Thursday, 30 April 2020

105 years ago: A Catholic priest takes his congregation to court, while America's most prominent evangelist offers politically-incorrect comments on the big fight

In the early 20th century, not only did newspapers print the text of major church sermons, but religious news items regularly appeared on the front page. Submitted for your approval, the following item from page 1 of The New York Times, April 6, 1915 (bold, capitals in original):

Metuchen Authorities Put to It to House Men Father Camadia Says Libeled Him.
Wholesale Arrests Follow Charge That Pastor Drank Too Much at a Pig Roast.
Special to The New York Times

METUCHEN, N.J., APRIL 5--Unless there is a big supply of ready cash on hand tomorrow, Metuchen will have to build a lean-to to the town jail to accommodate the 102 members of the Hungarian Roman Catholic Church of South River, who are charged with having libeled criminally their pastor, the Rev. Father Paul Camadia. Fifteen of the parishioners were arrested today. The others will be apprehended tomorrow.

Furthermore, the order has gone forth to lock them up if they can't furnish bail. Among the accused are some of the most important citizens of Metuchen. The town jail hasn't nearly enough room for so many prisoners. Justice of the Peace William B. Black signed so many warrants today that his hand became cramped and Chief of Police Eberwin said it would be an all-day job to serve the warrants on the South River congregation.

The trouble started over a pig roast some weeks ago. Some of the congregation charge that Father Camadia became "intoxicated and hilarious," and proceeded to sing songs and strike persons in the street. They drew up a petition to this effect and sent it to Bishop John F. McFaul at Trenton. Whereupon Bishop McFaul sent it to Father Camadia.

The priest asserted that the charges were untrue. On the question of pig roasts, rum, duck suppers, and the like he has ideas akin to those of the Rev. Billy Sunday, and he even preached a sermon, he said, denouncing such things. Then he took the petition to court. The warrants followed.

"The petition which the congregation signed is so libelous," said Justice Black today, "that Father Camadia is justified in taking drastic action. Prosecutor William E. Florance is co-operating with me. Those who cannot furnish bail will be locked up."

And that isn't all. Father Camadia went before the Middlesex Grand Jury as complaining witness against his sexton and organist and another member of the congregation. He complained that they had broken up a service in the church on Feb. 28 by removing an emblem from the church and putting it in a saloon at Drury Hill.

The troubles of the South River folk have torn Metuchen in two. Father Camadia gave a parade and picnic tonight, and his followers turned out in force. Their rivals also got up a celebration. The police were ready to do their part if called on.
Billy Sunday (1862-1935) was a popular, if mediocre, outfielder with the Chicago White Stockings (1883-1887), Pittsburgh Alleghenys (1888-1890), and Philadelphia Phillies, batting .248 with 12 home runs and 170 runs batted in in 499 games. He was known for his speed, and stole 246 bases--84 in his last season.

In the 1886 or 1887 season, Mr. Sunday came to saving faith in Jesus Christ through the ministry of Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. In 1891, he turned down a lucrative baseball contract offer in order to accept a position with the YMCA in Chicago. Mr. Sunday began hitting the "sawdust trail" as an evangelist in 1896, aided by his wife Nell, and became the most prominent evangelist in the United States in the first two decades of the 20th century. His popularity waned in the 1920s with the coming of radio and motion pictures. By the time of his death, it was estimated that Mr. Sunday had preached 20,000 sermons, to a total of over 100 million people (including repeat attenders). For more on Mr. Sunday, see Billy Sunday Online.

On December 26, 1908, Jack Johnson, a Negro American, defeated white Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia to win the world heavyweight boxing title. Mr. Johnson's win, and his flamboyant behaviour--including his preference for white women--outraged white Americans. Former world champion Jim Jeffries yielded to public pressure and came out of a five-year retirement to fight Mr. Johnson in 1910, but Mr. Johnson won easily. After several years of attempts to find a "white hope," Jess Willard knocked out Mr. Johnson in the 26th round to take the title on April 5, 1945. The fight took place in Havana because Mr. Johnson was wanted in the United States for alleged violation of the Mann Act for transporting a woman across state lines for immoral purposes. Billy Sunday was in Paterson, New Jersey when the Johnson-Willard fight took place, and offered his comments on the event.

Unitarians, as their name indicates, believe that God exists in just one person, and thus deny the Trinity and the deity of Jesus Christ. Unitarians also deny original sin and biblical inerrancy. The American Unitarian Association was established in 1825; it united with the Universalist Church of America in 1961 to form the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). It was the earlier Unitarian organization that was opposing Mr. Sunday. As reported on page 6 of The New York Times, April 6, 1915 (bold, capitals, in original):

He Picked Johnson for Winner, but Says White Men Should Be Glad Willard Won.
"Too Much Booze and Too Much Paris," She Adds, in Diagnosing the Black Bruiser's Defeat.
Special to The New York Times

PATERSON, N.J., April 5--Billy Sunday took a day off today, and in the limousine which has been put at his disposal as long as he is here he and his wife, "Ma" Sunday, toured the city and paid several visits, among them calls at several banking houses.

First, Billy dropped in on Mayor Robert Fordyce at the City Hall, and in response to a hearty greeting exclaimed:

"Well, you have a regular city here. I had no idea Paterson was such a large and bustling place. You should be proud of it."

Mrs. Sunday said she was pleased with the city also.

At Police Headquarters Sunday met Chief Bimson and the other officers and hen slid a couple of weights down the shuffleboard in the platoon room, declaring the exercise was "bully" for the stomach muscles.

Next the couple went to see "Jim" McCormick, Sunday's old "baseball sidekick, " who was in bed with an attack of rheumatism. McCormick greeted Sunday with the exclamation:

"Hello, Bill. You don't look five years older."

"The pleasantest moment in months," was the way Sunday described this meeting with his old friend. They talked over old baseball days for half an hour until Mrs. Sunday suggested that it was time for Sunday to get home and receive his newspaper interviewers.

Thought Willard "Easy Meat."

Sunday received a score of newspaper men. He was gowned in a silken bath robe, reclined in a big easy chair, and talked of his early baseball days. He showed considerable interest in the Johnson-Willard fight at Havana, and early in the afternoon picked "a winner" in the person of Johnson. When the returns came in Sunday said:

"I thought Willard was easy meat for Johnson, but the result is great. Every white man should be happy."

"Hurrah!" was "Ma" Sunday's comment. "It's a case of too much booze and too much Paris. Booze defeated Johnson."

Billy talked of the time when he quit baseball to work for the Y.M.C.A. at a salary of $83 a month. Previous to making the decision to enter evangelistic work for the Y.M.C.A. Sunday was swamped with telegrams, he said, offering him flattering salaries to stay in the baseball game.

"I remember my first meeting after I had started out to be an evangelist," he said. "It was in a tent in Perry, Iowa, and there were 500 people. Ma and I were more than worried, because we were afraid expenses would not be met."

Asked what he was going to do tonight, Billy said: "To bed at 7 o'clock and a good night's rest to be ready and fit for tomorrow's work."

Sunday said he intended to cut his meeting short tomorrow night, closing at 8:30 o'clock in order that he might attend the Philip Sousa Band concert at the Fifth Regiment Armory. The evangelist is acquainted with several members of the band, and said it was his intention to have a seat with them on the platform.

Unitarians Ready to Fight.

That the Unitarians are ready for Sunday's expected attack and are prepared to retaliate with well-known speakers armed with legions of facts about their religion was evidenced by the appearance of stacks of printed matter in the reading room which will be opened tomorrow at Orpheus Hall.

Mrs. Ethel B. Robinson of Paterson and Montclair, author of "The Religion of Joy" and "Glimpses of God," and prominent in the work of Unity Church, Montclair, is in charge for the present, and told something of the plans of the campaign. She said no meetings had been planned for April, but four would be held in May.

"Of course, if Mr. Sunday makes any attack on our religion or doctrines, speakers will be brought on at once," she said. Among the possibilities as speakers are former President William H. Taft, Dr. Charles W. Eliot of Harvard University, John Haynes Holmes, pastor of the Church of the Messiah of New York, and Rabbi Stephen M. Wise of New York.

Informed of Sunday's remark that he had no more fear of the Unitarians than he had of the saloonkeepers and that Taft was a "good scout," Mrs. Robinson said:

"Billy Sunday has no fear of the Unitarians and the Unitarians have no fear of Billy Sunday. We are all trying to do God's work in this world. The Unitarians are only too glad Billy Sunday is in Paterson,and they hope and expect he will do marvelous work here. No truly religious man scorns another religious man. Man needs to have his soul set on fire with a zeal to do God's work. The tiny baby is not devilish, but is a spark of God."

Among the pamphlets of the Unitarians is one entitled, "What Do Unitarians Believe?" In addition to an analysis of the Unitarian pledge it contains a long list of America's prominent men who profess the Unitarian faith. Mrs Robinson said that from now on until the close of the Billy Sunday meetings the reading rooms would be open to the public and every opportunity would be given the people of Paterson to learn the true principles of the Unitarian faith.

Monday, 27 April 2020

BBC Radio broadcasts Muslim prayers for the first time

I wonder how temporary this will prove to be; as reported by Benedict Spence of Arab News, April 8, 2020:

LONDON: Muslims in the UK can now listen to Friday prayers broadcast on BBC radio for the first time.

Different imams lead the 5:50 a.m. broadcasts every week on 14 BBC local radio stations, reciting verses from the Qur’an or quotes from Prophet Muhammad, before delivering sermons and leading listeners in prayer.

The stations’ audiences are in parts of Britain with large Muslim communities — Leeds, Sheffield, Lancashire, Manchester, the West Midlands, Leicester, Stoke, Derby, Nottingham, Coventry and Warwickshire, the Three Counties, Merseyside, Berkshire and London.

“Local radio is all about connecting communities, and we hope these weekly reflections will go some way to helping Muslims feel a sense of community while they are isolating,” said Chris Burns, the head of BBC Local Radio.

Places of worship throughout Britain have been closed since March 23 in one of the measures introduced to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The BBC already broadcasts Christian services on Sundays on 39 of its local and national stations.

The Friday prayer broadcasts, which began last Friday, will continue for as long as Muslims are unable to attend their local mosques. There are also plans for regular broadcasts for other religious minorities, such as the Hindu and Jewish communities, the BBC said.

In a TV broadcast to the British people on Sunday, Queen Elizabeth praised people of “all faiths” for their combined efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

California "pastor" pleads guilty in $33-million investment scam

Yet another one; as reported by Sean Emery of the Orange County Register, April 17, 2020 (link in original):

The pastor of a Westminster-based church accused of swindling more than $33 million from investors has agreed to plead guilty to criminal charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Kent R.E. Whitney, 38, of Newport Beach is expected to admit to federal counts of mail fraud and filing a false federal income tax return, court filings show.

Prosecutors allege that Whitney ran the Church of the Healthy Self – along with a related investment arm known as CHS Trust – out of a strip mall in Westminster.

Whitney directed church representatives to appear on television and at live seminars –appearances that were recorded and frequently uploaded on YouTube – in order to solicit investments. Among the false and misleading claims prosecutors allege were presented to investors were promises of a 12% rate of return, a guaranteed return of principal with no risk due to federal insurance and a claim the organization was audited by an accounting firm.

In reality, prosecutors say, little investor money went into trading accounts, and fake monthly statements purporting to outline nonexistent investment returns were prepared for investors.

Prosecutors also allege that Whitney reported an income of $17,539 in the 2018 tax year, far less than the $452,872 he is believed to have earned that year. Of that, prosecutors believe $435,333 came from the alleged fraud scheme.

Previous court filings tied to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation alleged that investor funds were used to purchase Rolex watches, a Bentley automobile, Gucci apparel and guns, as well as on rent for various Newport Beach properties. That filing also alleged that Whitney founded the church in 2014, three months after completing a 44-month prison sentence for a commodities scam.
As reported by Hillary Davis of the Los Angeles Times, April 17, 2020:

...According to his plea agreement, Whitney ran the Ponzi scheme from September 2014 until April 2019 out of Church for the Healthy Self, which he founded and operated out of a Westminster strip mall. The church appeared to have no sanctuary, according to court documents.

At Whitney’s direction, church representatives appeared on television and at live seminars at church offices to solicit investments in CHS Trust, the church’s investment arm, and made several false or misleading claims, authorities allege. They included guaranteeing an annual rate of return of 12%, guaranteeing a return of principal with no risk because CHS Trust was federally insured and boasting that the church’s traders had not lost money in 15 years.

According to authorities, Whitney and his associates targeted the Vietnamese community by advertising on Little Saigon radio and television stations as well as on YouTube. The scheme identified at least 355 investors.

Investors sunk more than $33 million into the scheme over the 4½ years, but in reality, little of that money went into any trading accounts, court documents state. But Whitney directed that monthly statements be sent to investors showing falsified reports of returns, authorities say.

Whitney also admitted that he filed a false federal income tax return in 2018 claiming $17,539 in total income even though his true income was at least $452,872, largely obtained through the fraud scheme. The resulting tax loss was at least $130,808, according to the plea agreement.

Whitney faces a sentence of up to 23 years in federal prison. He has a previous federal conviction for defrauding investors in a commodities scheme. He had been released from prison a few months before forming Church for the Healthy Self.

The FBI investigated the case with the assistance of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Dutch Supreme Court permits euthanasia of dementia patients

It comes as no surprise to this blogger that the slippery slope is getting slipperier; as reported by Christine Rousselle of Catholic News Agency, April 22, 2020:

The Supreme Court of the Netherlands ruled on Tuesday, April 21, that it is lawful for doctors to euthanize patients with severe dementia, provided that the patient had expressed a desire to be euthanized while still legally capable of doing so.

Lower courts had previously ruled that a doctor had not acted improperly when he euthanized a 74-year-old woman with advanced dementia, even though the woman had to be repeatedly sedated and physically restrained during the procedure. The case was sent to the Supreme Court for further clarification of the country’s euthanasia law, which permits doctors to kill patients considered to be in “unbearable suffering.”

Per Dutch law, euthanasia is only legal for those with dementia if they had written or discussed an advanced directive with their doctor.

“For some people, the prospect of ever suffering from dementia may be sufficient reason to make an advance directive (living will). This can either be drawn up independently or discussed first with the family doctor. A physician can perform euthanasia on a patient with dementia only if such a directive exists, if statutory care is taken and if, in his opinion, the patient is experiencing unbearable suffering with no prospect of improvement,” says the Dutch government’s website.

The woman who resisted her euthanization had written an advanced directive four years prior, requesting the procedure in lieu of being put in a nursing home. In the directive, she had said she wished to “be able to decide while still in my senses and when I think the time is right.”

Prosecutors argued that her attempt to fight off the doctor indicated that she could have changed her mind, but was unable to verbally communicate.

Dr. Charles Camosy, a professor at Fordham University and bioethicist, told CNA that the supreme court decision is part of a legal “slippery slope” in the Netherlands on euthanasia. Camosy said that patients with conditions including mental deterioration will be at the heart of future debate.

“I believe the next great fight over fundamental human equality will be over the value of human beings with advanced dementia,” he said. “It is impossible, in my view, to separate what is happening in the Netherlands from the broad rejection in the post-Christian West of fundamental human equality.”

A person with advanced dementia or a severe brain injury, Camosy said, is unable to communicate consent to be euthanized, meaning that the doctor performing the euthanasia will be likely the one to decide if the patient is in severe enough suffering to merit death.

“Doctors are notoriously bad at judging these things,” said Camosy. “Study after study finds that they rate the quality of life of their patients worse than the patients do themselves. They assume people want more quality of life than length of life, when in fact the numbers show exactly the opposite.”

Camosy told CNA that given how the Netherlands has euthanized newborn infants, who are also unable to communicate a degree of suffering, for about two decades, “it follows logically that they could say it about someone with late-stage dementia.”

“Like prenatal human beings, and human beings with massive brain injuries, human beings with late-stage dementia simply don’t ‘count,’ morally speaking, the same as human beings that have been determined to have the traits that make someone a person,” he said.

Instead of further expanding euthanasia, Camosy suggested that the Netherlands instead ramp up the number of caregivers for dementia patients, and work to empower families of dementia patients to provide care for them.
See also my posts:

The latest from the Netherlands: Euthanasia house calls (December 17, 2011)

Dutch authorities prosecute doctor for performing involuntary euthanasia on elderly woman (November 18, 2018)

Apostate Congregational church in Nebraska offers drive-by Easter egg hunt

I'm a few weeks late in posting this, but here it is for the record, as reported in the Lincoln Journal-Star, April 3, 2020 (link in original):

First-Plymouth Congregational Church will offer a drive-by Easter Egg Hunt Sunday, April 12, from noon to 7 p.m. around the block outside the church at 20th and D streets.

On Easter Sunday, First-Plymouth encourages families to pile in the car to take an afternoon drive to see over 300 large and colorful Easter egg signs around the church block. Everyone is asked to respect social distancing and remain in your vehicles as you drive by. Planners hope the event will brighten things up a bit during this difficult time.

For more information on First-Plymouth, go to or call 402-476-7565.
A quick glance at the church's Who We Are page shows it to be a member of the United Church of Christ, claiming to be Christian while denying every fundamental Christian doctrine, and sounding more like Unitarians than Christians (bold inserted by blogger):

First-Plymouth strives to blend tradition and innovation, the historical and the contemporary. Our worship services have a quality that echoes through the ages and yet, speaks to the present and points to the future. Our religious life is shaped by five guiding principles: We are Christian, Open-minded, Spiritual, Evolving and Diverse. First-Plymouth Congregational Church is part of the United Church of Christ.


"Christian" means we perceive in Jesus the divine qualities of love, peace, joy, and justice. It does not mean we think Jesus is the only path to God.

"Christian" means we eagerly explore the Bible for its spiritual wisdom contained in symbol, metaphor, and history. It does not mean a literal or heavy-handed approach that uses the Bible to prove we are right or righteous.


"Open-minded" means we understand faith as a quest, not a clutched certainty. "Open-minded" flies above the tired distinction between conservative and liberal, and does not refer to one’s specific beliefs, but how one relates to those beliefs. It means we do not assume a defensive posture, but rather enter appreciatively into different points of view with the expectation of learning and growing.


"Spiritual" means we believe God is a spirit of love that can be felt and known by each one of us. It means Christianity is as much about the heart as the head, as much about the body as the mind.

"Spiritual" means not merely hoping for a better world or pining after justice, but rolling up one’s sleeves and starting to feed the hungry, care for the sick and anguished, house the homeless and advocate for a more just society.


"Evolving" means rather than resisting change or innovation, we eagerly experiment with new ways of being faithful and new understandings. We strive to be rooted but not stuck.


"Diverse" means we celebrate the differences among us such as sexual orientation, ethnicity, class, mental abilities, physical capabilities, personalities, and backgrounds.

"Diverse" means we trust that these differences inform and strengthen community. A diverse spiritual community welcomes conventional believers, curious agnostics, and questioning skeptics.

And, finally, "diverse" means you are free to seek your own guiding principles in our midst. These principles are not a creed to which one must ascribe. Rather, they are one attempt to describe the spirit and nature of our congregation.

– Jim Keck, Senior Minister, First-Plymouth Church
The current sermon series promotes mysticism:


This week Dr. Keck continues his sermon series on mysticism. Using three mystical exemplars from history - Girodano Bruno, Joan of Arc and Howard Thurman - he will propose that the mystical heart of Christianity can be reclaimed through the theological imagination(Bruno), an embrace of high tradition (Joan of Arc) and an appreciation of nature mixed with a thirst for justice (Thurman). Join the journey this Sunday!

New Danish Bible version omits Israel

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. Deuteronomy 4:2

As reported by the Danish site 24NYT, April 19, 2020:

A new official translation of the Bible into Danish arouses wonder among religious people. The Danish “Bible Society”, which is responsible for the translation, has cleansed the New Testament – which in the new edition is called “The New Agreement” of the word “Israel”.

According to Jan Frost, who has read the new edition, it applies both when the land of Israel and when the people of Israel are mentioned. Israel is otherwise mentioned in this way in the New Testament more than 60 times.

Mr. Frost states in a video posted on YouTube that the word ‘Israel’ is only used once in the “Bible 2020”, which is the name of the new edition. In all other passages, the word ‘Israel’ is either replaced with ‘Jews’, ‘the land of the Jews‘ or not replaced with an alternative term at all

The translators of the new edition, according to Jan Frost, offer the explanation, that the land of Israel in biblical times was not identical to present Israel.

But the same logic is not applied by the translators when the land of Egypt is mentioned. This land is also called ‘Egypt’ in the new edition of the Bible.

On social media, several users are furious at the radical change of such a central element of the New Testament, and a widespread criticism suggests a suspicion that Israel has been removed for political reasons.
As reported by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz of Breaking Israel News, April 20, 2020 (links in original):

...Posts on social media suggested that the change may have been politically motivated as an anti-Israel statement. In a recent interview about the Bible 2020, Elaine Duncan, Global Council Chairperson of the Bible Society, noted that the new edition has already been downloaded to more than 90 countries, which she considered to be a great success at moving towards what she described as a “global church.”

Rabbi Tuly Weisz, the founder of Israel365, an organization that promotes the significance of the Land of Israel to the nations, disagreed strongly with the approach of the Danish Bible society.

“This translation of the New Testament is an important reminder that replacement theology is not a problem of the past,” Rabbi Weisz told Breaking Israel News. “Some segments of Christianity still have a replacement theology problem. The notion that Israel can be scrubbed from the Bible is as ridiculous as removing ‘God’ from the Bible.”

Christian replacement theology, also called supersessionism, holds that the Christian Church has succeeded the Israelites as the definitive people of God. Supersessionism requires reading the term Israel, referring to either the people or the land, as an allegory for the Christian Church.

It should be noted that the Danish Bible Society is run by the Evangelical Lutheran Church, a strong proponent of supersessionism. In 2018, Robert O. Smith, a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and a stalwart in the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation, addressed a conference at St. Olaf Institute for Freedom and Community. Smith was seated before a Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) banner and made these declarations: “The ancient Israelites are not linked in any substantive or material way to the contemporary, modern state of Israel. . . . The biblical narrative of Israel has almost nothing to do with contemporary Israel other than the intentional manipulation of sacred texts to justify a political project.”

At the same conference, Palestinian Lutheran pastor, administrator, and theologian Mitri Raheb stated, that “it wasn’t the Lord God who promised Israel the land; it was the Lord Balfour.” Raheb also claimed that “Jesus was a Middle Eastern Palestinian Jew.”

Rabbi Weisz believes that Israel is one of the basic tenets of the Bible and towards this end, published The Israel Bible, a Hebrew version of the Torah, Prophets, and Writings with a linear English translation. As its name implies, The Israel Bible focuses on the land in which the Biblical events took place, the people of Israel, and the relationship between them, and the modern state that is the manifestation of God’s eternal covenant.

“Each of the 929 chapters of The Israel Bible features a different aspect of the land of Israel, the people of Israel, and the God of Israel,” Rabbi Weisz said. “The term Israel encompasses all three and they are inseparable. If you remove Israel from the Bible, you have removed God from the Bible.”

It should be noted that the term “Israel” is used a total of 73 times in the New Testament, the term “Israel” is used a total of 73 times in the New Testament. The term is first used in the Torah as a name given to Jacob after battling the angel of Esau, meaning “You have striven with beings divine and human, and have prevailed.” (Genesis 32:29). Israel became synonymous with his descendants, the Children of Israel, and the land God promised to them. The word ‘ Israel’ appears over 2,200 times in the Torah, Writings, and Prophets. It is also interesting to note that ‘Jerusalem’ and its alternative Hebrew name ‘Zion’ appear 850 times in the Old Testament.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Muslims declare Islamic supremacy in prayer at Roman Catholic mass in Ireland


With friends like the priest mentioned in the following article, who needs enemies? As reported by Jules Gomes of the Roman Catholic site Church Militant, April 3, 2020 (links in original):

COUNTY MAYO, Ireland -- Muslims, invited by a Catholic priest in Ireland to pray alongside him during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, prayed the Adhan — the Islamic call to prayer that categorically proclaims Islam's supremacy over its forebears — Judaism and Christianity.

Father Stephen Farragher, parish priest of St. Patrick's Church in Ballyhaunis, County Mayo, invited two Muslims to "pray in solidarity" with him "the final blessing and prayer" at the 10 a.m. Friday Mass to be broadcast on radio, Midwest Radio Ireland reported.

Mohammed Cherbatji and Mohammed Rahmani joined Fr. Farragher to seek a blessing on all frontline health care workers and frontline workers during the pandemic and pray for the eradication of the Wuhan virus. The church was reportedly empty because of the Wuhan virus restrictions.

However, a video of the Islamic prayer released on Twitter showed one of the Muslims in the pulpit cantillating the Adhan in Arabic.

Church Militant contacted an Arabic expert and scholar in Islamic jurisprudence who confirmed that the prayer was not a blessing for health care workers but the "Islamic call to prayer, which conclusively and unambiguously asserts that God's revelation to Muhammad has supplanted and superseded God's prior revelations to Moses in the Old Testament and to Jesus in the New Testament."

The Adhan asserts: "Allah is the greatest. I bear witness that there is no god except Allah. I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Come to prayer. Come to salvation." These affirmations are repeated twice.

Theologian Dr. Gavin Ashenden, who resigned his position as Chaplain to the Queen in protest against a reading from the Koran at St. Mary's Cathedral in Glasgow, Scotland, confirmed to Church Militant that "the Muslim call to prayer is a dramatic piece of Islamic triumphalism."

"It proclaims Islam's superiority over all other religions, and in so doing casts Jesus in the role of a charlatan and a liar. The Muslim god, Allah, is unknowable and has no son. Jesus was, therefore, a fraud in claiming He and the Father are one," Ashenden, who recently converted to Catholicism, said.

"In a religious narrative where one religion denigrates another, compromise is not logically or theologically available," he stressed.

Ashenden explained how Fr. Farragher, having invited a Muslim to end his broadcast-Mass with the Adhan prayed from the Catholic pulpit, "so far from creating a congenial interfaith event for the online world, he had given a platform to an alien prayer that invalidated the Mass, his Saviour, the authenticity of the Gospels and the legitimacy of the whole Catholic Church."

Ashenden added:

No doubt he sought to be imaginatively generous. But his profound ignorance will have caused the deepest offense to all literate and faithful Christians as well as the profoundest grief to those growing scores of thousands of Christians who suffer around the world at the hands of a brutalising Islam that makes them pay the price of loving and believing in Jesus, Son of God and Saviour, with their lives.

Former Swedish Imam Tomas Samuel explains how the Adhan is a statement of Islamic supremacy. In Islamic sources, "we discover that the prayer call states that everyone should submit to Islam and proclaims power over the area of the ​​prayer."

The Adhan is prayed for two reasons: "It will remind people of when it is time to pray, and the prayer call will proclaim Islam over a city," he explains.

Samuel quotes Omdat Al-Ahkam, a fundamental text for Islamic law: "One can liken the Adhan to the Muslim flag. Its proclamation shows that the people of the city are Muslims."

In Arabic, "adhan" means "information" or "enlightenment" — signifying that people previously in darkness and ignorance are now "informed" and "enlightened" about the "true religion" of Islam, to which they must submit. Islam means submission (from the Arabic root "al-Silm" — submission or surrender).

Commentators have explained how reciting the Adhan in churches is a "power play" intended to conquer and sacralize Christian territory. Islamic scholars are engaged in an in-house discussion on whether it is haram (forbidden) or makrooh (offensive) for Muslims to enter churches.

"If your going to the church is just to show tolerance and lenience, then it is not permissible, but if it is done to call them to Islam and create opportunities for you to do so, and you will not be taking part in their worship and you are not afraid that you may be influenced by their beliefs or customs, then it is permissible," declares the Fatwa al-Lajnah al-Daa'imah.

Friday prayers at Ballyhaunis mosque (pictured in this article) have been canceled as a result of the virus. Over 500 Muslims attend Friday prayers regularly at the mosque — the oldest purpose-built mosque in Ireland.

Islam is poised to become Ireland's second-largest religion in the next 10 years. Ballyhaunis is Ireland's most diverse town, according to the 2011 national census, and only 40% are of Irish origin while 60% are immigrants — a significant portion of whom are Muslim.

Church Militant contacted Fr. Farragher and asked him if he was aware of the implications of the Islamic prayer. We also inquired if Pope Francis' Abu Dhabi declaration had inspired him to indulge in this act of combined Muslim-Catholic worship — but received no response as of press time.

Saturday, 11 April 2020

Mainland China's first Mormon temple to open

As reported by Keith Zhai and Tony Munroe of Reuters, April 6, 2020:

The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon church, plans to open its first temple in mainland China at a time when Beijing has been clamping down steadily on religious freedoms.

The temple in the eastern Chinese city of Shanghai will help fill a gap left by renovation work since last July at the church’s temple in Hong Kong, Russell M. Nelson, president of the church, announced on Sunday.

He also said seven other temples would open, including one in Dubai, its first in the Middle East.

“In Shanghai, a modest, multipurpose meeting place will provide a way for Chinese members to continue to participate in ordinances of the temple,” Nelson said.

“Because we respect the laws and regulations of the People’s Republic of China, the Church does not send proselytizing missionaries there; nor will we do so now,” he said.

A former cardiac surgeon, Nelson has spent time in China, studied Mandarin and was granted an honorary professorship by China’s Shandong University School of Medicine.

In January, the church sent two planeloads of protective medical equipment to the Children’s Medical Center in Shanghai to help manage the coronavirus outbreak.

No official figure is available for the number of Mormons in China.

China’s constitution guarantees religious freedom but under President Xi, Jinping Beijing has tightened restrictions on religions seen as a challenge to the authority of the ruling Communist Party.

The government has cracked down on underground churches, both Protestant and Catholic, and has rolled out legislation to increase oversight of religious education and practices.

Chinese law requires that places of worship register and submit to government oversight, but some have declined to register and are known as “house” or “underground” churches.

The Chinese government formally recognizes five religions: Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism.

“Expatriate and Chinese congregations will continue to meet separately. The Church’s legal status there remains unchanged,” Nelson said.

“In an initial phase of facility use, entry will be by appointment only. The Shanghai Temple will not be a temple for tourists from other countries,” he said.

In 2018, the Vatican and China signed an agreement on the appointment of Roman Catholic bishops, a breakthrough on an issue that for decades fuelled tensions between the Holy See and Beijing and thwarted efforts toward diplomatic relations.