Saturday, 30 September 2017

U.K. supermarket allows payment by scanning the fingertip veins of customers

And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Revelation 13:16-17

The world is increasingly being softened up to take the mark of the Beast. While the Bible never refers to that mark as good, the world is increasingly promoting the technology that's leading to the adoption of the mark of the Beast in terms of convenience and security for prospective users. As reported by Karen Morley in the London Daily Telegraph, September 20, 2017 (links in original):

A UK supermarket has become the first in the world to let shoppers pay for groceries using just the veins in their fingertips.

Customers at the Costcutter store, at Brunel University in London, can now pay using their unique vein pattern to identify themselves.

The firm behind the technology, Sthaler, has said it is in "serious talks" with other major UK supermarkets to adopt hi-tech finger vein scanners at pay points across thousands of stores.

It works by using infrared to scan people's finger veins and then links this unique biometric map to their bank cards. Customers’ bank details are then stored with payment provider Worldpay, in the same way you can store your card details when shopping online. Shoppers can then turn up to the supermarket with nothing on them but their own hands and use it to make payments in just three seconds.

Finger vein-scanning is a proven technology in Japan #biometric #payments
— Sthaler (@SthalerLtd) July 12, 2017

It comes as previous studies have found fingerprint recognition, used widely on mobile phones, is vulnerable to being hacked and can be copied even from finger smears left on phone screens.

But Sthaler, the firm behind the technology, claims vein technology is the most secure biometric identification method as it cannot be copied or stolen.

Shaler said dozens of students were already using the system and it expected 3,000 students out of 13,000 to have signed up by November.

Finger print payments are already used widely at cash points in Poland, Turkey and Japan.

Vein scanners are also used as a way of accessing high-security UK police buildings and authorising internal trading at least one major British investment bank.

The firm is also in discussions with nightclubs, gyms about using the technology to verify membership and even Premier League football clubs to check people have the right access to VIP hospitality areas.

The technology uses an infrared light to create a detailed map of the vein pattern in your finger. It requires the person to be alive, meaning in the unlikely event a criminal hacks off someone’s finger, it would not work. Sthaler said it take just one minute to sign up to the system initially and, after that, it takes just seconds to place your finger in a scanner each time you reach the supermarket checkout.

Simon Binns, commercial director of Sthaler, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘This makes payments so much easier for customers.

"They don’t need to carry cash or cards. They don’t need to remember a pin number. You just bring yourself. This is the safest form of biometrics. There are no known incidences where this security has been breached.

"When you put your finger in the scanner it checks you are alive, it checks for a pulse, it checks for haemoglobin. ‘Your vein pattern is secure because it is kept on a database in an encrypted form, as binary numbers. No card details are stored with the retailer or ourselves, it is held with Worldpay, in the same way it is when you buy online."

Nick Telford-Reed, director of technology innovation at Worldpay UK, said: "In our view, finger vein technology has a number of advantages over fingerprint. This deployment of Fingopay in Costcutter branches demonstrates how consumers increasingly want to see their payment methods secure and simple."

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Roman Catholic clergy and lay scholars issue "filial correction" of Pope Francis

Confirmation that increasing numbers of Roman Catholics are concerned about the direction taken by Pope Francis comes from this item, as reported by Edward Pentin in the National Catholic Register, September 23, 2017 (links, bold in original):

A group of clergy and lay scholars from around the world have taken the very rare step of presenting Pope Francis with a formal filial correction, accusing him of propagating heresies concerning marriage, the moral life, and reception of the sacraments.

Entitled Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis, meaning ‘A Filial Correction Concerning the Propagation of Heresies,’ the 25 page letter was delivered to the Holy Father at his Santa Marta residence on Aug. 11.

The Pope has so far not responded to the initiative, whose 62 signatories include the German intellectual Martin Mosebach, former president of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, and the superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay (he learned of the document only after it had been delivered to the Pope and signed it on behalf of the Society).

The letter begins by saying that with “profound grief but moved by fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ, by love for the Church and for the papacy, and by filial devotion toward yourself” the signatories feel “compelled” to take this action “on account of the propagation of heresies.”

They cite in particular Francis’ apostolic exhortation on marriage and the family, Amoris Laetitia, and “other words, deeds and omissions.”

They accuse the Pope of upholding seven heretical positions about “marriage, the moral life, and the reception of the sacraments” which, they say, has “caused these heretical opinions to spread in the Catholic Church.”

The clergy and scholars “respectfully insist” that Pope Francis condemn the heresies that he has directly or indirectly upheld, and that he teach the truth of the Catholic faith in its integrity.

The filial correction, the first to be made of a reigning Pontiff since Pope John XXII was admonished in 1333, is divided into three main parts.

In the first, the signatories say they have the “right and duty” to issue such a correction. They make clear the doctrine of papal infallibility has not been contradicted as the Pope has not promulgated heretical opinions as dogmatic teachings of the Church, but they maintain that Francis has “upheld and propagated heretical opinions by various direct and indirect means.”

The second part deals with the correction itself. Written in Latin, it lists the passages of Amoris Laetitia in which, they argue, the Pope insinuates or encourages heretical positions. They mention those who claim these texts can be interpreted in an orthodox way, but the correction lists examples of when it is clear “beyond reasonable doubt” that the Pope “wishes Catholics to interpret these passages in a way that is, in fact, heretical.” In particular, they say the Pope has advocated the belief that obedience to God’s moral law can be impossible or undesirable, and that Catholics should sometimes accept adultery as compatible with being a follower of Christ.

In the third part, the signatories highlight two causes of this crisis: modernism and the influence of Martin Luther. They argue that the embrace of modernism, which they define as the belief that God has not delivered definite truths to the Church which she must continue to teach in exactly the same sense until the end of time, means that faith and morals become “provisional and subject to revision.” Such thinking, they point out, was condemned by Pope St Pius X. Regarding Martin Luther, they show how some of the Pope’s ideas on marriage, divorce, forgiveness, and divine law correspond to those of the German Reformation monk, and draw attention to the “explicit and unprecedented praise” the Pope has given the 16th century heresiarch.

No accusation of formal heresy

The signatories stress they are not accusing the Pope of formal heresy (when a person departs from the faith by doubting or denying some revealed truth with a full choice of the will), and are making “no judgment about Pope Francis’s culpability in propagating the seven heresies” as it is “not their task to judge about whether the sin of heresy has been committed.”

But they also note that some faithful who have spoken up in defense of the Catholic faith have been subject to reprisals within the Church and Church institutions. They therefore say the signatories “speak for a large number of clergy and lay faithful who lack freedom of speech.”

The addition of Bishop Fellay, as well as the SSPX’s district superior in Britain, Father Robert Brucciani, are notable for the fact that the Society continues to be in talks about returning to full communion with Rome. Pope Francis has been open to reconciliation with the Society, which has had differences with Rome over some teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

See...[links]...for the full text of the correction, and the list of signatories.

This is the sixth major initiative in which both clergy and laity have expressed concerns about the Pope's teaching, particularly emanating from Amoris Laetitia. Despite the repeated pleas and warnings of chaos and confusion, Francis has refused to respond or acknowledge the initiatives which are as follows, in chronological order:

. In September 2015, just ahead of the second Synod on the Family, a petition of nearly 800,000 signatures from individuals and associations around the world including 202 prelates was presented to Pope Francis, calling on him to issue words of clarity on the Church's teaching on marriage and family. The signatories, from 178 countries, expressed concern about “widespread confusion” arising from the possibility that “a breach” had been opened within the Church at the previous synod.

. In July 2016, a group of 45 Catholic scholars, prelates and clergy sent an appeal to the College of Cardinals asking that they petition Pope Francis to “repudiate” what they saw as “erroneous propositions” contained in Amoris Laetitia. They said the apostolic exhortation contains “a number of statements that can be understood in a sense that is contrary to Catholic faith and morals.”

. On Sept. 19, 2016, four cardinals — Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller, Raymond Burke, and Joachim Meisner — presented the Pope with dubia, five questions on disputed passages of Amoris Laetitia with the aim of obtaining clarification and resolving confusion over diverse interpretations of the controversial passages among various bishops and episcopal conferences. The Pope did not acknowledge the dubia, nor did he respond to the cardinals’ request for an audience in May.

. In February this year, confraternities representing thousands of priests worldwide issued a statement saying a clarification of Amoris Laetitia was “clearly needed” in the wake of “widespread” differing interpretations of the apostolic exhortation. They also thanked the four cardinals for submitting the dubia.

. In April this year, six lay scholars from different parts of the world held a conference in Rome in which they drew attention to the same controversial passages of Amoris Laetitia, showing the extent of concern and unease among the laity over the papal document and its interpretation.
As reported by Dan Hitchens of the British publication Catholic Herald, September 24, 2017 (links in original):

...Most of the document’s first signatories were academics. They include Mgr Prof Antonio Livi, formerly rector of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome; Prof Thomas Stark, who teaches at the Benedict XVI Academy of Philosophy and Theology in Austria; and Claudio Pierantoni of the University of Chile. Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the SSPX, is also a signatory, as is Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, former Vatican bank president.

Another signatory, Prof Stéphane Mercier of the Catholic University of Louvain, has been disciplined by the university for voicing his pro-life views.

Some of the signatories put their names to a letter addressed last year to the College of Cardinals, asking them to request that the Pope condemn certain heresies and errors.

But the new text, which was sent to the Pope a month ago, addresses him in language unprecedented in modern Catholic history: “With profound grief, but moved by fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ, by love for the Church and for the papacy, and by filial devotion toward yourself, we are compelled to address a correction to Your Holiness on account of the propagation of heresies effected by the apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia and by other words, deeds and omissions of Your Holiness.”

The signatories say that they are permitted to address the Pope because of natural law – which allows a subject to correct a superior – and by canon law, which permits the faithful to make known their views to their pastors. They also cite the example of St Paul rebuking St Peter in Galatians 2.

Amoris Laetitia, issued in April last year, has provoked diverse interpretations. Several bishops have said that it is compatible with the Church’s perennial teaching, reaffirmed several times in recent years, that the divorced and remarried cannot receive Communion, except possibly when they resolve to live “as brother and sister”.

However, other bishops have contradicted this teaching. The bishops of Malta said that, since avoiding sex outside marriage might be “impossible”, Communion should not be withheld from those who felt “at peace with God”.

The scholars’ letter notes that these guidelines were published in Osservatore Romano, the official newspaper of the Holy See. Addressing Pope Francis, the letter says: “No criticism of these guidelines was made by the Osservatore Romano, which presented them as legitimate exercises of episcopal teaching and authority. This publication was an official act of the Holy See that went uncorrected by yourself.”

The letter lists several other ways in which the Pope has encouraged error. These include his approval – in a leaked letter – of the diocesan guidelines of the Buenos Aires bishops; his silence when asked the dubia, which aimed to clarify that Church teaching on sin, grace and the sacraments was still valid; and several other actions.

The signatories say there is a dual “danger” for Catholics: they will either be led to affirm false doctrines, or they will be led to deny the Pope’s unique prerogatives as Supreme Pontiff. The signatories themselves affirm that “Your Holiness possesses the charism of infallibility, and the right of universal jurisdiction over Christ’s faithful, in the sense defined by the Church.”

But they observe that Vatican I and Vatican II both “noted that the powers of the Roman pontiff are limited in many ways”, so that some statements – for instance, the most controversial passages in Amoris Laetitia – are not infallible.

The correction, which is in Latin, identifies seven errors which Amoris Laetitia and other papal actions could perpetrate. These include: that those who have divorced and remarried can receive the Eucharist without making a firm resolution to avoid sexual relations; that God might permit or even ask someone to have sexual relations outside a valid marriage; and other connected propositions related to the Church’s teaching on marriage, grave sin and the Eucharist.

One signatory, Dr Joseph Shaw, said he “felt an obligation” to sign the letter. He cited canon law, which says the lay faithful have “the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful”

Dr Shaw commented: “This right becomes a duty when to remain silent would be to consent to what in your conscience appears clearly wrong.

“That does not mean that I think I am or the petitioners as a group are infallible; it just means that I feel I must manifest my view.”

Asked whether the letter was disloyal to Pope Francis, Dr Shaw pointed out that the Pope “has explicitly, forcefully, and repeatedly called for honest expressions of conflicting opinions. Not only did he call for parrhesia among the participants of the Synod on the Family, but he has personally thanked those who have written or said things critical of him.”

Another signatory, Anna Silvas of the University of New England, said: “Why would I not sign the letter? Almost on a daily basis the news confirms that Pope Francis’s agenda must be resisted. His cancellation and re-invention of the John Paul II Institute so that it serves the very opposite of the entire spiritual and intellectual mandate given it by St John-Paul (and Caffara) is scary. The next item for demolition, in the usual fog of bland, ‘accompanying’, ‘discerning’ language, is the doctrine of Humanae Vitae.

“And already visible, just around the corner from that, is the formal endorsement of widening Eucharistic hospitality to those in sexually active same-sex relationships.”

Silvas predicted that Catholic teaching will be “neutered as so many nice-sounding ‘ideals’, and buried in something called ‘mercy’.”

The signatories are not the first to express concern about Amoris Laetitia and its aftermath. Two scholars, John Finnis and Germain Grisez, have also asked for the Pope to condemn some interpretations of Amoris Laetitia. Last month the theologian Fr Aidan Nichols suggested that a papal correction might be needed because of the Pope’s actions. The cardinals who presented the dubia may also issue a correction of the Pope this year.
And as reported by Life Site News, September 27, 2017 (links in original):

ROME, September 27, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The “Filial Correction” of Pope Francis issued by Catholic clergy and scholars has been top news in Catholic and secular media outlets — including the AP, BBC, CNN, Fox News, Drudge Report, Huffington Post, and Daily Mail.

This correction, charging him with permitting the spread of seven heresies, at least by omission, about “marriage, the moral life, and the reception of the sacraments,” has clearly been making a massive worldwide impact.

Nevertheless, some articles, such as that which appeared in the National Catholic Reporter, have suggested that the correction is nothing important, made by “really marginal figures” of little standing.

“Since I have given my own life to the priesthood exclusively for the salvation of souls, I had to add my name to the Correctio.”
The director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, also seemed to downplay the document’s importance. On Monday, he responded to reports in the Italian press that the Vatican had blocked access to the website of the “filial correction” on its computers.

“You can’t really imagine we would do this [block the website] for a letter with 60 names,” he joked to the Italian newspaper Il Giornale.

Even senior officials at the Vatican believe a response is not warranted, the National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin reported on September 26, partly because they say it has been signed by only a relatively small number of Catholics they consider not to be major names.

Nevertheless, this story is evolving fast. In the first 72 hours since the correction was made public, the number of signatories has more than doubled, rising from 62 to 146. The rate doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

LifeSite spoke to Father Andrew Pinsent, Research Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at Oxford University, who has been one of the latest signatories and who is currently lecturing at venues across Latin America.

“I signed the Correctio Filialis De Haeresibus Propagatis, not due to a lack of filial respect for the Holy Father, but because of the gravity of the situation,” Fr. Pinsent told LifeSiteNews.

Although the number of initial signatures of the original document was quite modest, it must be understood in terms of the wider context of what is happening in the Church.

“The Correctio is a next step, consistent with the teaching of Jesus Christ (Matt 18:15-17) and St. Paul confronting St. Peter (Gal 2:11), that follows a series of unanswered petitions since 2015,” Fr. Pinsent said.

He added: “These petitions have included one with nearly 800,000 signatures from 178 countries and including 202 prelates prior to the ludicrously manipulated ‘Synod on the Family’; the appeal of the 45 scholars, prelates, and clergy to the College of Cardinals to repudiate what are widely perceived as erroneous propositions in Amoris Laetitia; the dubia of the four cardinals, whom the Pope did not even have the courtesy to meet; and the statement of the confraternities representing thousands of priests worldwide.”

Commenting on what’s at stake, Fr. Pinsent said: “As Prof. Josef Seifert, friend of St. Pope John Paul II, warned recently, before being sacked for making this warning, we are facing the risk of the total destruction of the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.”

“I add that the contradictions now being introduced deny reason, which is contrary to the heart of Catholic theology, the examples of great saint scholars like St. Thomas Aquinas, and the consistent teaching of our two most recent popes. Such divisions of faith and reason are catastrophic for the Church’s mission of the salvation to souls.”

“Since I have given my own life to the priesthood exclusively for the salvation of souls, I had to add my name to the Correctio.”

The story is evolving in other ways as well. The original correction did not include any bishops in full communion with the Church, a fact that has also been cited as a reason to dismiss its importance. Nevertheless, as LifeSite reported on Monday, Bishop emeritus Rene Henry Gracida, 94, of Corpus Christi, Texas, has also added his name to the signatories.

Bishop Gracida was known to be a close friend of Mother Angelica and an effective communicator of the Church’s teaching on divorce and remarriage.
Readers who are interested can go here to see the names of the latest signatories.

Friday, 22 September 2017

Yet another apocalyptic prediction is about to be proven false

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Psalms 19:1

It's the bold and fearless prediction of this blogger that the most recent upcoming date for the apocalypse--September 23, 2017--will come and go, and the false prophets will continue as before.

As reported by Kristine Phillips in the Washington Post, September 17, 2017 (links in original):

A few years ago, NASA senior space scientist David Morrison debunked an apocalyptic claim as a hoax.

No, there’s no such thing as a planet called Nibiru, he said. No, it’s not a brown dwarf surrounded by planets, as iterations of the claim suggest. No, it’s not on a collision course toward Earth. And yes, people should “get over it.”

But the claim has been getting renewed attention recently. Added to it is the precise date of the astronomical event leading to Earth’s destruction. And that, according to David Meade, is in six days — Sept. 23, 2017. Unsealed, an evangelical Christian publication, foretells the Rapture in a viral, four-minute YouTube video, complete with special effects and ominous doomsday soundtrack. It’s called “September 23, 2017: You Need to See This.”

Why Sept. 23, 2017?

Meade’s prediction is based largely on verses and numerical codes in the Bible. He has homed in one number: 33.

“Jesus lived for 33 years. The name Elohim, which is the name of God to the Jews, was mentioned 33 times [in the Bible],” Meade told The Washington Post. “It’s a very biblically significant, numerologically significant number. I’m talking astronomy. I’m talking the Bible … and merging the two.”

And Sept. 23 is 33 days since the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, which Meade believes is an omen.

He points to the Book of Revelation, which he said describes the image that will appear in the sky on that day, when Nibiru is supposed to rear its ugly head, eventually bringing fire, storms and other types of destruction.

[Will the mysterious shadow planet Nibiru obliterate Earth in October? No.]

The book describes a woman “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head” who gives birth to a boy who will “rule all the nations with an iron scepter” while she is threatened by a red seven-headed dragon. The woman then grows the wings of an eagle and is swallowed up by the earth.

The belief, as previously described by Gary Ray, a writer for Unsealed, is that the constellation Virgo — representing the woman — will be clothed in sunlight, in a position that is over the moon and under nine stars and three planets. The planet Jupiter, which will have been inside Virgo — in her womb, in Ray’s interpretation — will move out of Virgo, as though she is giving birth.

To make clear, Meade said he’s not saying the world will end Saturday. Instead, he claims, the prophesies in the Book of Revelation will manifest that day, leading to a series of catastrophic events that will happen over the course of weeks.

“The world is not ending, but the world as we know it is ending,” he said, adding later: “A major part of the world will not be the same the beginning of October.”

Meade’s prediction has been dismissed as a hoax not only by NASA scientists, but also by people of faith.

Ed Stetzer, a professor and executive director of Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, first took issue with how Meade is described in some media articles.

“There’s no such thing as a Christian numerologist,” he told The Post. “You basically got a made-up expert in a made-up field talking about a made-up event.… It sort of justifies that there’s a special secret number codes in the Bible that nobody believes.”

Meade said he never referred to himself as a Christian numerologist. He’s a researcher, he said, and he studied astronomy at a university in Kentucky, though he declined to say which one, citing safety reasons. His website says he worked in forensic investigations and spent 10 years working for Fortune 1000 companies. He’s also written books. The most recent one is called “Planet X — The 2017 Arrival.”

Stetzer said that while numbers do have significance in the Bible, they shouldn’t be used to make sweeping predictions about planetary motions and the end of Earth.

[For some, eclipse day showcases God’s majesty. For others, it means the Rapture is coming.]

“Whenever someone tells you they have found a secret number code in the Bible, end the conversation,” he wrote in an article published Friday in Christianity Today. “Everything else he or she says can be discounted.”

That is not to say that Christians don’t believe in the Bible’s prophesies, Stetzer said, but baseless theories that are repeated and trivialized embarrass people of faith.

“We do believe some odd things,” he said. “That Jesus is coming back, that he will set things right in the world, and no one knows the day or the hour.”

The doomsday date was initially predicted to be in May 2003, according to NASA. Then it was moved to Dec. 21, 2012, the date that the Mayan calendar, as some believed, marked the apocalypse.

Morrison, the NASA scientist, has given simple explanations debunking the claim that a massive planet is on course to destroy Earth. If Nibiru is, indeed, as close as conspiracy theorists believe to striking Earth, astronomers, and anyone really, would’ve already seen it.

“It would be bright. It would be easily visible to the naked eye. If it were up there, you could see it. All of us could see it. … If Nibiru were real and it were a planet with a substantial mass, then it would already be perturbing the orbits of Mars and Earth. We would see changes in those orbits due to this rogue object coming in to the inner solar system,” Morrison said in a video.

Doomsday believers also say that Nibiru is on a 3,600-year orbit. That means it had already come through the solar system in the past, which means we should be looking at an entirely different solar system today, Morrison said.

“Its gravity would’ve messed up the orbits of the inner planets, the Earth, Venus, Mars, probably would’ve stripped the moon away completely,” he said. “Instead, in the inner solar system, we see planets with stable orbits. We see the moon going around the Earth.”

And if Nibiru is not a planet and is, in fact, a brown dwarf, as some claims suggest — again, we would’ve already seen it.

“Everything I’ve said would be worse with a massive object like a brown dwarf,” Morrison said. “That would’ve been tracked by astronomers for a decade or more, and it would already have really affected planetary objects.”

Some call Nibiru “Planet X,” as Meade did in the title of his book. Morrison said that’s a name astronomers give to planets or possible objects that have not been found. For example, when space scientists were searching for a planet beyond Neptune, it was called Planet X. And once it was found, it became Pluto.

Stetzer encouraged Christians to be critical, especially in an information era marred with fake news stories.

“It’s simply fake news that a lot of Christians believe the world will end on September 23,” Stetzer wrote. “Yet, it is still a reminder that we need to think critically about all the news.”

He took issue with a Fox News story with a headline that appears to give credence to the doomsday claim — and was published in the Science section under the label “Planets.”

“Every time end-of-the-world predictions resurface in the media, it is important that we ask ourselves, ‘Is this helpful?’ ” Stetzer wrote. “Is peddling these falsehoods a good way to contribute to meaningful, helpful discussions about the end of times?”
Mr. Stetzer is correct. The apocalyptic predictions of people such as Mr. Meade and those who made apocalyptic predictions for other dates are using "Christian" methods of numerology and/or astrology, which are forms of divination, and forbidden by God. Although the names of a few constellations are mentioned in the Bible (see, for example, Job 9:9, 38:31-32 and Amos 5:8), those names are used in reference to God's greatness as creator, and are never used for an astrological purpose, i.e., to make predictions.

Those who try to find a code hidden in the Bible are using a gnostic, rather than a Christian, understanding of the Scripture. Gnosticism says that there's a secret, hidden knowledge contained in the Bible, and you can obtain that knowledge if you have the key or have figured out the code. That may remind the reader of "Rabbi" Jonathan Cahn and his views and predictions regarding the Shemitah (his new book The Paradigm has just been released), and I definitely put him in that category (and one of these days I may get around to doing a post on Mr. Cahn).

For further reading, I recommend the books Soothsayers of the Second Advent by William M. Alnor (1989); Astrology: Do the Heavens Rule Our Destiny? by John Ankerberg and John Weldon (1989); and Decoding the Bible Code: Can We Trust the Message? by John Weldon (1998).

April 14, 2018 update: Here he goes again; as reported by Katie Dangerfield of Global News, April 13, 2018 (links in original):

A recycled prediction for the end of the world is making waves on the internet again, with doomsayers warning a planet is hurtling towards a collision with Earth on April 23.

Conspiracy theorist David Meade is predicting Planet X, also known as Nibiru, will show up at the end of April, sparking an Armageddon.

But don’t worry, Meade also predicted Nibiru was going to hit Earth in September 2017 and then in October 2017 and then adjusted his timeline to November 2017.

And we’re still here.

At that time, NASA senior space scientist David Morrison told the Washington Post, “No, there’s no such thing as a planet called Nibiru. No, it’s not a brown dwarf surrounded by planets, as iterations of the claim suggest. No, it’s not on a collision course toward Earth. And yes, people should ‘get over it.’”

The latest doomsday prediction comes after Meade told the Daily Express Nibiru will appear in the sky on April 23 and trigger world-destroying volcanoes, tsunami and earthquakes.

His theory traces back to the Biblical passages of Revelation 12:1-2, which refers to a “great sign appearing in heaven,” and a “woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.”

“On April 23, the sun and moon will be in Virgo, as will Jupiter, which represents the Messiah,” the Daily Express reported. “Experts at first dismissed this claim when they discovered this alignment happens every 12 years. However, the conspiracy theories claim another planetary alignment, representing ‘the Lion of the tribe of Judah’, will make this time the Rapture.”

The theory of Nibiru colliding with Earth goes back decades — and NASA keeps debunking it.

“The planet in question, Niburu, doesn’t exist so there will be no collision,” NASA states on its website. “The story of Niburu has been around for years (as has the ‘days of darkness’ tale) and is periodically recycled into new apocalyptic fables.”

“If Nibiru or Planet X were real and headed for an encounter with the Earth, astronomers would have been tracking it for at least the past decade, and it would be visible by now to the naked eye.”

Astronomer, Neil deGrasse Tyson also tackled the subject in 2009, when it was predicted that Planet X was going to destroy Earth on Dec. 21, 2012.

In a video, he refers to the prediction as a “marvellous work of fiction.”

“What the site [conspiracy website] doesn’t tell you is that [alignment] happens every year on December 21,” Tyson said. “They left that out of the account.”
See also my posts:

No sympathy here for Camping followers (May 24, 2011)

Mayan idea of time goes beyond 2012 (May 21, 2012)

Members of pseudo-Christian cult in China arrested for spreading December 21, 2012 fear (January 15, 2013)

Thursday, 21 September 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, 20 September 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, 13 September 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, 12 September 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, 7 September 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, 4 September 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, 3 September 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.