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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

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Easter 2011

Hope everyone had a great Easter! Lotsa candy leftover from yesterday's festivities.

Meanwhile, in New York: The NYPD and Midtown merchants are bracing for another Easter Sunday (or "Gang Initiation Day") wilding session -- with extra patrols and boosted security ready to take on marauding gangs looking to terrorize Times Square and nearby
businesses, officials said last week.

The extra patrols will make for nearly as many cops as picture-snapping tourists, officials said. Three people were shot and 54 arrested in the area last year.

"Easter used to be all about bunnies and chocolate," lamented Maureen O'Lunney, manager of O'Lunney's restaurant, on West 45th Street. See Chick's THE THIEF.

Friday, April 22, 2011

More PC Changes to Bible

U.S. Catholics and Protestants alike are being introduced this Easter season to separate "official" updated translations of the Christian Bible, which arrive in the year the magisterial King James Version celebrates its 400th birthday. But with millions of dollars in publishing revenue and the trust of millions of churchgoers hanging in the balance, the new versions aren't being met with universal acceptance. While the changes may seem small, they are resounding throughout Christianity, whose many denominations formed or broke off from others over clashing interpretations of God's word.

The two new translations touch on some of the most sensitive issues behind those differences, particularly on the inequality of women in society and on the divinity of Mary and — by extension — the birth of Jesus.

'People,' not 'men'
Since its debut in 1978, the New International Version has been the Bible of choice for many evangelical and other Protestant Christians in North America, selling more copies than any other version. But a 2005 gender-inclusive edition called Today's New International Version was widely criticized after some evangelical denominations condemned it as being too liberal.

Members of the Committee on Bible Translation, a nonprofit organization of biblical scholars formed in 1965, hope their latest edition will avoid a similar fate. The new version drops "Today's" from the title and turns the clock back on some of the more controversial choices of the 2005 edition, reviving words like "mankind" instead of "human beings," while still avoiding generic references to "he" and "him."

Mark 1:17, for example, has been translated to read: "'Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will send you out to fish for men.'" The new version changes "men" to "people"; in other verses, "forefathers" are called "ancestors."

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, meanwhile, has thoroughly revised the Old Testament in its New American Bible, similarly changing many generic references to "mankind" in favor of gender neutrality. It also adopted language intended to "more clearly express the meaning of the original," it said — like changing "booty" to "plunder" or "spoils of war," because "booty" has a different, decidedly unbiblical meaning nowadays.

Most controversial is its revision of Isaiah 7:14 to predict that the messiah will be born to a "young woman," not to a "virgin," a characterization that some critics say casts doubt on the miraculous nature of Jesus' birth.

The conference of bishops explained that it had concluded that the original Hebrew ("almah") more accurately meant "maiden" or "young woman" and pointed out that several other modern translations agree, including the Revised Standard Version, the monumental 1950s translation that was the basis for many of the Protestant revisions in use today.

Unlike the New International Version, which can be used in evangelical and other Protestant services, the latest New American Bible isn't yet approved for use in the Catholic Mass, the bishops conference said, because only the Vatican can grant such approval — a process that can take years. It will nonetheless be highly influential in the United States as a study Bible officially approved by the U.S. bishops, who said it would replace the current version as the official text on the conference's website later this year.

Ancient accuracy in today's world
Translators of both new versions said the goal was to strike a balance between sometimes conflicting imperatives: fidelity to the original Greek and Hebrew texts, and readability that honors the sensibilities of a 21st-century audience.
New words in the old Word. Examples of changes between the New International Version Bible's 1984 translation and the 2011 translation:

Matthew 6:24
• NIV 1984 — No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
• NIV 2011 — No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Mark 1:17
• NIV 1984 — "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."
• NIV 2011 — "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people."

Luke 21:16
• NIV 1984 — You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.
• NIV 2011 — You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death.

John 3:5
• NIV 1984 — Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit."
• NIV 2011 — Jesus answered, "Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit."

"We have to be very careful about how we go about this, because we don't want to change the word of God easily or quickly," said Douglas J. Moo, chairman of the New International Version translation committee.

"But precisely because the Bible is a timeless document, we want it to speak to every generation of people, and as English changes and we learn more about the world of the Bible, we want to be able to put the Bible into the English that people are actually using," said Moo, a New Testament scholar at Wheaton College, a leading evangelical university in Illinois.

Not everyone thinks the committee got it right.
Deanna Brown, owner of Parable Christian Book Store in Kennewick, Wash., declined to stock the new version, saying it was "just too controversial."

Mary Beth Cain, a customer at the store, agreed with the decision, saying the new version's issues with gender and language were "really obscuring the real truth we need to focus on — that salvation is in Jesus Christ." But Chip Brown, senior vice president of Bibles for Zondervan, the division of HarperCollins Publishers that has exclusive rights to publish the New International Version in North America, predicted that it would be "the translation of choice for millions of people around the world who want to read and understand Scripture in today's language."

To promote acceptance of the new translation, Zondervan said it would phase out the 1984 update of its popular 1978 version of the book, which many churches have continued to use during the translation controversies. That means no more copies will be printed to continue stocking the pews for denominations like the Southern Baptist Convention, which rejected the 2005 modernization and stuck with the 1984 version.

The SBC — the nation's largest non-Catholic denomination — hasn't said yet what it will do. However, the Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood has already said it will reject the latest New International Version, largely because of "over 3,600 gender-related problems" it had identified.

"Our prayer is that evangelicals will continue to be very discerning with regard to the Bibles that they purchase and will utilize those translations that are the most accurate," the council said in a statement. See David Daniel's new book (by Chick Publications) LOOK WHAT'S MISSING.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sex Customer Bursts Into Flames

For seven years, Roger Huang, a pastor who runs a rescue mission in San Francisco's Tenderloin district, has been trying to shut down the sex shops there. This week he may have seen a sign that his efforts are working.

On Wednesday, a man burst into flames while inside one of those porn shops, police said.

Could this bizarre incident be attributed to a higher power?

Jeff Costello, AOL News
An employee smokes in front of the Golden Gate Adult Superstore in San Francisco.

"I believe so. I definitely believe so," Huang told journalists, adding that he hopes the unidentified man is recovering from the burns.

The police aren't ruling anything out.

"We don't know what caused it," Lt. Troy Dangerfield of the San Francisco Police Department told AOL News. "It's still under investigation."

Witnesses reportedly saw the burning man running out of the Golden Gate Adult Superstore in the city's South of Market neighborhood at about 6:20 p.m. Wednesday. The man ran past stunned onlookers and collapsed at the corner of Mission and Sixth streets, police said.

"There was an ambulance crew that was in the area -- a private ambulance company -- that witnessed this person collapse, so they [extinguished the flames and] called it into the dispatch center," San Francisco Fire Department spokeswoman Mindy Talmadge told AOL News.

The man, whose name has not been released, was taken to the burn center at St. Francis Memorial Hospital, where he is being treated for first-, second- and third-degree burns that reportedly cover 90 percent of his body.

"He suffered life-threatening injuries," Dangerfield said, adding, "He's still recovering."

According to KTVU, an employee said the man had been watching a film in the back of the store when he suddenly ran out screaming and on fire.

Contacted by AOL News today, a man who answered the phone at the sex shop declined to discuss the incident. "I don't know nothing about it," he said.

Talmadge said a fire investigator is still looking into the case. Oddly, she said authorities have found "no damage to the inside of the building at all."

So who knows what caused it?

"I don't know if you believe in prayer," Huang said, "but ... the last seven years, every August, I go to every store and pray that it [will] be closed down. We have had seven or eight that have been closed down ever since." See Chick's CAUGHT!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Chick tracts on eBay nearly reaches $1 Grand

A collection of 250 Chick tracts sold on eBay for $936.66. The lot was made up mostly of older titles and variations, and included THE THING, SATAN'S MASTER, KINGS OF THE EAST (the last two titles are permanently out of print).

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Vatican Sanctions Belgian Bishop for Abuse

The Vatican has sanctioned a Belgian bishop who resigned last year after admitting he had sexually abused his nephew, saying he can no longer act as a priest in public and may risk further church sanctions.

The Vatican on Tuesday clarified the punishment against the former Bruges Bishop Roger Vangheluwe after Belgian bishops reported over the weekend that he had merely been sent outside Belgium for spiritual and psychological counseling.

The decision was the first known application of the Vatican's new sex abuse norms approved last year giving the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith jurisdiction to investigate and punish bishops and cardinals who abuse minors, with possible defrocking as the ultimate penalty.

The Vatican has long been accused by sex abuse victims of having let bishops off the hook, despite having abused minors, or helping to cover up the crimes of their priests who did. The change in the norms was designed at least in theory to let the Congregation more easily go after abusive bishops.

The pope has the final say on Vangheluwe's punishment. In a statement, the Vatican's press office said Pope Benedict XVI would eventually decide on a sentence based on Vangheluwe's diagnosis and prognosis from psychological treatment he is receiving, and also take into account "the suffering of the victims and the need for justice."

Vangheluwe resigned a year ago this month as Belgium's longest-serving bishop after admitting he had abused a young boy for years as a priest and even after becoming a bishop in 1984. It later was established that the victim was his nephew.

Revelations of Vangheluwe's abuse came amid the 2010 global eruption of the sex abuse scandal, when thousands of people came forward in Europe and beyond with reports of priests who had abused them, bishops who covered up for the prelates and Vatican officials who ignored the crimes for decades.

The crisis was particularly acute in Belgium, where in the weeks following Vangheluwe's resignation a church-appointed commission reported that hundreds of people had come forward with tales of abuse that had led to at least 13 suicides.

The revelations prompted Belgian police to raid the home and offices of Belgium's former top churchmen and open the tombs of two archbishops north of Brussels in a search for hidden documents — moves that drew the stern condemnation of the Vatican. See Chick's ALBERTO.

Crucifixion Nails Found?

Controversial journalist Simcha Jacobovici says he may have found the nails that were used to crucify Jesus more than 2,000 years ago.

He chronicled his Indiana Jones-type search in a new documentary called "The Nails of the Cross," which was screened today at a news conference in Jerusalem and will be broadcast in the U.S., Canada and Israel in the coming weeks.

Jacobovici presented two first-century Roman nails that were bent "in a way that is consistent with crucifixion." He contends that these are the same nails found in the burial tomb of Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest who is associated in the Gospels with the crucifixion of Jesus, although he found them at a lab in Tel Aviv University.

Lior Mizrahi, Getty Images
Canadian-Israeli film director Simcha Jacobovici holds one of two nails he believes were used in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Israeli archaeologists discovered the tomb of Caiaphas in 1990. In the tomb were 12 ossuaries, small stone coffins used to store bones. Two of the ossuaries had inscriptions with the name Caiaphas, and scholars believe the tomb does belong to the family of the high priest.

In the Israel Antiquities Authority's report on the discovery, they mention two 8-centimeter iron nails that were found in the tomb. One was discovered on the ground; the other was inside one of the ossuaries and had limestone residue from the ossuary. Around the same time, Tel Aviv University received a delivery of two nails that fit the description; Professor Israel Hershkowitz, a researcher in bio-history, put them in a safe there.

"Based on the size, shape and condition of the nails, it is possible that these were used in crucifixion," Hershkowitz says in the documentary.

Jacobovici has won three Emmys and hosts "The Naked Archaeologist," which airs on the History Channel. He says he spent two years tracking down the nails.

"There were two nails discovered in Caiaphas' tomb that went missing, and two nails that showed up at Tel Aviv University that match the description and the time period," Jacobovici told AOL News today. "I can't say 100 percent that these are THE nails used in the crucifixion, but I connected the dots, and it's certainly possible."

While nails are frequently found in residential areas, they are rarely found in tombs.

"I can think of only one other site, in Jericho, where iron nails were found in a Second Temple area Jewish tomb," said Israeli archaeologist Gaby Barkay of the Hebrew University. "And we excavated more than 1,100 caves."

How the nails got lost is not clear. In the film, Gideon Avni of the Israel Antiquities Authority says that his organization conducts more than 300 excavations a year with tens of thousands of finds, and it is easy to imagine that the nails simply got misplaced.

Since its discovery, the Caiaphas tomb has not been accessible to the public. The tomb was sealed and a park built over the site.

Jacobovici, who was born in Israel but spent much of his life in Canada, is a controversial figure. Eight years ago, he collaborated with James Cameron on a movie called "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" in which he says that a burial site discovered in a Jerusalem neighborhood is the original burial site of Jesus and his family.

The Israel Antiquities Authority, which oversaw the Jerusalem excavation, has its doubts. First of all, officials there said, it's never been proven beyond doubt that the tomb was the burial place of Caiaphas. It also said that nails are commonly found in tombs. See Chick's THE GREATEST STORY.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Shutdown Looms Over Taxpayer Paid Abortions

A U.S. government shutdown 2011 was averted at the last minute Friday night after the House and Senate reached a temporary spending agreement.

The measure, which will keep the government running until Thursday, postponed an impending furlough of some 800,000 federal workers.

Friday's "bridge" agreement calls for $39 billion in short-term spending cuts, and pushes off the contentious issue of abortion funding, which Republicans sought to block.

By Thursday, the House and Senate will schedule votes on a longer-term budget that will carry the government through Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

The news was greeted with a mixture of relief over a crisis averted, and frustration over continued wrangling that will spill into next week. And harsh rhetoric left its mark.

Throughout the afternoon leading up to the midnight deadline, Democrats said abortion funding was a crucial sticking point, as Republicans held fast to their demand to cut off Title 10 "women's health" programs. Roughly 25 percent of Title 10 funds go to Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading abortion provider.

One-third of Planned Parenthood's annual $1.1 billion budget comes from the taxpayers, and Democrats were equally determined to keep the money flowing. Both sides reportedly agreed to vote on the issue separately next week.

Earlier in the day, Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., called the GOP position "extremist ideology" and accused Republicans of "pouting in the corner."

Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., was even more vitriolic.

Speaking at an abortion rally Thursday in Washington, D.C., Slaughter said, “This is probably one of the worst times we’ve seen. ... In ’94, people were elected simply to come here to kill the National Endowment for the Arts. Now they’re here to kill women.”

Chick tract supporters would probably offer a different spin, saying that the liberals are there to kill babies. See Chick's WHO KILLED CLARICE?

Monday, April 04, 2011

Catholic Knighthood Sold for Donations

Senior Catholic Fr Michael Seed admits soliciting charity donations of up to £50,000 for prestigious honors Franciscan Friars ‘appalled’ by MoS disclosures... as Seed admits his actions could be ‘morally wrong’ One of Britain’s most high-profile Catholic priests has admitted arranging papal knighthoods for wealthy businessmen for money.

Father Michael Seed, who regularly celebrated Mass for Tony Blair and his family in Downing Street, now faces questions from his religious order after an investigation by The Mail on Sunday.

The most damaging evidence concerns his attempted cultivation of an Israeli arms dealer, Hezi Bezalel, who was seeking business opportunities in the Balkans.It shows that Fr Seed, a former ecumenical adviser to the Archbishop of Westminster, had ‘agreed’ a papal knighthood for Mr Bezalel before approaching him. In return for a £45,000 donation to charity, Fr Seed said he could also introduce Mr Bezalel to influential Balkan politicians ‘and the man who looks after all arms for the region’. Mr Bezalel declined the offer, saying he did not give to charity ‘under instruction’.

Papal knighthoods are awarded to lay men and women for conspicuous service to the church and society. They are among the highest honours the Pope can bestow. Tonight a source close to Fr Seed’s order, the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, said his superiors were ‘appalled’. Although he failed to solicit funds from Mr Bezalel, at least four wealthy Britons were impressed by his overtures. Fr Seed admitted they made donations to an Archbishop friend’s charity in Serbia to become papal knights.
It was unclear last night if the four, who are each understood to have contributed between £25,000 and £50,000, had done anything else to merit their honor.

Inquiries also reveal that:

Fr Seed gave a £34,000 cheque drawn from his order’s charity bank account to a friend, Chinese businesswoman Xuelin Black, who later paid the money into his personal account. Last night the order said it was auditing accounts over the disclosure. Ms Black, 47, who was made a papal dame by Pope Benedict XVI, is a Tory donor and adviser to the Government’s Big Society project.

Fr Seed is on indefinite leave from his order after claims that he marked the 25th anniversary of his ordination in January with a champagne party at a racy club, with entertainment provided by men dressed as nuns. He lives rent-free in a flat owned by one of his wealthy papal knights in exclusive Dolphin Square in Pimlico, Central London.

Fr Seed, who has taken a vow of poverty, denied profiting from any of the deals. But he agreed that trying to solicit funds from Mr Bezalel could be seen as ‘morally wrong’.

Asked if he thought many would see the deal as an abuse of the papal honors system, he said: ‘Of course I do.’

Fr. Seed not only offered Bezalel knighthood for cash, he also offered access to big clients to sell his arms to. Mr Bezalel was unmoved by Fr Seed’s offer, though he told him on November 21 that his representative in the Balkans ‘will approach you should we need’. Undeterred, Mr Sporn told Mr Bezalel next day: ‘I don’t think you understand the context and nature of Father Seed’s recommendation; so I will spell it out for you. If you Hezi Bezalel make a sizeable contribution to the charitable efforts of His Excellency Eugenio Sbarbaro in Belgrade; then on a diplomatic level you will be introduced to certain heads of state in both Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia. A sizeable contribution is more than $75,000 [£47,000]. The Vatican can open certain doors for you ...’

Mr Sporn tried again soon after. Accusing Mr Bezalel of being ‘short-sighted’, he told him: ‘Within days you could be sitting with the Presidents of Kosovo, Serbia and Montenegro selling them technologies they want and need. To achieve direct access... surely 75,000 is a small fee.’

Later that day, Mr Bezalel replied by email: ‘I don’t like this approach. When I give to charity it’s because I want and not under instruction. I’m trying to be as polite as possible. So please let’s forget about it.’

Admitting the emails were ‘extremely damaging’, Fr Seed said: ‘I regret the language used. It was because I was dealing with Kalman Sporn, who is very blunt. I had to use language that he understood.’ When it was put that he was effectively trying to facilitate a potential arms deal, he replied: ‘I can’t deny that ... it’s terrible.’ But he said all the funds he solicited helped charity in the Balkans. He said donations went to Archbishop Sbarbaro, who then distributed them as he saw fit. ‘At the heart of this is goodness,’ he said.

Britain now has 400 papal knights – an award that Popes have been making since the early Middle Ages. Originally they were conferred to the nobility. But today the Papal Orders of Chivalry are a means for the Holy See to distinguish all those who have served the Church well. British papal knights are traditionally members of the Pontifical Orders of Saint Gregory the Great and Pope Saint Sylvester.Most are Catholics but some come from other faiths. Knights and dames wear their badges suspended from a ribbon on their left breasts at ceremonies. They are entitled to wear a uniform of their order. Dames wear capes. The uniform of St Gregory is dark green, with silver buttons and braiding; that of St Sylvester is black, with gold buttons and braiding. The uniform is accompanied by a cocked hat and dress sword. Those honoured do not have specific obligations. But it is customary to take part in major diocese events like consecrating bishops and ordinating priests. See Chick's BUSTED.

Church of England Minister/ Molester Escapes Justice

A paedophile priest kept his freedom until he died after Sussex Police destroyed his victims’ paperwork.

Two brothers reported the years of sexual abuse they were subjected to at the hands of Reverend Roy Cotton to police in 1996.

But the priest, who had a history of abuse allegations, died a free man in 2006.

When Northamptonshire Police linked Cotton to another case of child abuse that year, officers contacted Sussex Police only to find the file, including vital photographs and other evidence, had been destroyed.

The abused brothers from Eastbourne, John and Gary*, have now won damages from the Diocese of Chichester in recognition that the Church of England did not act to stop Cotton and accomplice Reverend Colin Pritchard abusing them when they were choirboys in the 1970s and 1980s.

Former Bexhill vicar Pritchard was jailed in 2008 but Cotton had died two years before the case came to court.

John said: “Cotton could have been convicted and he wasn’t. He died instead and I do feel cheated of justice.

“I didn’t know at the time that Cotton had a previous conviction for sexual assault on a child but it would appear neither did Sussex Police.

“One thing which is for certain is the church did know.”

John and Gary had originally approached Sussex Police to say they had been abused but the Crown Prosecution Service decided in 1999 that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Cotton.

Officers told the brothers the case would be left on file so it could be reopened if any other evidence was found.

But when Northamptonshire Police launched its own investigation and contacted Sussex Police seven years later, the file had been destroyed.

The brothers' solicitor, Tracey Emmott(COR), said: “How could the police have simply destroyed the file on such a sensitive issue when they had said they intended to keep it open?

"Because Roy Cotton had died the brothers didn't get the justice they deserved."

Ms Emmott said Cotton and Pritchard were believed to have abused many more boys and urged victims to come forward.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said that until 2010, national police policy under the Data Protection Act was to destroy information relating to individuals after seven years.

The force was unable to find details of the brothers’ case or any officers involved despite spending three days looking for it.

A spokesman said: “Because of the Ian Huntley case there has been a change in policy.

“Since this case took place there has been a clear policy change.”

Perv. Priest Sues Victim

A defrocked priest filed a defamation suit yesterday against the former seminarian whose abuse allegations led to his ouster from the clergy.

Former Monsignor Charles Kavanagh -- the highest-ranking New York cleric caught up in the Catholic Church sex scandal -- says Daniel Donohue repeatedly lied to reporters to extract a "monetary settlement from the New York Archdiocese."

Kavanagh's Manhattan federal-court suit demands unspecified damages from Donohue.

Court papers cite more than a half-dozen damning newspaper headlines, noting that Kavanagh was "held up to ridicule and scorn . . . when he was labeled a 'Pervert Priest' in The Post."

Neither The Post nor any other news organizations are named as defendants.

Kavanagh, 73, formerly the archdiocese's chief fund-raiser, was convicted in a 2006 canonical trial of committing two lewd acts against Donohue between 1978 and 1982, when the accuser attended Cathedral Preparatory Seminary in Manhattan.

The once-powerful priest was booted from the pulpit when the verdict was upheld by a church appeals tribunal last year, with Archbishop Timothy Dolan saying, "I would like to take this occasion to renew our apologies to all those who have been harmed by the sin and crime of sexual abuse, and in particular to the gentleman who was the victim in this case."

See Chick's HOME ALONE.