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Location: Tallahassee, Florida, United States welcomes all opinions from any religion or viewpoint in the common appreciation of Chick tracts. This blog, however, will highlight religious events and controversies that would be of special interest to regular Chick readers. You don't have to agree with them or each other, but if you read Chick tracts or Battlecry, you might expect these type stories to be addressed. (Sorry, no personal attacks allowed.) All main postings are from writers and any responses are from the public

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ex-Ark Hunter Calls Ark Find "Likely A Hoax"

A former member of the expedition whose sponsors this week claimed to have found the legendary biblical boat buried beneath the snows of Turkey's Mount Ararat says the "discovery" was probably a hoax.

"If the world wants to think this is a wonderful discovery, that's fine," Randall Price, an archaeologist who in 2008 was working with the Chinese-led evangelical team, told The Christian Science Monitor. "My problem is that, in the end, proper analysis may show this to be a hoax and negatively reflect how gullible Christians can be."

Price says that those photos of the supposed ark include cobwebs in the corners of the structure's rafters, "something just not possible in these conditions."

Meanwhile in ark-hunting circles, news of the alleged hoax is being greeted as hardly surprising.

"There are certain biblical artifacts -- like the Ark of the Covenant and the Ark of Noah -- that just seem to bring out a lot of amateur searchers," says Bill Crouse, president of Christian Information Ministries, who has himself spent years searching for Noah's Ark. "My concern is that well-meaning Christians jump the gun, and this thing becomes viral on the Internet. A lot of Christians are confused because they thought the ark was found two years ago, or two years before that. These things seem to come up every two years or so."

In 2006, for example, a national security analyst reported a "new and significant development" in the quest for the ark: a high-resolution satellite image of the northwest corner of Mount Ararat, where ark hunters had long been intrigued by a large, ice-submerged "anomaly" whose proportions seemed to match almost perfectly the Bible's description of Noah's Ark.

In 1993, CBS aired a documentary hailing the discovery of Noah's Ark, also on Ararat. It turned out that "The Incredible Discovery of Noah's Ark" was predicated largely on evidence provided by an actor who later acknowledged having made the whole thing up.

And in a story with strong parallels to the latest hoax, a French explorer named Fernand Navarra claimed to have found a wooden beam from the ark on Ararat in 1955. Navarra's guide, however, later said the explorer had hauled the 5-foot-long plank up the mountain with him. See Chick's KILLER STORM.

Dems Plot For Two More Senate Seats

In an apparent fear of losing the House and Senate in the mid term elections, Democrats in the House passed a bill to encourage Puerto Rico to become a state. The bill favors Statehood, and the Spanish speaking residents poll heavily in favor of Democrats, meaning Dems would gain two more Senate seats and a half dozen or so more representatives in the House. This plan, along with White House efforts to grant Amnesty for illegal aliens, are seen as the Democrats best hope of undermining a backlash from tax payers angry about the recent expansion of government spending and entitlements(including health care).

Puerto Ricans ought to hold a referendum on whether to keep their island a commonwealth or consider statehood, independence or some other status, the U.S. House voted after an impassioned debate today. But the bill was weighted toward statehood. In past votes in Puerto Rico, statehood and commonwealth ran neck and neck, with less support for independence options. But the first vote in the bill's two-step process would pit the current status against all other options combined.

Rep. Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., said the Puerto Rican people have not requested Congress to intervene. "This is a disgrace." she said.

The bill, which has not yet been voted on in the Senate, sets up a two-step process. Puerto Ricans would first vote on whether to keep the status quo. If they voted for change, they would then choose among statehood, independence and becoming an independent nation in "free association" with the United States. Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, for instance, have free-association relationships with the U.S. that make them independent but have agreements in place for U.S. defense and economic aid.

The bill doesn't bind Congress to accept Puerto Rico as a state. And it doesn't say how large a majority of Puerto Ricans are needed to choose a new political status. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said Congress ought to require that two-thirds of residents approve before statehood is allowed.

"You don't want to get married to someone who is only 51 percent sure, for goodness sakes," Chaffetz said.

See Chicks "Are Roman Catholics Christians?"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Ark Discovered?

After 4,800 years, the mystery is over at last: Noah's Ark has been found, and it's sitting 13,000 feet above sea level near the peak of Turkey's Mount Ararat.

At least, that's what an evangelical Christian organization calling itself Noah's Ark Ministries International is now trumpeting with near-total certainty.

"It's not 100 percent that it is Noah's Ark, but we think it is 99.9 percent that this is it," Yeung Wing-Cheung, a filmmaker who was part of the 15-member team that recently unearthed the presumed remains of the ark, told Fox News.

Carbon dating of the seven wooden compartments discovered beneath the snow on Mount Ararat -- long thought by believers to be the ark's final resting place -- shows they are about 5,000 years old, the group says. That would put its construction at right about the time the Bible says God flooded the earth, instructing Noah to save himself, his family and two of every animal species aboard a floating ark.

News of the find has the Web buzzing, with excitement among the faithful being tempered by skepticism from other quarters. This, after all, is not the first time the legendary ark has been "discovered":

In 2006, a national security analyst reported a "new and significant development" in the quest for the ark: a high-resolution satellite image of the northwest corner of Mount Ararat, where ark hunters had long been intrigued by a large, ice-submerged "anomaly." Not only was the anomaly thought to be the site of the ark's landing, but its proportions seemed to match almost perfectly the Bible's description of Noah's vessel. Despite the similarities, other observers argued the anomaly was an oddly shaped rock formation, or even just shadows.

In 1993, CBS aired a documentary hailing the discovery of Noah's Ark, also on Ararat. It turned out that "The Incredible Discovery of Noah's Ark" was predicated largely on evidence provided by one George Jammal, who later acknowledged having made the whole thing up, "discovering" his small wooden bits of ark along some California railroad tracks.

In 1955, a French explorer named Fernand Navarra claimed to have found a wooden beam from the ark on Ararat. His report was buoyed by a Spanish forestry organization that dated the beam at 5,000 years old. But Navarra's guide on the ascent later said the explorer had hauled the 5-foot-long plank up the mountain with him.

In the 1930s, a German newspaper published an April Fools' Day story citing a successful ark-hunting expedition that included one academic from "Yalevard University" and another named "Prof. Stoneass." The story was later translated and reprinted in a Russian newspaper. In the early 1970s, the American ark enthusiast Eryl Cummings investigated the theory that the story was, in fact, authentic, and the silly names simply translation errors.

And Noah's Ark is far from the only biblical artifact that continues to spur excitement and debate. Consider the Shroud of Turin, a linen that some believe was laid over Jesus' body at the time of his burial, or the supposed discovery of the Garden of Eden last year in Kurdistan.

It's no surprise then, that we've seen a number of biblical hoaxes, too. For instance:
In 1990, a silver cross bearing an early Christian symbol was discovered in the United Kingdom. The Chi-Rho Amulet was thought to be among the most significant of early Christian finds until, in 2008, an inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry test determined that it was, in fact, a fake dating from the 19th century.

The trial of an accused Israeli forger has dragged on now for three years after accusations he knowingly put forward a forged ossuary bearing the inscription "James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus." Many scholars have pronounced the limestone bone box a fraud, though some still proclaim its authenticity. The jury, as it were, is still out. See Chick's KILLER STORM.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Islam Fundys Gas Girls

For girls in Afghanistan, getting an education has always been difficult, if not impossible. But their struggle appears worse than ever recently as a series of poison gas attacks on girls' schools has sent at least 88 girls, some as young as 7, to the hospital.

The attacks in Kunduz province, in the north of the country, come amid heightened Taliban influence in the region, raising fears that ultra-conservative elements in society are becoming bolder in their efforts to exert influence over social behavior. But no military defeat of the Taliban is likely to banish even violent opposition to female education, which has deep cultural roots in a large part of the country.

It's still unclear whether the attacks were intended to kill or only terrorize female students into staying home. Girls at the schools reported seeing fellow classmates fall unconscious after smelling a strange gas in the air and then succumbing themselves.

Similar attacks a year ago also hospitalized dozens of female students, but all recovered. A police officer in Kunduz, requesting anonymity because he is not authorized to talk to the media, says the investigation is focusing on criminal elements rather than the Taliban, who in a statement to the media condemned the attacks. "This is the act of miscreants who just don't like the idea of girls being educated," the police officer says. See Chick's THE SKYLIGHTER.

Muslims Try to Punish Graham More

A Muslim civil liberties group urged Congress to disinvite evangelist Franklin Graham from a prayer event, just days after the Pentagon booted the minister from another gathering because of his anti-Islam remarks.

Graham is scheduled to attend the congressional National Day of Prayer event on Capitol Hill on May 6. He was to have led services at the Pentagon the same day but was told last week that he was no longer welcome after Army leaders decided his comments that Islam is a "very evil and wicked religion" were a problem. Graham refused to back down, saying on Fox News that Muslims were "enslaved" by their beliefs.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations "supports the desirable goal of bringing Americans, regardless of their faith traditions, together in prayer," said Corey Saylor, the group's national legislative director. "However, a congressional prayer observance should reflect the best of our nation's ideals. Speakers such as Franklin Graham reflect a message of religious intolerance, rather than the more American message of differing faiths united in shared support of our nation's founding principles."


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fundy Islam Declares Music Evil

Last week, the Somalian fundamentalist Islamic group Hizbul Islam announced that music of any kind is "un-Islamic," warning of "serious consequences" for those who dare to violate their decree. In response, radio stations all over the country, including those run by the moderate Muslim transitional government, cut all music from their broadcasts. Even intro music for news reports was scrapped. In its place? "We are using sounds such as gunfire, the noise of vehicles and the sound of birds to link up our programmes and news," said one Somalian head of radio programming.

Somalia has been wracked with inter-tribal violence for nearly two decades. In the last few years, increasingly radical Muslim militants, including the dominant Shabab group, have taken over large parts of the country and become closely affiliated with al-Qaeda. A moderate Muslim transitional government, helmed by a former teacher named Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, controls a small part of the country. His government is largely propped up by African Union peacekeepers, with United Nations' and U.S. support.

The music decree follows a string of fundamentalist decrees, including prohibitions on wearing bras (also "un-Islamic"), the banning of modern movies and news channels, including the BBC and Voice of America. See Chick's SKYLIGHTER.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Atheists scheme to have Pope arrested

Atheist campaigners are planning a legal ambush to have Pope Benedict XVI arrested during his state visit to Britain over his alleged coverup of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.

Authors Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens argue that the pope should be arrested when he visits Britain in September and put on trial "for crimes against humanity."

The pair believe they can employ the same legal principle used to arrest Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, when he visited Britain in 1998.

The pope will be in Britain Sept. 16-19, visiting London, Glasgow and Coventry, where he will beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman, a 19th century theologian.

The Vatican has suggested the pope is immune from prosecution because he is a head of state. But Dawkins and Hitchens insist the pope would be unable to claim diplomatic immunity from arrest because, although his tour is classed as a state visit, he is not the head of a state recognized by the United Nations.

But Adam Roberts, emeritus professor of international relations at Oxford University, dismissed the bid as a "publicity stunt."

"I am not sure that they have studied carefully the relevant scripture, namely the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

"For an individual to be prosecuted for crimes against humanity there would need to be strong evidence that the relevant acts were 'part of a widespread or systemic attack directed against any civilian population.'

"It is hard to imagine the ICC viewing the various sexual crimes committed by Catholic priests as crimes of the kind that the court was established to tackle."

Last year pro-Palestinian activists persuaded a British judge to issue an arrest warrant for Tzipi Livni, a senior Israeli politician, for offences allegedly committed during the 2008-09 conflict in Gaza.

The warrant was withdrawn after Livni cancelled her planned trip to Britain. See Chick's THE POOR POPE.

Bishop Suspects Jews Behind Pope Attacks

From Times Online April 12, 2010

Bishop Giacomo Babini blames Jews for attacks on Pope

A retired Italian bishop has provoked fury by reportedly suggesting that "Zionists" are behind the current storm of accusations over clerical sex abuse shaking the Vatican and the Catholic Church.

Monsignor Giacomo Babini, the Bishop Emeritus of Grossetto, was quoted by the Italian Roman Catholic website Pontifex as saying he believed a "Zionist attack" was behind the criticism of the Pope, given that it was "powerful and refined" in nature.

Bishop Babini denied he had made any anti-Semitic remarks. He was backed by the Italian Bishops Conference (CEI), which issued a declaration by Bishop Babini in which he said: "Statements I have never made about our Jewish brothers have been attributed to me."

However, Bruno Volpe, who interviewed Monsignor Babini for Pontifex, confirmed that the bishop had made the statement, which was reported widely in the Italian press today. Pontifex threatened to release the audio tape of the interview as proof.

Monsignor Babini’s reported comments follow a series of statements from senior Vatican cardinals blaming a "concerted campaign" by "powerful lobbies" for accusations that Pope Benedict XVI was involved in covering up cases of clerical abuse both as Archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982 and subsequently as head of doctrine at the Vatican.

None has explicitly blamed Jews or any other group. However Bishop Babini, 81, said Jews "do not want the Church, they are its natural enemies". He added: "Deep down, historically speaking, the Jews are deicides [God killers]."

He was quoted as saying that Hitler was "not just mad" but had exploited German anger over the excesses of German Jews who in the 1930s had throttled the German economy.

Pope Benedict, who visited the Rome synagogue in January, has sought to mend Catholic-Jewish relations since last year, when he offended Jewish groups by rehabilitating Bishop Richard Williamson, an excommunicated ultra-conservative prelate who denies that six million Jews died in the Holocaust.

The Pope said he was unaware of Bishop Williamson’s views and demanded that he rescind them.

However, the pontiff has also angered Jewish leaders with his continuing support for the beatification of Pope Pius XII, the wartime Pope who is charged by critics with having turned a blind eye to the Holocaust. Beatification is the step before sainthood. See Chick's HOLOCAUST.

Graham Banned From Army Prayer

The Pentagon disinvited evangelist Franklin Graham from a prayer service next month after facing pressure from a group representing angry Muslim military personnel who complained about his attacks on Islam as an "evil" religion.

Graham, the son of famed minister Billy Graham, was scheduled to speak May 6 at a National Day of Prayer event organized by a Colorado group chaired by Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson. But in a statement released Thursday, Graham said the Army had changed its mind.

"I regret that the Army felt it was necessary to rescind their invitation to the National Day of Prayer Task Force to participate in the Pentagon's special prayer service," Graham said. "I want to express my strong support for the United States military and all our troops. I will continue to pray that God will give them guidance, wisdom and protection as they serve this great country."

Collins said Dobson's group, the National Day of Prayer Task Force, has withdrawn its sponsorship of the event over the flap. Graham is the group's honorary chairman.

"This is as bright a day for the U.S. Constitution and freedoms in this country as it is a dark day for the Islamic extremists we're fighting because their propaganda tool has been taken away," Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, told reporters.

Weinstein added that he hoped the Pentagon would not attempt "a bait and switch" in which another "Islamaphobe" would simply be substituted for Graham. It remains to be seen if Islamic extremists appreciate Weinstein's efforts. Much of the current terrorist threat is motivated by anti-semitism and the desire to remove Jews from Israel.

Graham angered Arabs by saying Islam was "evil" just after 9/11. In 2009 Graham said on CNN, "True Islam cannot be practiced in this country. You can't beat your wife. You cannot murder your children if you think they've committed adultery or something like that, which they do practice in these other countries. ... I don't agree with the teachings of Islam, and I find it to be a very violent religion."

What part the Obama administration played in the decision to turn away Graham is unclear at this point, but it was certainly made aware of the decision before it was announced. See Chick's THE CHAPLAIN.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Rev. Rich Lee On TV

The Rev. Rich Lee (who is president of the Chick Tract Club and a minister in his own right) goes on television tonight in Clearwater, FL. He will appear on a Christian station at midnight, and will likely be involved in the call-in portion of the program as well. The station is WVUP channel 45, but it is also on cable and webcast. He will be featured on "You and Me with Richard Dortch" It can be viewed with Windows Media as well. If you're up them, check Rev. Rich out and see the man LIVE on TV.

Mormon Sect Members Sent To Jail For Child Assault

SAN ANTONIO (April 15) - Two members of a polygamist sect were sentenced to prison Thursday on bigamy charges, the first legal finding of multiple marriages in a community that has mostly dodged questions about the practice.

Lehi Barlow Jeffs pleaded no contest to bigamy and sexual assault of a child in San Angelo, avoiding a trial that had been set for April 26. State District Judge Barbara Walther found that he committed the crimes and sentenced him to eight years in prison.

Walther found that Michael George Emack, who also pleaded no contest, committed bigamy. He was given a seven-year prison term that will run concurrently with a seven-year sentence he received in January for sexual assault of a child.
Yearning for Zion Ranch Raid

Both men belong to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which teaches that plural marriage brings glorification in heaven. Members have been reluctant to talk publicly about such unions, in part because Texas' bigamy statute makes it illegal to even purport to marry more than one person. Many of the FLDS unions are only church-sanctioned, not legally documented, marriages.

Since the raid, five men have been sentenced to prison for sexual assault of a child, all on charges related to underage brides. Seven men, including FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, still face charges ranging from sexual assault to failure to report child abuse.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Kennedy Family Permitted to Veto Freedom of Information

What secrets still remain about one of America's most famous public figures?

Before the FBI releases 3,000 pages of its file on Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy, the family of the late political icon will have a chance to review them and make its case to keep some portions from being made public.

The release of this first installment of Kennedy's file comes in response to several Freedom of Information Act requests made following the senator's death from brain cancer in 2009 at the age of 77.

According to The Boston Globe, the Kennedy family's review of the documents is an "uncommon" privilege and is meant to ensure that the privacy of living people mentioned in the file is not violated.

While neither the FBI nor the Kennedy family has publicly commented on its contents, it's possible the file could shed new light on such events as the 1969 death of Mary Jo Kopechne, the passenger who drowned when Kennedy drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, Mass. He left the scene of the accident (and the woman trapped in the car), and didn't notify police until the following day, making it impossible to prove if he was drunk. See Chick's THE LAST JUDGE.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Evangelist Faces Murder Charges

People who heard traveling evangelist Anthony Hopkins deliver sermons in the rural Southern towns where he preached sometimes called him a psychic or even a prophet. But prosecutors say the former soldier kept dark secrets while spreading God's word. They accuse him of killing his wife, storing her body in a freezer for years and raping and molesting a young female relative.

Opening statements in his trial were expected to start today.

Hopkins, 39, was arrested in 2008 while preaching a rural revival in Clarke County. A teenage relative allegedly pregnant with his baby led police to the body of 36-year-old Arletha Hopkins, a mother of eight ranging in age from an infant to late teens.

Investigators say Hopkins killed his wife in 2004 after she caught him having sex with a female relative, then stuffed her body into a freezer at the home in Mobile he shared with her, six children and two stepchildren.

Nicholas L. Jackson Sr., a pastor of a small black church in Jackson where Hopkins sometimes preached, told a local newspaper in 2008 that many who heard him considered him a prophet with psychic abilities.

"When he told you something was going to happen, you could pretty much count on it," he said.

He described Arletha Hopkins as quiet. Authorities have said the children were home-schooled and largely kept out of sight of neighbors and others in the community. Hopkins told some church associates that his wife had died in 2004 giving birth to their youngest child.

Hopkins was previously arrested in Saraland, near Mobile, in 1998 for being absent without leave from the U.S. Army in Fort Bragg, N.C., from June 15, 1995, until April 6, 1998. It is unclear how military authorities resolved the case and attorneys declined to answer questions about Hopkins' background Monday, saying Circuit Judge John Lockett had ordered them not to discuss the case with media.

Prosecutors have previously said Hopkins has no steady employment record and has ties to Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas and North Carolina through his time in the military and his church work.

He lived in Mobile for about eight years before his arrest, working for about four years as a nurse's aid at a state mental facility and four years at a shipyard. See Chick's REVEREND WONDERFUL.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Obama Attends Easter

For the fifth time since moving into the White House, President Obama attended a church service in Washington, spending part of Easter Sunday with his family and mother-in-law Marian Robinson at the Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church.
The church where the First Family worshipped is in a Washington neighborhood about three miles from where, less than a week ago, four people were killed and five injured when four armed men in a minivan allegedly went on a shooting spree.

The Rev. Dr. Michael E. Bell Sr. said it ``was no accident that he (Obama) is here in light of what happened here last Tuesday,'' referring to the drive-by shootings.

The president's presence was ``helping our community heal,'' Bell said, according to the pool report.

A White House spokesman said "the church was selected because it has more than 50 programs that help the local community, including after-school tutorials and food aid programs." See Chick's REVEREND WONDERFUL.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Abortionist Assassin Sentenced to Life

Defiant in court, a man who murdered one of the few U.S. doctors who performed late-term abortions used his sentencing hearing to do what the judge wouldn't let him do during his trial — justify his crime by describing abortion in gritty detail.

Scott Roeder was sentenced Thursday to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 50 years, the harshest sentence possible under Kansas law for gunning down Dr. George Tiller in the foyer of the Wichita physician's church last May.

"I stopped him so he could not dismember another innocent baby," Roeder said. "Wichita is a far safer place for unborn babies without George Tiller."

Roeder, 52, also was sentenced to an additional year in prison on each of two counts of aggravated assault for threatening two church ushers as he fled. With time off for good behavior, Roeder won't be eligible for parole for 51 years and eight months.

An attorney for Tiller, speaking in court as a friend of the slain doctor, said the toughest sentence would discourage other anti-abortion zealots from attacking doctors. Tiller's widow, Jeanne, cried as the sentence for murder was announced.

"We only can hope that this sentence will serve as a deterrent to those who have conspired and continue to conspire to murder abortion providers," the Tiller family said in a statement. "Certainly everything possible should be done by the prison system to insure that this man does not continue to foment hatred and violence from his prison cell."

District Judge Warren Wilbert could have made Roeder eligible for parole on the murder charge after 25 years. But he said there was evidence Roeder stalked Tiller and added that killing him in a church made the crime heinous because a house of worship is meant to be "a place of peace and tranquility."

Roeder argued he had chosen to obey "God's law" to save babies. "I did kill him. It was not a murder," Roeder said. "If you were to obey the higher power of God himself, you would acquit me."

During the hearing, four of Roeder's friends described him as a friendly, compassionate man who became angry at the state's refusal to stop Tiller's practice. He was motivated by a strong believe that abortion is wrong, not a desire to become famous or lead a movement, they said.