Thursday, September 21, 2017

10 years ago: Good riddance to Rex Humbard

On September 21, 2007, Rex Humbard died of congestive heart failure at the age of 88. Mr. Humbard, born in Little Rock, Arkansas, but based in Akron, Ohio, made his first appearance on television in 1949, and became the first televangelist in the United States to have a weekly program, which ran from 1953-1982. His $4-million, 5,400-seat Cathedral of Tomorrow in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, which opened in 1958, was built to accommodate television.

Mr. Humbard's program was internationally broadcast and his ministry became a big business (helped in part by loans from Teamsters union President Jimmy Hoffa--see the article mentioned below), but in 1973 Mr. Humbard ran into problems with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission because bonds and promissory notes that he had sold since 1959 were sold by his own salesmen, and were not registered with the SEC or sold through licensed brokers. A planned revolving restaurant was never built, and a transmission tower was eventually sold to a local businessman.

Mr. Humbug Humbard, like so many televangelists, preached a prosperity gospel of "seed-faith," i.e., if you sow a financial seed with his ministry, God will give you a return on your investment of as much as tenfold or a hundredfold. It's a false gospel that enriched the likes of Rex Humbard and Oral Roberts, but never enriched their donors, as far as I know. I have to agree with Christian apologists John Ankerberg and John Weldon--why don't these prosperity preachers practice what they preach and give some of their money away? If what they preach is true, they'll receive so much back in return that they'll never again have to ask anyone for money.

Mr. Humbard eventually retired to Florida, and his son Rex, Jr. took over the ministry. What remained of the Cathedral of Tomorrow was sold to notorious fraud and fellow Akronite Ernest Angley in 1994.

For an excellent examination of Rex Humbard, his history and scandals, click on the link for the article Jesus for Sale by Denise Grollmus in Cleveland Scene, October 31, 2007.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Hazing incident at "evangelical" Wheaton College results in felony charges

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. II Timothy 3:5

The following news item comes as no surprise to this blogger; see my post Wheaton College alumni create support group for sodomites and lesbians (July 18, 2011) for an example of evangelical colleges claiming to take a biblical stand while acting quite differently. As I said,

Wheaton College still has a reputation as "evangelical," but, like evangelicalism generally, has been going in a liberal direction for many years (see my post Today's Evangelicals, Tomorrow's Liberals--A Warning from 1983 (January 13, 2010). When many people think of Wheaton College, they think of illustrious alumni such as Billy Graham and Elisabeth Elliot--who attended decades ago--and assume that Wheaton is still as it was then; the evangelical reputation endures, long after the reality has changed.
As reported by Christy Gutowski and Stacy St. Clair of the Chicago Tribune, September 19, 2017 (link in original):

Five Wheaton College football players face felony charges after being accused of a 2016 hazing incident in which a freshman teammate was restrained with duct tape, beaten and left half-naked with two torn shoulders on a baseball field.

A DuPage County judge signed arrest warrants and set $50,000 bonds against the players — James Cooksey, Kyler Kregel, Benjamin Pettway, Noah Spielman and Samuel TeBos — late Monday afternoon. Prosecutors charged the athletes with aggravated battery, mob action and unlawful restraint.

They are expected to turn themselves in to authorities this week.

Three of the accused played in Wheaton College's victory over Carthage College Saturday, and all were listed on the team roster as of Monday afternoon. The Division III program is ranked fourth in the country.

The victim, who the Tribune is not naming, left the conservative Christian school shortly after the incident and now attends college in Indiana.

"This has had a devastating effect on my life," he said in a statement to the Tribune.

"What was done to me should never occur in connection with a football program or any other activity. ... I am confident that the criminal prosecution will provide a fair and just punishment to the men who attacked me."

The college released a statement late Monday saying it was "deeply troubled" by the allegations because it strives to provide an educational environment free from hazing and reflective of the school's religious values. The school said it hired a third party to investigate the allegation last year and took "corrective actions," but officials declined to provide details on any punishment, citing federal privacy laws.

Sources told the Tribune that several players were required to perform 50 hours of community service and write an eight-page essay reflecting on their behavior.

"The conduct we discovered as a result of our investigation into this incident was entirely unacceptable and inconsistent with the values we share as human beings and as members of an academic community that espouses to live according to our Community Covenant," campus spokeswoman LaTonya Taylor said in a statement. "We are profoundly saddened that any member of our community could be mistreated in any way."

The Wheaton Police Department earlier this year refused to release reports related to the incident under the state's Freedom of Information Act, citing a pending investigation. DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin also declined to comment Monday through his spokesman.

The Tribune, however, was able to obtain records detailing the victim's statements to investigators.

The student told investigators that he was watching the NCAA basketball tournament in a dorm room on March 19, 2016, when several teammates entered the room and tackled him, according to the documents. The freshman kicked his legs and yelled at them to stop, only to be punched and have his bare legs and wrists wrapped in duct tape, the victim said.

The players put a pillow case over the 19-year-old freshman's head and took him from the residence hall. Though there was a "root beer kegger" taking place in the dorm that night, no students or college employees intervened as the freshman was carried out of the building, according to the records.

The freshman told investigators that he was placed in the back seat of a teammate's vehicle and held down by at least two players while others piled into the vehicle. After the vehicle began moving, the players played Middle Eastern music and made offensive comments about Muslims, according to the victim's account.

At one point, the players suggested to the freshman that he had been kidnapped by Muslims who wanted to fornicate with goats, the teen told investigators. They patted his foot and suggested he would be their "goat" for the evening, the records said.

The freshman told investigators that his teammates restrained him with more duct tape during the drive, pulled down his shorts and underwear, then repeatedly tried to insert an object into his rectum. After the freshman yelled at them to stop, he was beaten, he said.

The players drove to a park located off campus and carried the freshman onto a baseball diamond, according to his account. The players threw dirt on the teen, took his cell phone and left him half-naked on the field, he said.

The freshman, who had just transferred to the college, did not know where he was or how to get back to campus. The temperature that night was about 45 degrees, according to National Weather Service records.

About 10 minutes later, a second player was dumped on the field, he told investigators. The two were eventually driven back to campus by classmates who came looking for the second player.

The freshman returned to his dorm room, called his mother and then drove himself to the hospital. He suffered muscle tears in both shoulders, in addition to various bruises and scratches, the records said.

After he became overcome by emotion in the emergency room, a nurse called police and collected evidence, according to the records. His grandparents later came to the hospital and took him back to their home to spend the night.

The next day, his father drove to Wheaton College and moved the teen out of the dorm. He withdrew from the school a short time later.

The former Wheaton student said his injuries required two surgeries since leaving the west suburban campus, according to investigative records.

"We have all seen situations where young men have engaged in foolish and immature behavior," his attorney Terry Ekl said. "What was done to our client goes far beyond what is acceptable behavior or which can be dismissed as merely harmless hazing. We are hopeful Wheaton College will learn from this incident, and subsequent criminal investigation and charges, and may not in the future condone this type of conduct."

College administrators learned about the incident shortly after it happened from coaches and other team members, according to the school's statement. It immediately launched an internal investigation and college trustees retained experts to lead a campuswide review of its "anti-hazing policy and of the culture around how students treat one another in our campus communities, athletic teams and organizations."

"Wheaton remains committed to providing Christ-centered development programs and training to all our students," Taylor said.

Each year, Wheaton athletes must sign an anti-hazing policy that prohibits them from humiliating, degrading, abusing and endangering another person when they join a campus team or organization. Both teams and individuals can be punished for taking part in hazing rituals, according to the policy, which has been in place since 2014.

The players' status with the team remains unclear following the felony charges.

Kregel, Pettway and Spielman played in Saturday's game. Kregel, a 21-year-old center from Grand Rapids, Mich., was a second-team All-American center for the Thunder in 2016.

Pettway is a 21-year-old offensive lineman from Lookout Mountain, Ga. Cooksey, 22, is a defensive lineman from Jacksonville, Fla., while TeBos, 22, is a linebacker from Allendale, Mich.

Spielman is 21-year-old defensive lineman from Columbus, Ohio. He is the son of former NFL All-Pro linebacker Chris Spielman, who currently works as a football analyst for Fox Sports.

Messages left with the players or their families were not immediately returned.

The criminal charges add another troubling incident for Wheaton College's football team, which consistently is ranked among the top Division III programs in the country under longtime head coach Mike Swider.

The team made national headlines nearly three years ago after players dressed up in Ku Klux Klan robes as part of so-called team-building activity in a campus gym. A group of 20 players, some of whom were black, parodied several movies, including "Bad Boys II," a 2003 Martin Lawrence and Will Smith comedy that pokes fun at the KKK. During the skit, the group wore Klan-style white hoods and robes and carried Confederate flags.

Players involved with the skit said it was intended to be satirical, but acknowledged it was inappropriate. They apologized to the campus community and asked for forgiveness.
As reported by Kirkland An and Sarah Pulliam Bailey of The Washington Post, September 19, 2017:

...Calls to Cooksey and Kregel were not answered. Pettway did not respond to a voice mail request for comment. Attempts to reach Spielman and TeBos were unsuccessful. Calls to Mike Swider, the head coach of the football team, were not answered.

“Campus is pretty shell-shocked,” Luke Goodman, a senior who knows one of the players, told The Post.

The reports of anti-Muslim behavior during the course of the incident came within months of college leaders clashing with a professor over Muslim-Christian relations. Former political science professor Larycia Hawkins, who wore a hijab in support of Muslims, wrote on Facebook that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Her comment went viral and outraged conservative alumni, and she eventually left the college and became a visiting fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia.

Just months later, according to the documents obtained by the Tribune, the assault of the student took place.

“Oh my gosh,” Hawkins said, as she considered the timeline of events.

“The ignorance of well-educated students,” she said while taking a deep breath, “it’s so reprehensible.”

Christian Simpson, a black student who played one season of football, left the team this year partially because of negative comments the football players made about “affirmative action and race relations.” He said that while the extent of the physical aggression he witnessed was “locker room talk,” he wasn’t surprised that this allegedly happened.

“I guess it’s that macho-ness on men’s sports team,” Simpson, who is a senior, told The Post. “You wanna make someone else look worse than you at some time, so you can make yourself look better.”...

...Another Christian institution, Baylor University, was involved in a high-profile scandal that emerged in 2016 after 19 football players were accused of violence against women, including four instances of gang rape. Baylor’s athletic director at the time, Ian McCaw, was hired at Liberty University in late 2016.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

70 years ago: Anglican layman advises the church to take a course in publicity

"The Press, Watson, is a most valuable institution, if you only know how to use it." Sherlock Holmes to Dr. Watson in The Adventure of the Six Napoleons by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

As the following item indicates, the methods advocated by the Church Growth Movement predated Donald McGavran, Peter Drucker, Bill Hybels, and Rick Warren. As reported by Monroe Johnston of Toronto Daily Star, September 13, 1947, p. 17:

Saskatoon, Sask., Sept. 13--Taking the executive council of the Anglican general synod to task for excluding the press from a number of the deliberations held here, P.J. Burd, synodical delegate since 1893 and Vancouver publisher said: "Newspapermen are just as honest as any other body of people. Trust them and they will trust you. If they want to do it, real newspapermen can get a story 95 per cent of the time. If they couldn't, I wouldn't have them on my paper."

Suggesting a course in publicity be given to every candidate for holy orders, Mr. Burd declared: "Bishops and priests don't know what to hand out to the public that has news value. They should be educated to publicity. It is very advisable to sell the church."

Mr. Burd's view of the trustworthiness of the press is laughable to 21st-century readers, and probably wasn't true in 1947--or in the time of Sherlock Holmes. And of course, an education in publicity isn't among the requirements for leaders in the church of Jesus Christ mentioned in I Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bones alleged to be those of Peter found in 1,000-year-old church in Rome

As if there aren't already enough relics associated with Peter, there are now more, which will no doubt encourage more commerce from tourists making pilgrimages--not that I'm suspicious, of course.

As reported by Nick Squires of the London Daily Telegraph, September 11, 2017 (links in original):

Bones attributed to St Peter have been found by chance in a church in Rome during routine restoration work, 2,000 years after the apostle’s death.

The relics of the saint, who is regarded as the first Pope, were found in clay pots in the 1,000-year-old Church of Santa Maria in Cappella in the district of Trastevere, a medieval warren of cobbled lanes on the banks of the Tiber River.

The bones were discovered when a worker lifted up a large marble slab near the medieval altar of the church, which has been closed to the public for 35 years because of structural problems.

He came across two Roman-era pots with inscriptions on their lids indicating that inside were not only bone fragments from St Peter but also three early popes – Cornelius, Callixtus and Felix – as well as four early Christian martyrs.

The workman immediately notified the deacon of the church, Massimiliano Floridi. “There were two clay pots which were inscribed with the names of early popes – Peter, Felix, Callixtus and Cornelius. I’m not an archaeologist but I understood immediately that they were very old,” he told Rai Uno, an Italian television channel. “Looking at them, I felt very emotional.”

It had been known for centuries that the relics might exist – they are recorded on a stone inscription in the church, which claimed they were kept alongside a fragment of a dress worn by the Blessed Virgin. But until now, the relics had never been found.

The remains have been handed to the Vatican for further study. Without proper analysis, it is impossible to say whether they belong to St Peter. “We’re waiting for a detailed study to be undertaken,” said the deacon. “A DNA comparison between these bones and those kept by the Vatican would shed light on the issue.”

A Vatican spokesman said it was too early to comment on the discovery.

It is not yet known how or why the relics came to be interred in the Church of Santa Maria in Cappella, which was consecrated in 1090.

One theory is that they were transferred there from the Vatican by Pope Urban II at a time of schism within the Catholic Church.

While Urban was generally recognised as the legitimate pope, he faced a challenge from an anti-pope, Clement III, who had set up a rival power base in Rome, backed by the Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV. The church in Trastevere was closely linked to Pope Urban and may have been seen by him as a secure place in which to hide the bones.

Conventional wisdom has it that St Peter was crucified, upside down, in Rome in the first century AD.

His remains were interred in a tomb on the Vatican Hill, where the Emperor Constantine later built a church, which in the 16th century was replaced by the current imposing basilica.

During excavations under St Peter’s Basilica that began after the Second World War, archaeologists discovered a funerary monument with a casket built in honour of Peter and an engraving in Greek that read "Petros eni", or "Peter is here".

The remains were forensically examined in the 1960s, with experts concluding that they belonged to a man in his early sixties who lived in the first century AD. That was proof enough for Pope Paul VI, in 1968, to declare them the bones of St Peter.

During a Mass in 2013, Pope Francis publicly unveiled the bone fragments, reviving the debate over whether they really belong to the first pope. It was the first time the nine pieces of bone, encased in a box inside a bronze display case, had ever been exhibited in public.

Federico Lombardi, the then Vatican spokesman, said there was a “serious possibility” that the bones were from St Peter, “but we don't go beyond that".

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Even with sound teachers, you still have to be a Berean

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
Acts 17:10-11

70 years ago today, on September 7, 1947, Pastor Perry F. Rockwood made his first broadcast of The Peoples Gospel Hour on CKCL in Truro, Nova Scotia. Pastor Rockwood went to be with the Lord in March 9, 2008, a few days before his 91st birthday, but the Halifax-based ministry and internationally-broadcast radio programs continue today.

I've long appreciated the ministry of The Peoples Gospel Hour--especially in my early years as a Christian--and I once had the pleasure, while on a visit to Halifax , of attending Missionary Bible Church and meeting Pastor Rockwood. Pastor Rockwood not only produced radio programs, but was a prolific writer of Bible study booklets, which are available from the ministry.

I recently reread one of those booklets that I originally read years ago, and I noticed a couple of things that show that even with a sound teacher such as Perry F. Rockwood, the reader still needs to be a Berean. The booklet in question is The Preacher Who Ran from God, an examination of the book of Jonah, and a booklet that contains a couple of passages that are biblically wrong and/or lacking in scriptural warrant, even though the point being made may be good (bold in original).

Jonah's message was like a thunderbolt from heaven. Let us read [chapter 3], verse 5, "So all the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them."

There was never a sermon preached with such results--over half a million people brought to their knees through the preaching of one sermon."
(pp. 10-11)

The figure of "over half a million" is just plain wrong. The last verse of Jonah says:

And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle? Jonah 4:11

Over 120,000--and I think it may reasonably be inferred that it wasn't too much over 120,000, or a greater figure would have been mentioned--was a good size for those days, but considerably less than over 500,000. Why not just stick to what the text says?

A more dramatic example of a statement for which there is no scriptural warrant--although a good point is being made--is found on page 16:

The second truth about God's love is this, God loves the sinner and has made provision for every sinner. God loves you and He loves me. His love was so great that He sent His only Son into the world to die in every sinner's place.

Remember Barabbas. He had been waiting in his cell for many months, waiting to die on the cross. Then one day Pilate said unto the people, "Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?" (Matthew 27:17)

"They said, Barabbas" (verse 21)

The guard quickly hastened to tell Barabbas the good news. Barabbas was sure this was his last day to live. The guard cried to him, "Barabbas, you're free, You don't have to die. Another has died in your place." Barabbas did not understand but he hurried from the prison to Golgotha's hill. There the guard pointed to the One on the centre cross. "He's the one who died in your stead."

Beloved, in exactly the same way, Christ died in your stead. You must believe God and receive the pardon...

Where does Pastor Rockwood get that from? The complete text of Matthew 27:21-26 reads:

The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.
Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.
And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
Then released he Barabbas unto them: and when he had scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

This passage, taken together with Mark 15:6-15, Luke 23:18-25, and John 18:38-19:1 indicate that Pontius Pilate released Barabbas to the crowd before Jesus was flogged and taken to be crucified.

And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified. Mark 15:15

And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will. Luke 23:25

But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews?
Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.
Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.
John 18:39-19:1

The gospels make no mention of a guard informing Barabbas that he had been freed, nor do the gospels state that the Lord Jesus Christ had already been crucified and was dead before Barabbas was freed. We don't read anything in the Bible of Barabbas after his release; certainly no one could have acknowledged that Christ had died in his place the way Barabbas could have, and for all we know, Barabbas might have been among the crowd leading the cheers for His death.

I don't believe that any of us have the right to take liberties with the Bible, even to make a Biblically correct point. Let us be Bereans, and stick to what the scripture actually says.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Roman Catholic priest from New Jersey claimed he was collecting child pornography in order to get "revenge" on God

Yet another sordid scandal involving a Roman Catholic priest; the reader will notice the duplicity on the part of the Archdiocese of Newark in their rationale for reinstating a man who clearly was unfit for the priesthood. As reported by Associated Press, August 25, 2017:

HONESDALE, Pa. (AP) — A New Jersey priest says he was trying to get revenge on God for poker losses when he collected computerized child pornography at his weekend home in Pennsylvania, according to his attorney and court records.

The Rev. Kevin Gugliotta was sentenced Thursday to 11½ to 23½ months in the Wayne County jail, receiving credit for 10 months he’s already served. He pleaded guilty in March to a single count of disseminating child pornography after prosecutors dropped dozens of other charges that he possessed and distributed child porn.

Pretrial records show the 55-year-old Gugliotta told probation officers he felt God was attacking him when he lost poker tournaments and games, and got “revenge” by collecting the porn.

“That was his reason,” defense attorney James Swetz said. “He’s not happy that’s how he felt, as the judge indicated. There are other ways to handle issues and handle anger.”

Jim Goodness, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Newark, said Gugliotta has been removed from public ministry since church officials learned of the investigation in September.

Additional discipline, including possible removal from the priesthood, is possible “now that the process in the courts have been completed,” Goodness said. “We’ve also kept Rome abreast of the situation.”

The Monroe County, Pennsylvania district attorney’s office last August was investigating child pornography and determined some had been uploaded to a computer at Gugliotta’s weekend home in Gouldsboro. The tiny Pennsylvania hamlet is about 90 miles west of Holy Spirit Church, where he served as parochial vicar in Union, New Jersey.

Monroe County authorities alerted those in Wayne County, who tried to search the Gouldsboro home in September. But authorities couldn’t find Gugliotta at home and couldn’t lure him there using a ruse so they could search the computer before he had a chance to destroy the evidence.

Wayne County authorities wound up tracking down the priest at the New Jersey church where they interviewed him and found his laptop computer in the church rectory.

Gugliotta had previously been suspended from ministry in 2003 for allegedly molesting a teenage boy in the 1980s. But because the incident occurred when he was still a layman and before he entered the priesthood, the Archdiocese of Newark ruled he could not be punished and quietly reinstated him in 2004.

He went on to have a long career in the priesthood, including ministering to youth groups.
And as reported by Joseph Kohut of the Scranton Times-Tribune, August 25, 2017:

A Roman Catholic priest from New Jersey caught up in a Wayne County child pornography probe will spend 11½ to 23½ months in jail.

The Rev. Kevin A. Gugliotta, 55, of Mahwah, was sentenced Thursday by President Judge Raymond L. Hamill.

The sentence includes the more than 300 days Gugliotta already has spent in jail, so he could be eligible for parole in about 1½ months, his attorney, James Swetz, said.

Gugliotta pleaded guilty in March to one count of dissemination of child pornography. In October, Wayne County detectives filed more than 40 felony counts of possessing and disseminating child pornography against him for uploading files from a Lehigh Twp. apartment he referred to as his “day-off place,” investigators said.

The Archdiocese of Newark removed Gugliotta from ministry and ordered he vacate his assignment at the Holy Spirit Church in Union, New Jersey, upon learning of the allegations against him. He remains out of ministry, and the Vatican was notified of the court developments to date, Jim Goodness, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said. Gugliotta had been a priest in that archdiocese since his ordination in 1996.

Between July 9 and Aug. 29, 2016, Gugliotta uploaded 20 files depicting children engaged in sexual activity to internet chat rooms. Detectives tracked the activity back to Gugliotta.

Swetz said he was pleased with the sentence, which includes five years of probation after Gugliotta’s time in jail.

Gugliotta also must register as a sex offender for the next 25 years.

“This priest’s actions support the victimization of children and must be severely punished,” Wayne County District Attorney Janine Edwards said in a statement. “With no one to watch child porn, our children would not be subject to the horrors of exploitation. I am very pleased he was caught.”

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Idiot dies after rushing into fire at climax of Burning Man festival

New Age paganism claims another casualty; it wasn't reported whether the deceased's last words were, "I'm just a hunk o' hunk o' burning man." As reported by Associated Press, September 4, 2017 (links in original):

A man rushed past layers of security officers into a massive fire at the Burning Man festival’s signature ceremony, suffering burns that left him dead just hours later.

Authorities are investigating the death of Aaron Joel Mitchell, 41, who broke through a two-layer security perimeter during the Man Burn event in which a giant, wooden effigy is set ablaze.

Nevada’s Pershing County Sheriff Jerry Allen estimated that there was a crowd of about 50,000 people who were present when the festival’s crew of firefighters pulled Mitchell out of the blaze. He was airlifted to the UC Davis hospital burn centre in California, where he died on Sunday morning.

The sheriff said doctors confirmed Mitchell wasn’t under the influence of alcohol, but a toxicology report is pending.

"We don’t know if it was intentional on his part or if it was just kind of induced by drugs. We’re not sure of that yet," Allen said.

Burning Man said in a statement that they had cancelled burns through noon Sunday but would go ahead with the 8pm temple burn, another signature event that signals the end of the nine-day festival. More than 70,000 people are attending the art and music celebration in the Black Rock Desert, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) north of Reno.

Organisers are also offering emotional support counseling on site, saying in a statement: "Now is a time for closeness, contact and community. Trauma needs processing. Promote calls, hugs, self-care, check-ins, and sleep."

The festival culminates with the burning of a towering 40-foot effigy made of wood, a symbol of rebirth, which usually happens the Saturday before the Labor Day holiday. It’s followed by the burning of a temple on Sunday before the festivities wrap up on Monday.

Attendees have tried before to run into the flames while the man is burning and there have been reported injuries from people trying to get a piece of the spectacle as a token and going through the hot coals.

Allen said it’s a problem that the organisers have tried to contain by having their own rangers stage a human-chain to prevent people from getting to the fire. Allen said that this is the first time someone has got through like this and the only fatality that he’s aware of in his 15 years with the county.
"People try to run into the fire as part of their spiritual portion of Burning Man," Allen said. "The significance of the man burning, it’s just kind of a rebirth, they burn the man to the ground, a new chapter has started. It’s part of their tenants of radical self-expression."

Known for eclectic artwork, offbeat theme camps, concerts and other entertainment, Burning Man began in San Francisco before moving to Nevada in 1990. Over the years as the event grew in popularity, deaths and crime have been reported, ranging from car crashes to drug use.

In 2014, a man in Utah died by jumping into a huge ceremonial bonfire in an event that was similar to Burning Man. It was investigated as a suicide.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

50 years ago, even the mainstream media in Canada opposed the legalization of sodomy

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Romans 1:24-32

If you want to see evidence of the difference between Canada (the country that existed before Pierre Trudeau took office as Prime Minister on April 20, 1968) and Trudeaupia (the country that has existed since that date), the following is a good example. It may surprise 21st Century readers that as late as 1967, newspaper editorials often reflected the views of society at large. You'll never again see an editorial like this one that appeared in The Edmonton Journal, July 13, 1967--and that's a shame:

Keep the law

The legislation legalizing homosexual relations between consenting male adults in Britain in s barely a week old and already there are indications of pressure for similar legislation in Canada.

This pressure should be resisted.

At the time homosexual relations with consent are illegal in Canada under sections 147 and 149 of the Criminal Code. Violation of these sections can mean imprisonment for up to five or fourteen years, depending on the section under which the conviction is obtained.

In the first place, it is difficult to imagine how these sections of the code could be amended to allow for homosexual relations between consenting adults without such amendment being interpreted as tacit approval of these relations. This interpretation being taken, we fear it would not be too long before the public was confronted with an upswing in the existing tendency of those homosexually inclined to prey on the young.

We'll be asked: if homosexual relations with an obliging young man of 22 are all right, why is it wrong to have such relations with a young man of 19?

Homosexual relations, whether between consenting adult males or not, are abnormal and repugnant to the vast majority of Canadians. They are not acceptable to Canadians in fact. They should not be made acceptable in law.
Sodomy and abortion were legalized by the Liberal government of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1969. His mentally and morally retarded pothead son Justin, who isn't qualified to run anything, and whom nobody outside his family would ever have heard of if his name weren't Trudeau, now occupies the Prime Minister's office, and never met a sodomy pride parade that he didn't want to march in. Sodomite and lesbian marriage wasn't even a Liberal Party value as recently as the 1997 federal election; now, as of 2016, it's officially a Conservative Party value--providing yet more evidence that "conservatives" merely conserve what liberals have done.

50 years ago: The fight over abortion rights heats up in various American states

Before the U.S. Supreme Court overstepped its legitimate authority in Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973 and overturned all laws outlawing abortion in the United States, the battle over abortion rights was being fought state-by-state, with wins and losses by both sides, as reported by Associated Press article, as it appeared in The Edmonton Journal, August 21, 1967:

Chicago (AP)--Forces fighting for the liberalization of U.S. abortion laws scored their greatest gains this year--and suffered some resounding defeats.

The Colorado, North Carolina and California legislatures passed laws broadening the circumstances under which doctors can legally perform abortions.

The Indiana Legislature passed an abortion law, but Governor Roger Branigan vetoed it. "It offends the moral principles of a large proportion of our citizens" he said.

In a related development, the American Medical Association changed a policy that has stood since 1871 and adopted a liberal stand on abortion.

But moves to change laws on abortion were killed or put off by legislatures in Connecticut, Nevada, Michigan, Iowa, Maryland, New Mexico, New York and Tennessee.

Colorado became the first state to adopt in full recommendations made in 1959 by the American Law Institute in a model penal code on abortion. North Carolina followed suit a few weeks later.

An overwhelming majority of the states permit abortions only when a woman's life is endangered by pregnancy.

The institute, which is made up of lawyers working with doctors, recommended that therapeutic or legal abortions also should be permitted if:

. Continuance of pregnancy would gravely impair the physical or mental health of the mother.

. There was significant risk that the child would be born with a physical or mental defect.

. Pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

The American Medical Association went along with all these conditions in its new policy, but the California law omits the provision dealing with possible deformed births.

The AMA's 1871 policy statement deemed it unethical for a physician to induce abortion "without the concurrent opinion of at least one othe physician and then always with a view to the safety of the child--if that be possible." The AMA committee recommending the changes called this antiquated and inadequate.

The Roman Catholic Church is the leading opponent of liberalizing abortion laws. The church regards abortion as murder.

In Nevada, however, the legislature rejected a liberalization bill after two Mormon Senators joined Roman Catholic spokesmen in opposing the measure.

But Unitarian and Congregational clergymen endorsed a liberalization bill which died in a legislative committee in Iowa; the American Lutheran church and the American Baptist Convention supported a liberalization bill in the Ohio legislature.

An abortion liberalization bill was killed in committee in New York after considerable controversy and opposition from Roman Catholics.

Proponents of liberalized abortion, including the Planned Parenthood World Population organization, predict new attempts would be made in states where liberalization proposals have been defeated and in other states where changes have not been proposed.
The reader will note which religious organizations were supporting abortion. The American Baptist Convention--formerly the Northern Baptist Convention--is the denomination that produced such scoundrels as Ron Sider and Tony Campolo. The perceptive reader will also notice that the change in the American Medical Association's policy wasn't the result of advances in medical knowledge, but was the result of political pressure. The situation in New York changed in 1970 when Governor Nelson Rockefeller (Republican), a notorious womanizer, signed the nation's most liberal abortion law.

Guru of Hindu sect in India is sentenced to 20 years in prison for raping two followers

As I stated in the post below, scandalous and even criminal behaviour in religious circles isn't only to be found among "Christian" televangelists or Roman Catholic clergy. As reported by Hardik Anand and Surender Sharma of the New Delhi Hindustan Times, August 29, 2017 (link in original):

A CBI court on Monday sentenced self-styled godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh to 20 years in jail and fined him Rs 30 lakh for raping two disciples, saying he acted like a “wild beast” and didn’t even spare his “pious” followers.

CBI court judge Jagdeep Singh, who was flown to the district jail in Haryana’s Rohtak where the Dera Sacha Sauda chief is lodged to pronounce the punishment, said the sect leader did not deserve leniency as he had sexually exploited and intimidated his disciples.

“The convict did not even spare his own pious disciples and acted like a wild beast,” the judge said. “Both the victims put the accused on the pedestal of God and revered him like that only. However, the convict committed breach of gravest nature by sexually assaulting such gullible and blind followers.”

The flamboyant dera leader, who prefers bicep-baring T-shirts and takes on gangsters and aliens in his Messenger of God series of films, was in tears and pleaded with folded hands for mercy as the judge read out the verdict.

There were no reports of violence or arson after the sentencing, a contrast to August 25 when dera followers ran riot after he was found guilty in the 15-year-old case, leading to 38 deaths.

HT was the first to report that Ram Rahim faces prospects of harsher punishment. (Read the story here)

“It is 20 years in jail for Singh as two sentences will run consecutively with fine of Rs 30 lakh,” his lawyer SK Garg Narwana told HT.

The court set aside the defence team’s plea that Singh should be shown leniency because he was a social worker and was suffering from hyper-tension, acute diabetes and severe backache.

“… a man who has no concern for humanity, nor has any mercy in his nature, does not deserve leniency from the court,” it said, ordering both the victims be paid Rs 14 lakh each. Failure to pay would lead to two more years in jail. The remaining Rs 2 lakh will towards legal services authority.

During the proceedings that lasted for about four-and-a half hours, Singh said he was unwell and three ambulances were seen moving towards the jail complex. He was examined by a group of doctors, led by the Rohtak chief medical officer, and found to be fine.

After the sentence was announced, the 50-year-old Singh, who enjoys immense political clout on the back of millions of followers, sat down on the floor and wept. The burly leader had to be dragged to his barrack.

Singh would be lodged in a high-security cell and would have to do at least five hours of work in jail though it is not clear where he will serve the sentence.

He was flown to Rohtak as his followers rioted in Panchkula, where the case was heard, and other parts of Haryana and four other states.

The Punjab and Haryana high court had ordered that the judge be flown to the district jail to ensure his safety and that of his staff. The library was turned into a court room with a five-tier security cordon thrown around the jail.

The verdict was followed by hours of confusion with little information trickling out of the jail, where media wasn’t allowed.

Police had kept mediapersons a little more than a kilometer outside the jail. Initial reports said Singh would serve 10 years but later, lawyers clarified he had been handed two consecutive 10-year terms.

Stray incidents of arson were reported minutes before the verdict in Haryana’s Sirsa, where the sect is headquartered, but the presence of thousands of security personnel across the state and neighbouring Punjab staved off the violence that was witnessed on August 25.

“We will appeal the verdict in the high court,” Narwana said.

Singh could be staring at more trouble. Trial in two cases of plotting murder is in final stages and the CBI is probing accusations that he ordered castration of 400 of his followers.
Click on the links to see related Hindustan Times articles on the "godman" who calls himself Dr. Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan:

Ram Rahim sentencing: Our stand vindicated, says son of murdered journalist

Dark history behind India’s ‘guru in bling’ Gurmeet Ram Rahim

Ram Rahim sentencing | Fall from grace: From revered godman to prisoner

Now focus on other crimes committed by Gurmeet Ram Rahim and Dera associates

Once-influential, later scandal-ridden Indian Hindu guru Chandraswami dies at 66

Another backlog item--more evidence that religious scandals aren't only to be found among "Christian" televangelists or Roman Catholic clergy. Submitted for your approval, the following, as reported by Ellen Barry of The New York Times News Service, June 25, 2017:

Chandraswami, a Hindu holy man who counselled such 1980s glitterati as Elizabeth Taylor, Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi and the Sultan of Brunei before coming under a barrage of criminal investigations, died in New Delhi on May 23. He was 66.

A spokesman for Apollo Hospital said Chandraswami had a stroke recently and died there.

Born Nemi Chand Jain, the son of a Rajasthani moneylender, Chandraswami left home to study astrology and meditation, only to emerge a few years later as a "guru on the make," said Vinay Sitapati, a political scientist who interviewed him for a book. How Chandraswami spent the intervening time was never clear.

In the decades that followed, he built a vast network of political connections, most of them in the governing Indian National Congress, Mr. Sitapati said. In doing so, he became an influential purveyor of information about India's power centres and of that coveted good: access.

Rustic in appearance, with his wood staff and flowing beard, Chandraswami proved skillful at winning the trust of international leaders, securing their confidence by rattling off the names of his influential confidants and performing such seemingly supernatural feats as mind reading.

Often he would ask a new acquaintance to write questions on scraps of paper, crumple the scraps into balls, and then repeat each question as they unfolded the paper.

"He closed his eyes and went into a trance," wrote K. Natwar Singh, a senior diplomat. "Suddenly he asked my wife to pick up any of the paper balls. She did so. Opened it. Chandraswami then told her what the question was. He was spot on."

In the mid-1970s, Mr. Singh arranged a meeting between Chandraswami and Margaret Thatcher, then the newly elected leader of Britain's Conservative Party. (She was elected prime minister in 1979.) He said he had watched her skepticism melt away as the "godman," as he called him, who spoke only Hindi, guessed her scribbled questions correctly.

"By the fourth question, the future Iron Lady's demeanor changed," Mr. Singh wrote. Mr. Thatcher was so impressed, he said, that she asked for a second appointment, and even agreed to his request that she wear a red dress.

This talent, "for entering the heads of others," as one journalist put it, gave Chandraswami access to all manner of regents and superstars in a period when India's economy was beginning to tap into international networks.

Among Chandraswami's patrons, none mattered more than P.V. Narasimha Rao, India's prime minister from 1991 to 1996.

The two had met in 1971 at the Hindu temple Tirupati Balaji and entered into a kind of symbiosis. Mr. Rao was "a bit of a provincial country bumpkin" eager for the contacts and intelligence the guru could provide. Chandraswami won him over by passing on what other party members were saying about him, said Mr. Sitapati, author of the biography Half-Lion: How P.V. Narasimha Rao Transformed India.

"He needed someone like Chandraswami, who could use the back channels," Mr. Sitapati said.

When Mr. Rao was unexpectedly named prime minister in 1991, after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, Chandraswami's ashram became a hub for Delhi's power circles. He vacationed aboard Mr. Khashoggi's 86-metre yacht, Nabila. (It was later used as a set for a James Bond film and owned for a time by Donald Trump.)

Subramanian Swamy, a member of Parliament and a long-time friend of the guru's, said Chandraswami's prominence began to attract ill will.

"He was jetting around the world, living in great comfort," Mr. Swamy said. "A guru is supposed to sit in a hut."

His time in the limelight ended with breathtaking swiftness.

In 1996, Chandraswami was arrested on charges of defrauding Lakhubhai Pathak, a London-based Indian-born businessman, of $100,000 (U.S). Mr. Pathak, nicknamed the "pickle king" by the popular news media for the commodity his family business sold, claimed the money he had given to Chandraswami was meant for Mr. Rao, who left power in 1996. Chandraswami was acquitted in the case, as was Mr. Rao, who faced fraud charges.

An income-tax raid on the guru's ashram reportedly turned up records of $11-million in payments to Mr. Khashoggi, who was later implicated as a middleman in the Iran-Contra scandal, the clandestine effort in which the Reagan administration sold arms to Iran and channelled the proceeds illegally to right-wing counterrevolutionaries in Nicaragua.

In 1997, Congress Party leaders suggested that Chandraswami was party to the conspiracy that led to Gandhi's assassination, though the investigation was curtailed the next year and he was never charged. He was prohibited from travelling abroad, however, and politicians who had sought Chandraswami's blessings for years now avoided him. Even Mr. Rao, his old friend, kept his distance.

"Many of these people, who looked upon him as a spiritual person, seeing that he was not able to protect himself – naturally, there was a devaluation," Mr. Swamy said. "They suddenly felt, if this is what the state is doing to him, you better avoid him."

There was no immediate word on whether he left any family.

Chandraswami was cremated on the banks of the Yamuna River in a ceremony attended by a handful of mourners. The Press Trust of India said there were no VIPs among them.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

225 years ago: The birth of Charles G. Finney

On August 29, 1792, Charles Grandison Finney, a Presbyterian minister who was associated with the Second Great Awakening in the United States and who has been accurately called "The Father of American Revivalism," was born in Warren, Connecticut. He was President of Oberlin College in Ohio from 1851-1966 and died in Oberlin on August 16, 1875, 13 days before his 83rd birthday.

Mr. Finney believed in manipulating people's emotions in order to produce conversions, and I have no doubt that if he were around today, he would be a televangelist--and I don't mean that as a compliment. Click on the links for the excellent articles Charles Finney's Influence on American Evangelicalism by Bob DeWaay and The Disturbing Legacy of Charles Finney by Michael Horton.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Trudeaupia's Canada's top general disgraces the uniform by promoting sodomy

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Romans 1:24-32

The Chief of Defence Staff isn't the only Trudeaupian who's a disgrace to his uniform and office; so is Ottawa's police chief and an increasing number of police departments. With such attitudes and actions, police and military forces in Trudeaupia can't be regarded as representing God (as some Romans 13 extremists would have us believe). This blogger's father was a Royal Canadian Navy officer in World War II, and he definitely wasn't fighting for the right to practice and celebrate sodomy. Of course, neither the mentally and morally retarded pothead who currently occupies the Prime Minister's office, who never met a pervert parade he didn't want to march in, nor his less-than-patriotic father ever wore a uniform--except for the Nazi helmet that Pierre Trudeau reportedly wore while riding around Montreal on his motorcycle, while real Canadians were fighting for freedom.

As reported by Andrew Duffy of the Ottawa Citizen, August 27, 2017:

Capital Pride flexed its political muscle Sunday as the country’s foremost establishment figures joined the parade to celebrate the power of diversity.

The parade was blessed by sunshine and record-breaking crowds, but was stopped in its tracks for about 15 minutes by Black Lives Matter protesters who temporarily occupied a key intersection at Bank Street and Gladstone Avenue. A truce was negotiated and the parade continued.

The event made civil rights history in Ottawa.

Justin Trudeau became the first sitting prime minister to take part in Capital Pride’s signature event after three decades of pride parades in Ottawa.

And, for the first time, Canada’s highest-ranking soldier marched in a pride parade. The Chief of the Defence Staff, Gen. Jonathan Vance, was joined by other senior members of the Canadian Armed Forces, including the head of the army and navy.

They formed part of a large contingent of uniformed military personnel — about 100 strong — who took part in the parade.

In an interview, Vance said his was an act of leadership, not politics. Vance said he wanted to show support for LGBTQ2 soldiers and invite others from the same community to join the armed forces.

“We want excellent people — we have excellent people — and I’m here to say, categorically, that if you’re from the LGBTQ2 community, you should consider the armed forces a great career,” Vance said.

The general did not want to comment on events in the U.S., where President Donald Trump on Friday directed the Pentagon to extend a ban on transgender individuals joining the military.

Vance’s participation highlighted the civil rights advances made by the LGBTQ2 community during the past quarter century.

It was in 1992 that the Canadian military lifted an order that prevented members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities from serving in the military.

The Liberal government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has signalled that it intends to apologize to ousted military members as part of broader efforts to make amends to federal employees who suffered discrimination in the past due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sarah Evans, communications director for Capital Pride, said although crowd estimates are not available, she believed the parade was the largest in the city’s history.

More than 120 community organizations — everything from Hydro Ottawa to DS Plumbing to Muslims for Progressive Values — were represented in the parade.

Evans said this year’s parade made an important statement with so many political leaders on hand. Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown and Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson were among the participants.

“I think it sends a strong message about inclusion,” she said. “And I think it’s particularly poignant for members of the armed forces that General Vance was in the parade today.”

Uniformed military members first marched in the parade about 10 years ago. “I think we’ve come a long way,” Evans said. “When you look back at the beginning of pride, it was about LGBTQ2 people celebrating who they were in public and saying, ‘We exist; here we are.’ Today, Pride brings everyone together to celebrate our community.”

Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau marched in his fifth Capital Pride parade Sunday, but his first without his police uniform. Instead, he wore a bright orange golf shirt emblazoned with a police logo.

The golf shirt represented the compromise reached after parade organizers asked Bordeleau and other off-duty officers not to wear their uniforms. They said it was the only way for everyone to feel safe during the parade, but Bordeleau initially bristled at the idea of leaving his uniform at home.

In an interview, Bordeleau said he ultimately decided to stand with his LGBTQ2 officers. “They recognized that the uniform had become the story, which is not what they wanted,” he said.

Bordeleau said he was pleased that the parade had such a “good vibe” — the police chief was well received on the parade route — and that it was not marred by violence. “This is what Ottawa is about: it’s a great, diversified community and it believes in inclusion,” he said. “Our police officers are part of this community and we’re here to celebrate.”

Many veteran Pride participants marvelled at the changes they’ve witnessed during their lifetimes.

Ross Stretton, 66, of St. Catharines, said he believes the legalization of gay marriage in 2005 allowed more Canadians, including those in the military and police, to openly embrace the LGBTQ2 community.

“Things have evolved so quickly and in such a positive manner,” he said. “When I was a teenager, I never dreamt we’d experience something like this at all.”

Stretton said earlier generations of gay and lesbian activists laid the foundation for the climate enjoyed today. “A lot of young people today don’t realize what we older guys fought for,” he said. “Things were not easy in Toronto in the 1970s.”

Kelly Ladouceur, of Ottawa, a transgender female, said it’s important to see official Canada support the community. “It gives you that much more confidence to be out there to know our representatives walk beside us.”
Everything I said in my previous post Canadian Forces Base Edmonton: Standing on guard for Sodom (June 13, 2013) still stands.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

U.K. medical ethicist supports the creation of human-animal chimeras to produce human eggs

Medicine is magical and magical is art, you know
The boy in the bubble and the baby with the baboon heart...
...These are the days of miracle and wonder...
Paul Simon, The Boy in the Bubble, 1986

chimera: 3: an individual, organ, or part consisting of tissues of diverse genetic constitution A hybrid created through fusion of a sperm and an egg from different species is a chimera. "chimera." 2017. (22 August 2017).

I once heard the late Dr. Bernard Nathanson make a remark about not wanting to be left in the hands of a bioethicist. If you're wondering why, this might give you a clue--as reported by Sharon Kirkey in the National Post, August 21, 2017 (link in original):

First came the prospect of pigs incubating human organs. Now a medical ethicist is raising new moral questions by suggesting scientists create human-animal chimeras to produce human eggs.

While the goal, for now, would be to create a ready supply of eggs purely for biomedical research purposes, should the hybrid human eggs turn out to be as good as ones produced by humans, “I do not see any reason for not using them for treating human infertility,” said César Palacios-González, of the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics at King’s College London.

In a commentary in Reproductive BioMedicine Online, Palacios-González tests arguments against creating chimeras for human gamete production, and finds all of them wanting.

“Despite ongoing research and scientific and ethical discussions about the development of chimeras capable of producing solid organs such as kidneys and hearts for transplantation purposes,” he writes, “no wide discussion of the possibility of creating chimeras-IHGP (intended for human gamete production) has taken place.” If anything, scientists have fallen over themselves to reassure the public steps will be taken to avoid creating such creatures.

A leading Canadian reproductive biologist called the paper “deeply thought provoking” and says the idea isn’t outside the realm of possibility.

“Humans are mammals and there is really nothing intrinsically different about the process of reproduction between humans and every other mammal,” said Roger Pierson, a world expert on ovarian physiology at the University of Saskatchewan.

“We’re talking here not about what the combination of mammalian gametes might become, but we’re talking about the actual biological processes of passing our DNA from one generation to the next,” he said.

“The biology that comes out of this analysis is questioning some of the tenets of our assumptions about reproduction.”

In theory, the process could involve “interspecies blastocyst complementation” — the same technique researchers are exploring to create pigs capable of generating human organs for transplant.

A blastocyst — an early embryo — is taken from an animal and genes crucial for the development of a particular cell line or organ edited out. “In this case you would aim at the reproductive system,” Palacios-González said in an interview.

Next, human pluripotent stem cells (cells that have the potential to develop into any type of tissue in the body) taken from a donor’s skin are injected into the blastocyst to “compensate for the existing niche,” he said. “In this case human stem cells would complete the reproductive system, which would then create gametes.”

What conceivably could result is the ovary of a sow (or cow or other animal) that produces human eggs.

In January, Salk Institute scientists reported in the journal Cell they had succeeded in creating the first human-pig chimera embryos. None were allowed to grow beyond four weeks and half were abnormally small. But in others, the human stem cells survived and turned into progenitors for different tissues and organs.

The achievement was hailed a scientific “tour de force.” It also rattled ethicists, who warned of the remote but not impossible risk human stem cells intended to morph into a new liver, pancreas or heart could wend their up to the animal’s brain, raising the prospect of a chimera with human consciousness.

Others worried about transplanted human stem cells generating reproductive tissues. “Few people want to see what might result from the union between a pig with human sperm and a sow with human eggs,” the New York Times warned.

Palacios-González said that as far as he is aware, no one is actively pursuing creating chimeras capable of producing human sperm or eggs. “But maybe I am wrong, the world is just too big.” (The research that comes closest, he said, was published in 2014, when stem cells were taken from a skin sample from a man who produced no sperm and transplanted into the testicles of a mouse, where they became immature sperm.)

However, Palacios-González argues that claims that the creation of chimeras violates human dignity are “just false.”

Most don’t consider lab mice grafted with human cells such a violation, he writes in Reproductive BioMedicine. “Neither do we consider that human dignity is violated when someone receives a pig heart valve, which effectively turns them into a chimera.”

If human dignity is tied to “the possession of certain higher mental capacities,” he added, gene-editing tools like CRISPR could be used to avoid generating brain tissue, thereby reducing “the possibility of accidentally creating a chimera with human brain cells.”

Fears a human egg-producing chimera could become pregnant is a practical issue that could easily be avoided by, for example, creating only female chimeras, he writes. “This would be the most sensible thing to do given that there is no shortage of human sperm for research purposes.”

Even if it should one day become desirable to create chimeras capable of producing both eggs and sperm, “we could just take the appropriate measures for (the chimeras) to be segregated by sex.”

He also argues that — whether generated by humans or chimeras — human gametes “do not possess intrinsic worth capable of being debased” and that the eggs incubated by chimeras could go toward research “capable of saving people’s lives.”

Pierson said that, with focused work and funding, “this kind of work could be done in probably a year or less. This is not far fetched.”

“This is not about having a male mouse that’s ejaculating human sperm, coupled with a female mouse that’s ovulating human eggs and creating a human embryo in the mouse,” Pierson said.

Rather, among research questions, “It’s about understanding what our reproductive processes are — and what they could become,” he said. “We need to lay down the ethical principles for exploring these new types of ideas.”

Pierson said it could be the next step toward the completely lab-based generation of sperm and eggs. In vitro gametogenesis, or IVG, a technique still in its infancy, is aimed at creating functional sperm and eggs from induced stem cells. Last year, researchers in Japan reported in the journal Nature they had created mouse pups born from eggs created in a petri dish.

Pierson said any eggs generated from a nonperson chimera would likely come from a cow, and not a mouse, noting cows and humans share similar ovarian function.

NYU School of Medicine bioethicist Arthur Caplan said the technology is “a decade or more away and would need safety testing in animals for another few years, if it even worked.”

“Safety issues are huge for chimeras, just huge,” he added, including unknown mutations, subtle chemical differences in the derived eggs and the risk of communicating animal viruses.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Pope Francis orders Roman Catholic charity in Belgium to stop performing euthanasia in its psychiatric hospitals

As reported by Devin Watkins of Vatican Radio, August 11, 2017 (bold in original):

Pope Francis has ordered the Belgian arm of the Brothers of Charity religious order to stop offering euthanasia in its psychiatric hospitals.

The Holy See Press Office confirmed that the Pope gave his personal approval to a Vatican letter sent at the beginning of August, which gives the Catholic charity until the end of August to stop the practice at all of its 15 centers in Belgium.

Euthanasia is legal in the country, and in May the Brothers of Charity Group which administers the Belgian hospitals announced it would allow doctors to perform euthanasia on psychiatric patients.

The charity said in a statement it would be performed only if there were “no reasonable treatment alternatives”.

Joint letter affirming magisterium

Pope Francis also ordered Brothers of Charity who serve on the group’s board to sign a joint letter to their Superior General declaring that they “fully support the vision of the magisterium of the Catholic Church, which has always confirmed that human life must be respected and protected in absolute terms, from the moment of conception till its natural end.”

Brothers who refuse to sign the joint letter renouncing the practice of euthanasia will face sanctions under canon law, while the Catholic charity group can expect to face legal action and even expulsion from the Church if it fails to change its policy.

Brothers of Charity statement

Bro. René Stockman, General Superior of the Brothers of Charity, released a statement in response to the position of his Belgian brothers.

“The central point and the foundation within Christian ethics is that life is absolute, which cannot be touched. Life is a gift from God and entails an assignment. And because life is absolute, it is a state worthy of protection,” he wrote.

Mattias De Vriendt, a spokesman for the Belgium charity, said it had received the Vatican's request but had not yet responded.
He confirmed the charity's hospitals had received requests from patients seeking euthanasia recently but could not say whether any procedures had been performed.
As reported by Elise Harris of Catholic News Agency, August 10, 2017:
Vatican City, Aug 10, 2017 / 10:16 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis is cracking down on a Belgian Brothers of Charity-run organization, giving the group until the end of August to stop offering euthanasia to patients in their psychiatric centers.

In addition, each of the religious brothers serving on the board of the Brothers of Charity Group, the organization that runs the centers, has been ordered to sign a joint letter to their general superior, Br. Rene Stockman, declaring their adherence to Church teaching.

Brothers who refuse to sign the letter will face punitive action under canon law, while the group itself is expected to face legal action and could have its Catholic status revoked if it does not change its policy.

The Vatican order, sent at the beginning of August, follows several prior requests that the group drop the policy, which allows doctors to euthanize non-terminal mentally ill patients on its grounds.

In comments to CNA Aug. 10, Br. Stockman said he initially went to the Vatican for help in the spring, when the group, which is a state organization run by the order, decided to change their policy on euthanasia on the grounds that their stance was culturally abnormal.

Since the year 2000, the group has maintained a firm policy against euthanasia and how to cope with requests for it, he said, explaining that as a state organization, they take requests for euthanasia seriously, and try to help the patient regain their desire for life, “knowing of course that someone who is very depressive can have the tendency to ask for euthanasia.”

After doing everything possible to help alleviate any depression present in a patient, if the individual still requests euthanasia – which is legal in Belgium – the brothers would transfer them elsewhere.

“We don't accept that euthanasia should be done inside our institutes,” Br. Stockman said, noting that this had been the organization's firm policy until last year, when the group “started to deflect,” claiming that the Catholic position was “unique” in Belgium, where euthanasia is widely accepted, even for children.

The group argued that they had to “adapt,” and so developed a new vision that Br. Stockman said “we could not accept as a congregation.”

Despite the fact that all board members are Catholic, and some have high political profiles, in Belgium “secularization is very, very high, very strong,” Br. Stockman said, “so you have to ask yourself what is Catholic still?”

In response to the group's decision to change the policy, “we said very clearly first of all, for us respect of life must always be absolute,” the superior general said.

However, he said, the group responded that “respect of life is fundamental, but autonomy for the person is on the same level,” and once the two are placed on the same level, “then the autonomy of the patient becomes absolute, and not respect for life.”

Despite meeting resistance from Br. Stockman, the group insisted on implementing their new policy, which went into effect in June for each of the 15 psychiatric centers they run throughout Belgium.

As a response, the general superior went to the Belgian Catholic Bishops Conference and asked that they back him in the debate. When the organization continued to resist, despite pressure from the bishops conference, Br. Stockman took the issue to the Vatican.

He was eventually invited to present the issue before both the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, both of which became involved in investigating the issue.

The doctrinal congregation then promptly drafted a letter reiterating the Church's position on euthanasia and insisted that the group step back into line with doctrine. However, the letter was ignored.

Br. Stockman then received a specific mandate from the Congregation for Consecrated Life “to see that the organization can again be in line” with Church teaching.

Part of his mandate is enforcing the ultimatum and gathering the group's response by the end of August. Br. Stockman said he has not spoken with Pope Francis personally, but that it is the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life who conceived the ultimatum and presented it to the Pope, who gave it his full support.

Of the three brothers who are members of the organization's board of trustees – the majority of board consists of laypeople – Br. Stockman said he is still waiting for their answers, but is “quite positive about that, I can say that, I think the brothers will conform themselves.”

To ask the brothers to reaffirm their adherence to Church teaching is “logical,” he said, because “when you are a religious, then you have to be in line with the Church.”

“I know them and they are really under pressure from the whole mentality,” he said, but voiced confidence that they will send the letter without any problems.

As for the organization itself, the general superior said he has been in contact with the board members. “They said they received the letter and that they will discuss again in their board the situation,” he said, adding “I am waiting for the final answer.”

When asked if there was fear that even if the organization does change the policy back, they would be forced by the state to provide euthanasia, Br. Stockman said that thankfully, as of now institutions can't be forced, “so I think we also have to use this opening not to do it.”

“If the law changes and they say that institutions have to do euthanasia, then the situation becomes totally different. Then we have to ask ourselves, can we still continue as a Catholic hospital in a certain environment where we are forced to do euthanasia?”

“But until now we have the possibility to refuse euthanasia inside the walls of the institute,” he said.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

In England, as elsewhere, cannibalism is a manifestation of paganism

That was apparently the case 15,000 years ago, according to paleontologists. As reported by Sarah Kanpton of the London Daily Telegraph, August 9, 2017 (links in original):

Cheddar Gorge in Somerset’s Mendip Hills is one of Britain’s most beautiful natural wonders, with its sweeping limestone cliffs, and striking natural rock chambers.

But new evidence suggests the picturesque site had a deeply sinister past.

Paleontologists have discovered that around 15,000 years ago, British cave dwellers filleted and ate their dead relatives before inscribing markings on their bones in grisly prehistoric rituals.

It is the first time that such practices have been found in the Paleolithic, or Old Stone Age - which dates from 2.6 million years ago to around 12,000 BC - anywhere in the world.

Scientists from the Natural History Museum in London and University College London (UCL) compared hundreds of cut-marks found on both human and animal bones at Gough’s Cave, one of the Gorge’s most impressive caverns.

They discovered that one human bone had been disarticulated, filleted, chewed and then marked with a zig-zag design, before it was finally broken to extract the bone marrow.

Researchers ruled out that the marks were made during the butchery process because they were found on a part of the bone with no muscle attachments.

They concluded that the ‘zig-zagging incisions are undoubtedly engraving marks, produced with no utilitarian purpose but purely for artistic or symbolic representation.’

The scientists speculate that the marks may have represented the ‘story’ of the victim’s life or a memorial to how they died. Whichever, they agree it must have been part of a ritual or ceremony to mark the person’s passing, like modern day funerary rites.

Silvia Bello, Calleva Researcher at the Natural History Museum, says: “The engraved motif on the Gough’s Cave bone is similar to engravings observed in other Magdalenian European sites.

“However, what is exceptional in this case is the choice of human bone and the cannibalistic context in which it was produced.

“The sequence of modifications performed on this bone suggests that the engraving was a purposeful component of the cannibalistic practice, rich in symbolic connotations.

“Although in previous analyses we have been able to suggest that cannibalism at Gough’s Cave was practiced as a symbolic ritual, this study provides the strongest evidence for this yet.”

Gough’s Cave was first discovered in the 1880s and frequent excavations at the site have found evidence that humans lived there for thousands of years, including ‘Cheddar Man’, Britain’s oldest complete human skeleton, which dates from 7,150 BC.

DNA taken from the skeleton was been found to match that of Adrian Targett, a man living in the local area today.

The cave is 115 m (377 ft) deep and is 3.405 km (2.12 mi) long, and contains a variety of large chambers and rock formations.

Human bones have been found intermingled with butchered large mammal remains as well as flint, bone, antler, and ivory artefacts including a 13,000 year old carving of a wooly mammoth.

They team has previously found skulls at the site which had been turned into bowls or cups, possibly to eat or drink from.

The research was published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Click on the link to see the original article An Upper Palaeolithic engraved human bone associated with ritualistic cannibalism in PLOS One, August 9, 2017.

Modern pagans in England and elsewhere are already marking their own bodies; it's only a matter of time before they start eating and marking dead bodies.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Unflushed toilet leads to arrest of burglary suspect

...and be sure your sin will find you out. Numbers 32:23b

Another argument in favour of proper hygiene--if you use the toilet while committing a crime, always be sure to flush. As reported by Jeremy Childs of the Ventura County Star, August 7, 2017 (updated August 8, 2017):

Fecal matter left at the scene of a Thousand Oaks burglary last October led to the arrest of a suspect from Ventura, police said.

Andrew David Jensen, 42, was arrested July 28 on suspicion of committing a burglary on Oct. 7, 2016, in the 2900 block of Cottonwood Court, authorities said.

While searching the crime scene, police found fecal matter in an unflushed toilet that possibly had the suspect's DNA, according to Detective Tim Lohman of the Thousand Oaks Police Department. Authorities took a sample and submitted the evidence to the Ventura County Sheriff's Office Forensic Services Bureau for processing.

Once a DNA profile was processed, scientists submitted the results to the Combined DNA Information System to see if the profile matched a known suspect, police said.

On July 25, the California Department of Justice informed Thousand Oaks police that the profile matched Jensen.

Authorities arrested Jensen on suspicion of first-degree residential burglary, a felony. His bail was set at $70,000 and he is scheduled to appear at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Courtroom 12 of Ventura County Superior Court.

It wasn't the first time fecal DNA has helped lead authorities to a crime suspect in Ventura County.

The case of the 1997 murder of Ventura teenager Jake Bush during a burglary remained "cold" for years. However, DNA extracted from feces left inside the burglarized home helped identify Marco Casillas, of Port Hueneme, as a suspect in 2014. Casillas was convicted of the death and sentenced in March to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
HT: Dracul Van Helsing

Saturday, August 5, 2017

London Underground caves in to SJWs

There's no safe place from Social Justice Warriors. As reported by Simon Veazey in The Epoch Times, July 27, 2017 (updated July 28, 2017):

BIRMINGHAM, England—The words “ladies and gentlemen” have survived eight centuries of British obsession with class, breeding, and manners. Now, however, they have been deemed too discriminatory for the 150-year-old London Underground.

It’s not because “lady” and “gentleman” once referred to the bourgeoisie nobility and landowning classes of the 12th century. Nor because they echo back to the days when Victorians argued over whether gentlemen or ladies were born or bred, and when a gentleman’s behavior was defined by his deportment toward the “weaker sex.”

In place of “ladies and gentlemen,” public announcements on the underground will now start with terms such as “good morning, everyone” to avoid offending those who do not wish to be greeted as either sex.

Mark Evers, director of customer strategy at Transport for London (TfL), said in a statement: “We want everyone to feel welcome on our transport network. We have reviewed the language that we use in announcements and elsewhere and will make sure that it is fully inclusive, reflecting the great diversity of London.”

TfL oversees the public transport system, including the underground train system, known to Londoners as “the tube,” that carries an average of 3.5 million passengers daily.

Among Londoners, the announcement prompted indifference, praise, annoyance, and, of course, British humor.

Some joked about renaming stations such as Seven Sisters to conform with new politically correct ideas.

A variety of organizations, notably those that campaign under the LGBT umbrella, welcomed the new policy.

At Hammersmith underground station, the reaction of passengers was mixed.

“I’d be happy with the greeting ‘good morning, everyone,'” said Gabi Hieber, 41, from West London. “But if they change it for the silly reason of not offending any transgender people, then I think it’s actually rubbish...”

...Richard Curry, spokesperson for the Traditional Britain Group, said the change was “a very subtle but sinister form of authoritarianism.”

“This attempt to control language is an attempt by a very vocal but very small minority to impose their will on the rest of us,” he said via email. “This is a flight from basic biological reality and amounts to not only the telling of a lie, but an attempt to get the rest of society to become complicit in this lie.”

Frank Furedi, emeritus professor of sociology at Kent University, has spoken out on the issue of politically correct “linguistic policing” at universities. He was also critical of TfL’s move.

“It is quite remarkable how speedily cultural attitudes on very fundamental matters can change now within weeks and months rather than decades,” Furedi said.

“The fact that this has happened is symptomatic of the emptying out of traditional culture.” He said that a sense of “cultural malaise” has “opened the door to just about anything.”

Such language policing is part of a “very morally illiterate form of social engineering,” he added.

“It’s almost as though people have forgotten the Orwellian lessons and have started to become Orwellian themselves.”

Furedi said the policing of language actually comes from a very small minority with power, who think they are demonstrating benevolence. He said that those who are “offended” are not only a tiny number, but are actively choosing to be offended.

Ironically, the conduct for British gentlemen and ladies was traditionally focused on not causing offense at all costs.

“True courtesy, indeed, chiefly consists in accommodating ourselves to the feelings of others, without descending from our own dignity, or denuding ourselves of our own principles,” wrote Cecil B. Hartley in “The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness” in 1860, just a few years before the first trains rolled out on the London Underground.

But even Hartley might have struggled to apply his principles to potential offense at the very words “ladies and gentlemen.”

Star Trek: Discovery prohibits any mention of God

As reported by James Hibberd of Entertainment Weekly, July 27, 2017:

The imposing Captain Gabriel Lorca strides across the Starship Discovery bridge, squinting at the raging battle on the viewscreen, rattling off orders to his crew with rapid precision. There’s a Federation ship under attack by Klingons, and the Discovery is rushing to join their fight. “Lock on the Bird of Prey!” Lorca barks. “Basic pattern Beta 9. Hard to port! Fire at something, for God’s sakes!”

Too late.

The Klingons blast the Discovery. Lorca and his shipmates lurch hard to one side. The high-tech set’s thousands of lights flicker anxiously, conveying the ship’s wounds.

The director halts the action and Lorca, played by British actor Jason Isaacs of Harry Potter fame, steps off the stage. The episode’s writer, Kirsten Beyer, approaches to give a correction on his “for God’s sakes” ad lib.

“Wait, I can’t say ‘God’?” Isaacs asks, amused. “I thought I could say ‘God’ or ‘damn’ but not ‘goddamn.’ ”

Beyer explains that Star Trek is creator Gene Roddenberry’s vision of a science-driven 23rd-century future where religion basically no longer exists.

“How about ‘for f—’s sake’?” he shoots back. “Can I say that?”

“You can say that before you can say ‘God,’ ” she dryly replies.
Vox Day, on his Vox Popoli blog, sums it up nicely in his post Anything But God (August 3, 2017):

Star Trek is a show for atheists and pedophiles. Now they're openly pandering to the former; it won't be too terribly long before they start pandering to the latter.

For further reading, see:

Pedophilia and Star Trek

The Dark Herald: Star Trek and Communism

Star Trek - Gene Roddenberry was a Misogynistic Hack

HT: Vox Popoli

Friday, August 4, 2017

Man claiming to be Roman Catholic priest is arrested for sexual assaults on teenage boys

If a pervert is looking for sex with youths, it might seem easier to recruit victims by claiming to belong to an occupation that's prominently associated with such activity. As reported by Kevin Maimann of Metro News, August 1, 2017:

ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation Unit has arrested a man who claimed to be a Catholic priest on sexual assault charges in connection with two teenage boys.

Detectives say Justin Georges Stephen Coulombe, 33, has identified as a clergy member publicly and online but has no affiliation with the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton or any other diocese in Canada or the U.S.

ICE began investigating in June after the mother of one of the alleged victims went to police with information about “sexually graphic messages” that had been exchanged online.

The relationship with the boy became sexual, investigators say.

“This case is troubling. It leads me to believe that a young man was groomed, and this contact that occurred in person was set up to take place over time,” said Det. Brian Cross with ICE.

Cross said the boy’s mother “absolutely did the right thing” in bringing the information to police.

The alleged offenses against the second teenage boy happened online, where the victim was sexually extorted through online images.
Cross said the alleged assaults took place under various online platforms.

Both victims were under age 16.

“The victims in this case will require a lot of support moving forward for many years to come in order to cope emotionally with what’s been done to them,” Cross said.

ICE investigators worked with Edmonton police to execute a search warrant on a residence in north Edmonton on July 27, where they seized “multiple electronic devices” and arrested Coulombe.

Officers found child pornography images on the machines.

Several vigilante websites, like Encycopedia Dramatica, have compiled web posts that link to someone believed to be Coulombe talking openly about being attracted to boys, under various online identities, but Cross said no official complaints were made against the suspect until the teen boy’s mother came forward.

Coulombe moved to Edmonton from Langley, B.C. in January 2017, after previously having lived in Edmonton.

Police believe there may be more victims in Alberta or B.C. and are asking anyone with more information to come forward.

Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton spokesperson Lorraine Turchansky said she has not heard of any other cases involving impersonation of Catholic priests in the city but that it's important people know Coulombe is not affiliated with the church.

“It’s hurtful, really, when someone does that and tarnishes the image of our priests, who work so hard to serve people and to help people and not to harm them," Turchansky said.

Coulombe has been charged with:

- luring to commit the making of child pornography (x2)

- luring to commit an offence against a child

- sexual interference

- invitation to sexual touching

- sexual assault

- possession of child pornography

- extortion