become infested with insects after being washed in the city's water.

If you're a company involved in water filters or bottled water it looks like scaring the insane is a great way to boost business.

Orthodox Jews Worry Water Isn't Kosher - AP, 1st June 2004.

June 1, 2004

Silly British games.

England: 21 people have been injured, five seriously, during an annual cheese-rolling contest in Gloucestershire.

Some 20 men and women, including a streaker, pursued a 7lb Double Gloucester cheese in each of four races at Cooper's Hill near Brockworth.
Competitors came from all over the world and included one of Belgium's leading footballers, Leo Van der Elst.

The race is believed to date back about 2000 years. Cheese-rolling gets back on track - BBC News, 1st June 2004 (thanks to blame Mike Holmes).

A discussion over dinner

Ghana: Two 'witches' have appeared in court on charges of assault, after they had a disagreement over a human body they were eating.

Prosecuting, Police Inspector K. Kpoafa told the court presided over by Mr Jacob Boon that in March 2004, a former policeman accompanied [Adwoa] Fosuaa and reported that Vida [Tiwaah] claimed she is a witch and that Fosuaa is also a witch and that they had moved together spiritually to practice their witchcraft.
He said the police was told that Fosuaa is alleged to have killed her sister through witchcraft and shared the meat with Vida, adding Vida claimed that she had repented and no longer practices witchcraft and therefore, wanted to return the meat to Fosuaa.
Inspector Kpoafa said because the ex-policeman wanted to make a formal complaint against Vida for disgracing Fosuaa who was his niece, however, he was told that police could not investigate such a spiritual case. Fosuaa and Oti Awere were advised to institute civil suit against Vida, but they did not heed to the advice, but rather resorted to casting insinuations as well as insults against Vida, which generated into a family feud with Vida on one side against Fosuaa and Awere on the other. Inspector Kpoafa said on April 29, Vida met Fosuaa and told her that since she had refused to come for the meat, they had to resort to physical means to resolve the issue.

The two allegedly began fighting at this point. Two witches clash over human flesh. - GhanaWeb, 31st May 2004.

Pope Pimps Gibson's Vanity Pic Again

Vatican: As if pimping the film first time around wasn't bad enough, the boys in the frocks and silly hats have set the wheels in motion to offer up a sainthood to the mad old broad who wrote the book that inspired Gibson to inflict his drivel on the world.

The 19th century German nun whose blood-soaked visions of Jesus's death inspired Mel Gibson's film The Passion of The Christ will soon be put on the path to sainthood, Catholic Church officials have said.
Anne Catherine Emmerich, a sickly mystic who lived from 1774 to 1824, has already reached near cult status among traditionalist Roman Catholics for the book that gave Gibson the grisly details the Gospels did not provide.

Anglican Archbishop Won't Resign

Australia: The Anglican Church in Adelaide has had the wind put up its skirts after an independent inquiry into its habit of not only turning a blind eye to kiddie fondling priests, but actively protecting them from prosecution, was released. The head sherrang has made a weak apology, but refuses to resign.

An independent inquiry into the Anglican church's handling of child sex abuse allegations in South Australia has found the church was uncaring towards victims.

The inquiry was conducted by retired Supreme Court justice Trevor Olsson and social work lecturer Donna Chung, after claims that a former youth worker abused up to 200 boys.

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