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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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mega Church Preacher to Star in Reality Show

Houston megachurch leader Joel Osteen will soon be coming to a television near you -- this time as the star of his own reality show.

The preacher and his family have partnered with "Survivor" producer Mark Burnett for a show about Lakewood Church's mission trips, the Associated Press reports. The show, which will focus on "people helping people," is expected to air some time in 2012.

Osteen has reportedly been approached for several reality shows in the past, but this one caught his attention, according to the Houston Chronicle.

"We have great respect for Mark and we know that the finished product will not only entertain but will illustrate the generosity and selflessness that is a hallmark of the American people," Osteen told "Entertainment Tonight".

Don Iloff, Lakewood spokesperson, told the Chronicle that the program will have a feel-good premise similar to that of reality shows such as "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

At least one expert says he's not surprised by the pastor's new endeavor.

"In an era where media exposure is the Holy Grail, this is to be expected," Richard Flory, an expert at the American Christianity at the Center for Religion and Civic Culture at USC told the Chronicle.

Osteen currently hosts weekly religious broadcasts that reach around 200 million homes.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gov. Shumlin Increases HIs Judicial Influence With New Gay Judge

Often considered a pioneer in terms of its legislative approach to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, Vermont made gay history yet again yesterday by swearing in a renowned marriage equality activist as the state's first openly gay Supreme Court justice. Gov. Shumlin (a Democrat) appointed liberal lesbian Beth Robinson to his state's highest court. As with the decision to allow gay marriage in the state, the appointment prevents any public vote on the issue.

Robinson has no experience as judge but is a trusted political ally of the governor, who she served as legal council. She is known to support the Governor's liberal vision for the state.

Beth Robinson replaces Justice Denise Johnson, who is retiring, according to a press release. Robinson, 46, is a civil rights advocate who helped represent three couples in a landmark 1999 state Supreme Court decision that prompted the Legislature in 2000 to make Vermont the first state to offer marriage-like benefits to same-sex couples, the Associated Press reports. In addition, she worked actively to promote Vermont's marriage equality law, which the legislature passed (with no public vote) in 2009. See Chick's THE TRIAL.

Barney Frank Quits For 2012

Openly gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) will not seek reelection in 2012.

CNN has confirmed the news with the Democratic congressman's office. Frank addressed his decision to forgo running for another term at a press conference at a press conference in his hometown of Newton, Mass.

Frank said he originally intended to run for one more term, but that his decision was partially due to the fact that the state's new redistricting map will include many people he has never represented before. For nearly three decades, Frank had been protected from moderate and conservative election threats by a district drawn up by Democrats.

Frank said he has had a "busy and stressful" four years dealing with financial reform after the recession. He is credited with passing the reforms, but critics point out it was his direct involvement with Fanny Mae that led to the crisis in the first place. His boyfriend was put on the board of Fanny Mae, and Frank actively prevented lawmakers from reigning in the government insured bank from making risky loans in red-lined areas. Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac were the two most expensive bank bail outs in 2008, costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. Frank, however, denies the sweat-heart deal had any effect on his campaigning to prevent earlier reforms.

Now Frank says he plans to write and stay involved in public policy decisions.

Sixteen other Democrats have announced plans not to seek new House terms in 2012, compared with six Republicans.

The Boston Globe reported earlier that according to a close adviser to Frank, the new congressional district in which the Massachusetts Democrat would have run to represent was a big factor in his decision to retire.

While it retained his Newton stronghold, it was revised to encompass more conservative towns while Frank also lost New Bedford, a blue-collar city where he had invested a lot of time and become a leading figure in the region’s fisheries debate.

Frank was first elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980. He was one of the first lawmakers to announce publicly that he is gay. He is considered one of the most controversial lawmakers in Congress, and leading voice of gay activism there.

More than two decades ago, Frank was reprimanded by the House for using his congressional status on behalf of his boyfriend, a male prostitute whom he had employed as a personal aide, including seeking dismissal of 33 parking tickets.

"I should have known better. I do now, but it's a little too late," Frank said at the time.

Democrats rebuffed Republican calls for Frank's expulsion, and instead, the Massachusetts Democrat resumed a career that far outlasted many of those who had sought his ouster. His "safe" district all but guaranteed he would return year after year. Once the lines to that district were changed, however, Frank saw an uphill battle that he could not win.

See Chick's SIN CITY.

Nigeria Passes Anti-Same Sex Marriage Bill

Nigeria's Senate voted Tuesday to criminalize gay marriage, gay advocacy groups and same-sex public displays of affection, the latest African legislation reacting to pro-gay legislation in white countries.

The bill, now much more wide-ranging than its initial draft, must be passed by Nigeria's House of Representatives and signed by President Goodluck Jonathan before becoming law. However, public opinion and lawmakers' calls Tuesday for even harsher penalties show the widespread support for the measure in the deeply religious nation.

"Such elements in society should be killed," said Sen. Baba-Ahmed Yusuf Datti of the opposition party Congress for Progressive Change, drawing some murmurs of support from the gallery.

Gay sex has been banned in Nigeria, a nation of more than 160 million people, since colonial rule by the British. Gays and lesbians face open discrimination in a country divided by Christians and Muslims who almost uniformly oppose homosexuality. In the areas in Nigeria's north where Islamic Shariah law has been enforced for about a decade, open gays and lesbians can face death by stoning.

Under the proposed law, couples who marry could face up to 14 years each in prison. Witnesses or anyone who helps couples marry could be sentenced to 10 years behind bars. That's an increase over the bill's initial penalties, which lawmakers proposed during a debate Tuesday televised live from the National Assembly in Nigeria's capital Abuja.

Other additions to the bill include making it illegal to register gay clubs or organizations, as well as criminalizing the "public show of same-sex amorous relationships directly or indirectly." Those who violate those laws would face 10-year imprisonment as well.

The increased penalties immediately drew criticism from liberal human rights observers.

"The bill will expand Nigeria's already draconian punishments for consensual same-sex conduct and set a precedent that would threaten all Nigerians' rights to privacy, equality, free expression, association and to be free from discrimination," said Erwin van der Borght, the director of Amnesty International's Africa program.

Yet across the African continent, many countries already have made homosexuality punishable by jail sentences. Ugandan legislators introduced a bill that would impose the death penalty for some gays and lesbians, though it has not been passed into law two years later.

Nigeria's proposed law has drawn the interest of European Union countries, some of which already offer Nigeria's sexual minorities asylum based on gender identity. The British government recently threatened to cut aid to African countries that violate the rights of gay and lesbian citizens. However, British aid remains quite small in oil-rich Nigeria, one of the top crude suppliers to the U.S.

A spokesman for the British High Commission in Nigeria declined to comment Tuesday, saying officials wanted to study the new version of the bill first.

The opinion of gay activists didn't seem to trouble lawmakers, who at times laughed at each other during the debate. One senator worried the bill would hinder the tradition of Nigeria's Igbo ethnic group in the southeast to have infertile wives "marry" other women to carry their husbands' children. Another said gays suffer from a "mental illness."

Senate President David Mark at one point started laughing when a senator proposed 40-year prison sentences for gay couples who marry.

"Forty years, that is just too much," he said. "He won't come out alive now."

Before the vote, Mark did acknowledge the nation likely would face criticism. However, the lawmaker said Nigeria would not bow to activist pressure on any legislation.

"Anybody can write to us, but our values are our values," Mark said. "If there is any country that does not want to give us aid or assistance, just because we hold on very firmly to our values, that country can (keep) their assistance. No country has a right to interfere in the way we make our own laws."

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pope Sued For Seatbelts

It turns out not even the Pope is infallible when it comes to seat belt safety.

A German citizen has filed a lawsuit against Pope Benedict XVI after spotting the leader traveling in the Popemobile without a safety belt during his September visit to the German town of Freiburg, according to the International Business Times. The man from Dortmund is urging the Pope be fined 2,500 euros (about $3,307) for disobeying the rules requiring safety belts.

An English translation of a report in the Westfalischen Rundschau newspaper reveals the suit states the Catholic figurehead, identified as Joseph Ratzinger, did not wear his seat belt on several occasions for an extended period of time, according to The Local.

Freiburg has confirmed that a lawsuit had been filed, the Dogan News Agency reports. Attorney Johannes Christian Sundermann placed the complaint on behalf of the citizen.

The lawsuit calls Baden-Wurttemberg Minister-President Winfried Kretschmann and Archbishop Robert Zolltisch as witnesses to the incident, the International Business Times reports.

However, it remains unclear whether the Pope would be held accountable to the law because of his German citizenship or if "he enjoys diplomatic immunity as the head of a foreign state," according to the Religious News Service.

The Popemobile, which travels at an average speed of about 6 mph, contains seat belts, Sky News points out. The person who filed the suit is reportedly not Catholic.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

NBC Apologizes for Trashing Bachmann (Sorta)

Born Again Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) apparently isn't happy with the apology she received from NBC after a vulgar song was played during her recent appearance on "Late Night" with Jimmy Fallon.

As Bachmann walked onstage, the show's band, The Roots, played a 1985 Fishbone song titled "Lyin Ass B----."

Before the show, Roots drummer Questlove tweeted, "aight late night walkon song devotees: you love it when we snark: this next one takes the cake. ask around cause i aint tweeting title."

Bachmann called the incident "inappropriate, outrageous and disrespectful," and accused NBC of liberal bias. "This wouldn't be tolerated if this was Michelle Obama. It shouldn't be tolerated if it's a conservative woman either," she said on Fox.

According to the AP, the day after she appeared on the show, Bachmann received a letter of apology from NBC's vice president for late night programming, Doug Vaughan, who wrote that the song choice was "not only unfortunate but also unacceptable."

Bachmann spokeswoman Alice Stewart told the AP that Vaughn offered his sincerest apologies and said the band had been "severely reprimanded."

Fallon also apologized to Bachmann via Twitter.

In an interview with KLIF radio in Dallas on Friday, however, Bachmann said that she felt the apology should have come from higher up.

"Of course I accept the apology but my guess is that it would have been the president of the NBC that would have been apologizing not a senior vice president," had the song been directed at a liberal woman like Michelle Obama, she said.

Another Tibetan Monk Burns Himself to Protest China

A man wearing the robes of a Tibetan Buddhist monk set himself on fire in the Nepalese capital to protest Chinese policy in Tibet before the flames were extinguished by people nearby.

The incident was the latest in a rash of such protests by Tibetans in recent months to protest China. (A total of 12 have burned themselves to protest the continued occupation of their country by Chinese Communists.)

Chodon Lama said the protest took place at the holy Buddhist stupa of Boudhanath, in an area of eastern Katmandu where most of the local Tibetan exiles live.

Police official Shyam Gyawali said the man fled after the incident and police were searching the surrounding neighborhood to locate him.

Lama said the man was standing next to the stupa, one of Katmandu's most popular tourist sites, when he poured kerosene on himself. He tried in vain to light a match, and when that didn't work, he used one of the nearby devotional lamps to set himself ablaze as he chanted slogans against China, she said.

Police said the man's friends put out the flames, but Lama said that she and other strangers raced to him to extinguish the flames quickly. He didn't appear hurt badly and he quickly fled, she said.

At least 11 people in Tibet have set themselves on fire since March to protest Chinese rule. At least five have died.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei accused Tibetan activists of glorifying and inciting the self immolations.

"In China, the vast majority of religious believers believe such self-immolation cases should be condemned and the majority of the people in the religious field believe that life is precious and should be cherished," Hong said.

The Dalai Lama has said that China's "ruthless policy" was behind the self-immolations. China accuses the Dalai Lama and his supporters of stirring up trouble in ethnic Tibetan areas and encouraging followers to set themselves on fire.

The Karmapa, Tibetan Buddhism's third-ranking leader, asked China on Wednesday to review its policies toward Tibet in the wake of the protests against Chinese restrictions on their religion and culture.

"These desperate acts, carried out by people with pure motivation, are a cry against the injustice and repression under which they live," he said. See Chick's KINGS OF THE EAST.

Vatican Changes Prayers

English-speaking Roman Catholics who haven't been paying close attention to their church bulletins might notice something a little different during services this Sunday.

For decades at the very beginning of Mass, the priest has greeted the congregation by saying "The Lord be with you" and congregants responded: "And also with you." Starting this Saturday and Sunday in the English-speaking world, the response will be: "And with your spirit."

And that's not all: Familiar prayers, both spoken and chanted, have changed and new words like "consubstantial" and "incarnate" now appear. In the Nicene Creed, the affirmation "We believe" has been replaced with "I believe."

The changes are the result of a years-long process to produce an English translation that is closer to the original Latin of the Roman Missal, which the text of prayers and instructions for celebrating Mass. It's the most significant change to the regular worship for Anglophone believers since the upheavals that followed the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

"It's human nature that we're resistant to change," said Monsignor Michael Clay, pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church in Clayton, about 40 miles southeast of Raleigh. "I'm old enough to remember when we went from Latin to English, and that was just a huge change."

Clay likes the new translation, finding it closer to the Latin text that is still the church's official language. But some priests and parishioners have been less enthusiastic, criticizing the new version as too ponderous or distant, and in some cases circulating petitions asking for a delay in introducing the new missal.

The roots of the new translation go back to that epochal council held at the Vatican in the 1960s, which allowed Mass in languages other than Latin. An English-language missal was produced by 1973, but that was intended to be temporary while improvements were made.

In 2001, the Vatican office that oversees worship issued a directive requiring translation of the English missal that would be closer to the Latin rather than to more familiar vernacular speech. Numerous revisions and bishops' meetings eventually produced agreement on the translation being used Sunday. See Chick's ARE ROMAN CATHOLICS CHRISTIAN?

Liberal Governor Stays Execution, Killer Criticizes

A condemned inmate who was scheduled to be executed next month is slamming Democrat Gov. John Kitzhaber for giving him a reprieve, saying the governor didn't have the guts to carry out the execution.

Two-time murderer Gary Haugen had voluntarily given up his legal challenges, saying he wants to be executed in protest of a criminal justice system he views as broken. But Kitzhaber on Tuesday said he won't allow anyone to be executed while he is in office, calling Oregon's death penalty scheme "compromised and inequitable."

"I feel he's a paper cowboy," he said. "He couldn't pull the trigger."

Haugen's criticism reverses his earlier praise of Kitzhaber's decision during an interview with The Oregonian. He told the Portland newspaper that Kitzhaber cited some of the same criticism of the death penalty that Haugen has raised.

After further reflection, Haugen said he came to the conclusion that the governor "basically pulled a coward's move" by acting on his personal beliefs instead of carrying out the will of Oregon voters, who reinstated the death penalty in 1984.

Haugen said he learned of the reprieve when he was summoned from an outdoor exercise break at the state penitentiary and allowed to read the governor's statement.

Kitzhaber called Oregon's death penalty system "a perversion of justice," saying the state only executes people who volunteer. Since capital punishment was legalized 27 years ago, only two people have been executed. Both of them, like Haugen, waived their legal challenges.

Kitzhaber encouraged "all Oregonians to engage in the long overdue debate that this important issue deserves" and said he would ask lawmakers to consider potential reforms during the 2013 legislative session.

The 49-year-old inmate said he plans to ask lawyers about possible legal action to fight Kitzhaber's temporary reprieve, which lasts until the governor leaves office. A Marion County judge had twice signed a death warrant ordering Haugen's execution. The first was reversed when the state Supreme Court intervened; the second was overruled by Kitzhaber two weeks before the Dec. 6 execution.

"I'm going to have to get with some serious legal experts and figure out really if he can do this," Haugen said. "I think there's got to be some constitutional violations. Man, this is definitely cruel and unusual punishment. You don't bring a guy to the table twice and then just stop it."

See Chick's FRAME UP

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

7 Amish Arrested for Cutting Beards

MILLERSBURG, Ohio — The leader of a breakaway Amish group allowed the beatings of those who disobeyed him, made some members sleep in a chicken coop and had sexual relations with married women to "cleanse them," federal authorities said Wednesday as they charged him and six others with hate crimes in hair-cutting attacks against other Amish.

Authorities raided the group's compound in eastern Ohio earlier in the day and arrested seven men, including group leader Sam Mullet and three of his sons.

Several members of the group carried out the attacks in September, October and November by forcibly cutting the beards and hair of Amish men and women and then taking photos of them, authorities said.

Cutting the hair is a highly offensive act to the Amish, who believe the Bible instructs women to let their hair grow long and men to grow beards and stop shaving once they marry. One victim told the FBI he would rather have been "beaten black and blue than to suffer the disfigurement and humiliation of having his hair removed," according to court papers.

The attacks struck at the core of the Amish identity and tested their principles. They are pacifists and strongly believe that they must be forgiving in order for God to forgive them, which often means handing out their own punishment and not reporting crimes to law enforcement.

The attacks had terrorized Amish communities, Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said at a news conference Wednesday.

"You've got Amish all over the state of Ohio and Pennsylvania and Indiana that are concerned. We've received hundreds and hundreds of calls from people living in fear," he said. "They are buying Mace, some are sitting with shotguns, getting locks on their doors because of Sam Mullet."

The sheriff added, "Sam Mullet is evil."

A defense attorney for Sam Mullet said his client would fight the federal charges.

Mullet told The Associated Press in October that he didn't order the hair-cutting but didn't stop his sons and others from carrying it out. He said the goal was to send a message to other Amish that they should be ashamed of themselves for the way they were treating Mullet and his community.

"They changed the rulings of our church here, and they're trying to force their way down our throat, make us do like they want us to do, and we're not going to do that," Mullet said.

U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach said Wednesday that religious differences should be a matter of theological debate, not disputes "resolved by late night visits to people's homes with weapons and violent attacks." He said he did not know how often hate crimes involve intradenominational disputes.

Those arrested include Mullet; his sons Johnny, Lester and Daniel; Levi Miller; Eli Miller; and Emanuel Schrock. The charges carry a penalty of up 10 years in prison.

The men appeared in U.S. District Court in Youngstown on Wednesday afternoon, and Magistrate Judge George Limbert ordered them detained by the U.S. Marshals Service pending hearings next week.

Attorneys for Johnny and Lester Mullet and Levi and Eli Miller said they could not comment Wednesday on the details of the case. Messages seeking comment were left for attorneys representing Daniel Mullet and Emanuel Schrock.

Lawyer Andy Hyde, who represents Sam Mullet in the state case, said Mullet would contest the federal charges but said he didn't know if he would represent Mullet in federal court.

Holmes County Prosecutor Steve Knowling, who filed state charges against five of the same defendants last month, said he would dismiss those counts and let federal prosecutors take the lead in the case.

In the state case, an Amish bishop and his son said they were held down while men used scissors and a clipper to cut their beards.

The seven men were sleeping when the FBI and local police showed up at their homes before dawn Wednesday, the sheriff said. Three men initially refused to come out of their rooms, but all seven were arrested without incident, he said.

An FBI affidavit said Johnny, Lester and Daniel Mullet and Levi and Eli Miller all confessed in early October to taking part in at least a couple of the attacks.

Johnny Mullet told detectives that it was his idea to cut the hair and beards and that he discussed the idea with his father, who gave him the addresses of two victims, the affidavit said.

Lester Mullet told detectives that after two attacks in late September, the men went home and told Sam Mullet what happened. He said his father laughed and called them nuts, the court document said.

Abdalla, the sheriff, said he didn't know the specifics of the religious disagreements that prompted Mullet to form his own community in 1995.

But the heart of his recent dispute with Amish bishops stemmed from his desire to excommunicate several members, the FBI said. Other bishops concluded the excommunications weren't consistent with Amish teachings and scripture and decided not to recognize the penalties, the FBI said.

One of Mullet's daughters-in-law and a former brother-in-law told investigators that Mullet controls everything that happens within the community outside Bergholz and that he allowed others to beat members of the group who disobeyed him, according to the affidavit filed in federal court Wednesday.

Mullet punished some by making them sleep in a chicken coop for days and was sexually intimate with married women in the community so that he could "cleanse them of the devil," the two said in the affidavit.

Both said they left the community because they did not want to live under Mullet's control.

The FBI affidavit detailed four hair-cutting attacks. The attacks occurred against a couple in Trumbull County on Sept. 6; on Oct. 4 against a man and his son in Holmes County; later on Oct. 4 against a man in Carroll County; and on Nov. 9 against a man allegedly lured to the Mullet complex in Jefferson County.

Authorities said previously that some Amish refused to press charges, following their practice of avoiding involvement of the courts.

Dettelbach alluded to the issue, saying: "It is not the victim's job to decide or to bring charges. I think that's a message I would like people to understand. These charges in this case are the result of our independent determination that crimes occurred."

Stephen Anthony, head of the FBI in northern Ohio, said hate crimes are a priority for the agency.

"The message we'd like to send should be clear that the FBI and all of our law enforcement partners represented here today take civil rights violations very, very seriously," he said.

Ohio has an estimated Amish population of just under 61,000 – second only to Pennsylvania – with most living in rural counties south and east of Cleveland.

They have a modest lifestyle and are deeply religious. Their traditions of traveling by horse and buggy and forgoing most modern conveniences distance themselves from the outside world and symbolize a yielding to a collective order.

School Promoted Gay Behavior is Victim Killed

Only a few hours had passed after 17-year-old Brandon McInerney had pled guilty to the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Lawrence "Larry" King at E.O. Green Junior High School when the media started pointing fingers.

The Los Angeles Times ran a story the same day, November 21, which said that the assistant principal at the school, who is openly gay, had been criticized for being "more intent on protecting King's civil rights" than "acknowledging that his dress and behavior were causing problems."

In a separate piece, also published Monday, the LA Times reported that the murdered teen's mother, Dawn King, had sought the help of school officials in "toning down her son's behavior" just a few days before the shooting. But she was allegedly told by the administration that King had "a civil right to explore his sexual identity."

During his live radio show on November 22, Rush Limbaugh claimed the school's progressive attitude was at fault for King's murder. "He was showing up in school dressed as a woman," Limbaugh said. "So now a confused 17-year-old is dead because the school [said] 'Ah, there's nothing we can do.'"

But Limbaugh had his facts wrong, according to Superintendent Jerry Dannenberg, who told The Huffington Post over the phone on Tuesday that King had not broken the rules of the middle school's dress code, which forbid a male student to wear dresses to school. It's true that Larry King wore heels, makeup, and jewelry to class. But none of these things were against the school's dress policy, said Dannenberg.

Dannenberg also told The Huffington Post that he did not know "for a fact" that King's mother had been rebuffed by school officials when she came to them for help before the shooting occurred.

Brandon McInerney, King's killer, was a Hitler enthusiast who was born to a meth-addicted mother and was beaten by his drug-addicted father.

McInerney was friends with neo-Nazis in the Oxnard area, according to testimony from an investigator. When law-enforcement officials searched his room, they found seven of Hitler's speeches along with a notebook full of "elaborate drawings of Nazi symbols and regalia."

On February 12, 2008, after days of conflict between the two students, McInerney, who was 14 at the time, sat down behind King in computer class around 8:00 a.m. McInerney pulled a .22 caliber handgun from his bag and shot King twice in the head, before dropping the weapon and leaving school grounds.

Neither Limbaugh nor the LA Times stories went into great detail about McInerney's background or his actions. But Limbaugh quoted freely from a Newsweek cover story on Larry King's murder, which was written in the summer of 2008, a few months after the shooting occurred. The Newsweek article described the teen as someone who liked to "slick up his curly hair" into a "Prince-like bouffant," and as someone who "acted out from an early age" and "pushed his rights as far as he could."

But was the school's tolerance of King's flamboyant gay behavior to blame for the fatal shooting on that tragic morning in February of 2008?

There are many who think E.O. Green Junior High, which is located roughly 60 miles west of Los Angeles, in Oxnard, California, isn't progressive enough--that the school should be teaching students to be understanding of a variety of sexual orientations.

"A more inclusive and holistic sex education is needed in our current school system," Luis Guerra told The Huffington Post in an email. Guerra is a Program Manager at the Health Initiative For Youth, a San Francisco-based organization founded in 1992 to educate young people about HIV prevention.

"This is something that sex education could have prevented," he said.

Guerra explained that implementing comprehensive sex education in middle schools can be extremely difficult, because the term "sex education" makes people think of sexual activity among children. But that's not what sex ed is, he said. Good sex ed teaches students about sexual orientation, gender identity and tolerance.

"Middle school is a good time to start addressing gender issues," said Sandi Goldstein, the project director for the California Adolescent Health Collaborative, a statewide coalition of organizations devoted to promoting adolescent health. "Schools can be a safe place to reinforce the fact that not all boys need to conform to the images of men we see in the media."

Dannenberg, the district superintendent, said that E.O. Green does offer sex ed classes, which teach students about "all the FDA-approved kinds of contraception." But the classes are optional, he said, and "don't include anything about gay rights or homosexuality in the curriculum."

In July, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that requires California's public schools to include lessons on the history of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender figures in its social studies classes. The bill does not say at which grade level the lessons should start.

Still, the state of California does not require schools to teach sex ed. It only mandates that HIV/AIDS education be taught to students at least once in middle school and once in high school. See Chick's WOUNDED CHILDREN.

Baptist Teacher Arrested for Sex Abuse

In a case that may lend itself to comparison with the current sexual abuse scandal that has engulfed the Penn State football program, a teacher, two pastors, and a former principal were all arrested Thursday in El Paso County. A grand jury has indicted the teacher for having sexually assaulted a 15-year-old male student at Hilltop Baptist School beginning in 2007, and the other three for covering it up.

According to the indictment, the teacher, 32-year-old Terah Allyn Rawlings, has been charged with eight counts in all: four counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust-pattern of abuse (a class 3 felony), four counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust (a class 4 felony), and obscenity promotion (a class 2 misdemeanor).

KRDO reports the teacher allegedly had a relationship with the boy for two and a half years, beginning when he was 15. Anonymous sources told the station the school covered up the relationship until a staff member called the sheriff against the school's permission.

Hilltop Baptist School's senior pastor, 63-year-old Franklin "Wayne" Knight, was also arrested. Knight is Rawlings's uncle.

Rawlings's father, 57-year-old Raymond "Alan" Knight, the school's former athletic director and associate pastor, has been arrested as well and charge with failure to report child abuse or neglect. The school's Facebook page boasts Alan was the 2011 Division 1A coach of the year.

Jan Ocvirk, the school's former principal, was also arrested. She faces two counts of failure to report child abuse or neglect.

Hilltop Baptist School closed in 2011 due to declining enrollment. See Chick's HOME ALONE.

Vampiress Arrested for Biting Clerk

Denver Police have arrested Emi Leyonia Coleman, 30, in connection to the biting of two people at a convenience store last week.


According to a press release from the Denver District attorney's office, Coleman has been charged with two misdemeanor counts: unlawful sexual contact and third-degree assault. She is scheduled to appear in court on December 16.


Police said that on Monday, Nov. 7 around 10:30 p.m. the vampire-style attack occurred when a woman entered the Barn Store on 4650 Tower Rd. She approached a male customer, took the man's drink and started to drink it, according to Fox31, then backed him up against a counter. Police say, the woman then allegedly committed an act of unlawful sexual contact before biting the man on the neck.

Police say the woman then approached the clerk and asked her for a hug, but when she leaned over the counter, the woman bit her on the neck too before leaving with a white male in a dark-colored sedan.

Alice Gonzalez, the store clerk spoke to 9News about the incident:

I was in shock! Did she really just bite me? I could feel her teeth!

"She latched onto it. She was shaking like a pitbull that just got a piece of steak," Gonzalez described how the woman's teeth felt on her neck to Fox31.

Police spokesman Sonny Jackson jokingly told 9News, "We have no pattern of vampires in the area. This is highly unusual, highly bizarre." See Chick's FIRST BITE.

Happy Chick Tract Day (Nov. 22)

Chick Tract day (Nov. 22nd) went off without a hitch. The Jack Chick Museum of Fine Art celebrated by sending a half a dozen tracts, two Alberto comics, and a Battlecry to the New York Times (who ordered them the day before). Chick tracts get read!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Muslim Mom "Doesn't Know" (Terrorist)

The mother of Jose Pimentel, the alleged al-Qaida sympathizer arrested for plotting to kill US military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as blow up government buildings, is devastated by her son's behavior.

The New York Post reports that Carmen Sosa, speaking through tears to reporters outside her apartment, said, "I don't know what's going on. I just want peace. I just want to say I love him. I didn't raise him that way. He changed."

"I cannot sleep, it's hard for you to know what I've been through," she said, adding, "I don't know him.

"He dropped out of school," she said. "He's had a lot of jobs, but he's not working now."

Pimentel, 27, was arrested by the NYPD Saturday for making explosives.

"We had to act quickly yesterday because he was in fact putting this bomb together," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly at a press conference Sunday night. "He was drilling holes and it would have been not appropriate for us to let him walk out the door with that bomb."

And according to Mayor Bloomberg, Pimentel was "plotting to bomb police patrol cars and also postal facilities as well as targeted members of our armed services returning from abroad."

Kelly described Pimentel as a Muslim convert who talked about changing his name to Osama Hussein to celebrate his fallen heroes, Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.

A Dominican-born US citizen, Pimentel frequently read Inspire, al Qaeda's English-language propaganda magazine, but was not affiliated with the group, and was plotting the terrorist acts as a "lone wolf" according to Bloomberg.

He was a fan of Anwar al-Awlaki, and wrote letters to the American-born radical cleric. When Awlaki was killed by US forces this September in Yemen, Pimentel became more motivated to attack Americans.

"He decided to build the bomb August of this year, but clearly he jacked up his speed after the elimination of al-Awlaki," Kelly said.

Pimentel partially learned how to make explosives from a manual in Inspire called, "How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom," and did in fact live with his mother for a period before she kicked him out due to his extremism.

"The only changes I noticed over the past two years was that he converted to the Muslim faith, "his uncle Luis Serviano, who Pimentel was living with at the time of his arrest, told The Post, adding that his nephew “used to be [a good kid]. But not now."

Relatives say Pimentel, also known as Muhammad Yusuf, converted to Islam two years ago.

House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King (R-N.Y.) said Sunday evening that radicalized Muslim converts like Pimentel are a "growing issue" among counterterrorism officials. King said converts who become radicalized are "sometimes the most dedicated, if you will" to carrying out violent attacks against Western targets.

Pimentel has been denied bail and remains in police custody. He is charged with first-degree criminal possession of a weapon as a crime of terrorism, and soliciting support for a terrorist act. See Chick's THE SKYLIGHTER.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Another U.S. Muslim Arrested For Plotting Terror

An "al-Qaida sympathizer" who plotted to bomb police and post offices in New York City as well as U.S. troops returning home has been arrested on numerous terrorism-related charges, city officials said Sunday.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced at a news conference the Saturday arrest of Jose Pimentel of Manhattan, "a 27-year-old al-Qaida sympathizer" who the mayor said was motivated by terrorist propaganda and resentment of U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The mayor said Pimentel, a U.S. citizen originally from the Dominican Republic, was "plotting to bomb police patrol cars and also postal facilities as well as targeted members of our armed services returning from abroad."

He was under surveillance by New York police who were working with a confidential informant and was in the process of building a bomb; no injury to anyone or damage to property is alleged, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. In addition, authorities have no evidence that Pimentel was working with anyone else, the mayor said.

"He appears to be a total lone wolf," the mayor said. "He was not part of a larger conspiracy emanating from abroad."

Instead, Bloomberg said, Pimentel represents the type of threat FBI Director Robert Mueller has warned about as U.S. forces erode the ability of terrorists to carry out large scale attacks.

Pimentel, also known as Muhammad Yusuf, is accused of having an explosive substance Saturday when he was arrested that he planned to use against others and property to terrorize the public.

The charges accuse him of conspiracy going back at least to October 2010, and include first-degree criminal possession of a weapon as a crime of terrorism, and soliciting support for a terrorist act. He was to be arraigned later Sunday.

"This is just another example of New York City because we are an iconic city ... this is a city that people would want to take away our freedoms gravitate to and focus on," Bloomberg said.

Kelly said a confidential informant had numerous conversations with Pimentel on Sept. 7 in which he expressed interest in building small bombs and targeting banks, government and police buildings.

Pimentel also posted on his website and on blogs his support of al-Qaida and belief in jihad, and promoted an online magazine article that described in detail how to make a bomb, Kelly said.

Among his Internet postings, the commissioner said, was an article that states: "People have to understand that America and its allies are all legitimate targets in warfare."

The New York Police Department's Intelligence Division was involved in the arrest. Kelly said Pimentel spent most of his years in Manhattan and lived about five years in Schenectady.

Asked why federal authorities were not involved in the case, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said there was communication with them but his office felt that given the timeline "it was appropriate to proceed under state charges."

See Chick's MEN OF PEACE?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kid's Store Sells Sex Underwear?

Crotchless panties at a children's store? Nope, we're not kidding:

Erin French, a mom in Greeley, Colo., and her children entered a store this week called Kids N Teen, where French discovered several pairs of crotchless thongs displayed near the selections of kids' merchandise, Colorado's 9 News first reported.

"[The store has] cuddly little backpacks, and pretty little princess dresses," French told the station, after she made the discovery. She captured video of the panties with a cellphone camera.

The owner told the station that the store sells mostly kids' products, but that a small portion of the merchandise is geared toward teens. The shop has since pulled the panties from shelves, 9 News reports.

But it's too late, because news of the kiddie lingerie has already hit the Internet. The Heckler Spray blog wonders: "The owner of Kids N Teen says that 25% of her merchandise is actually for teens, which explains the whole crotchless knickers thing, right? Wait. Are they saying that it is okay for minors to buy crotchless knickers? Is that what's going on here?"

Jezebel points out that the panties looked small in the footage, but "If the underwear that's obviously meant to be used during sex was intended for a 14-year-old's wardrobe, that's a different story." It's hard to argue that adult products like this should be displayed on the counter for teens to purchase at the mall.

This isn't the first time underwear for kids has come under fire for being too provocative. This summer, a French line called Jours Apres Lunes controversially hawked bras and panties for girls ages four to twelve ("filles" and "femmes") and a "loungerie" line for girls ages three months to 36 months ("bebes"). See Chick's BABY TALK.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Catholics Predict a US Hostile to Christians

The mood among many U.S. Roman Catholic bishops was captured in a recent speech by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. His talk, called "Catholics in the Next America," painted a bleak picture of a nation increasingly intolerant of Christianity.

"The America emerging in the next several decades is likely to be much less friendly to Christian faith than anything in our country's past," Chaput told students last week at Assumption College, an Augustinian school in Worcester, Mass. "It's not a question of when or if it might happen. It's happening today."

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meets Monday in Baltimore for its national meeting feeling under siege: from a broader culture moving toward accepting gay marriage; a White House they often condemn as hostile to Catholic teaching; and state legislatures that church leaders say are chipping away at religious liberty.

Many Catholic academics, activists and parishioners say the bishops are overreacting. John Gehring of Faith in Public Life, an advocacy network for more liberal religious voters, has argued that in a pluralistic society, government officials can choose policies that differ from church teaching without prejudice being a factor.

"Some perspective is needed here," Gehring, a Catholic, wrote on his organization's blog.

Still, the bishops see themselves as more and more on the losing side of these disagreements, and they are taking steps they hope will protect the church.

In September, the conference formed a new committee on religious liberty that will meet for the first time this week in Baltimore. Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the conference, will oversee that work, which will include hiring a lobbyist. Picarello had worked for seven years at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a public-interest law firm based in Washington, and also served on an advisory committee for President Barack Obama's Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Among the bishops' top concerns are religious exemptions in states that legalize same-sex marriage. In Illinois, government officials stopped working with Catholic Charities on adoptions and foster-care placements after 40 years because the agency refused to recognize a new civil union law. Illinois bishops are suing the state. In New York, the bishops, along with Orthodox Jewish leaders and others, have complained that the religious exception in this year's law allowing gay marriage is too weak to be effective.

On health care, the bishops have been pressing the Health and Human Services Department during its public comment period for a broader religious exception to the provision in Obama's health care overhaul that mandates private insurers pay for contraception. Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, which broke with the bishops to support the administration's health care plan, said a proposed exemption is so narrowly written it would only apply to "the parish housekeeper."

The conference is also battling the agency on another front: The Health and Human Services Department recently decided not to renew a contract held since 2006 by the bishops' refugee services office to help victims of human trafficking. The American Civil Liberties Union is currently suing to stop the agency from making grants to groups who "impose religiously based restrictions on reproductive health services" for human trafficking victims. The women are often raped and forced into prostitution by their captors.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the bishops, has called the decision discriminatory and a case of "ABC," meaning anyone but Catholics. Agency officials vehemently deny any bias and say the sole criteria for evaluating potential grantees was which group could best serve the victims. Administration officials note that the vast network of Catholic social service nonprofits, including the bishops' conference, receives hundreds of millions of dollars in government funding in amounts that have increased in the last couple of years.

Last week, Obama met with New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the bishops' conference, an administration official said. The independent National Catholic Reporter said the two men discussed issues that have created tension between the administration and the Catholic hierarchy.

The closer focus on religious liberty comes as bishops are becoming more outspoken on preserving the religious identity of Catholic colleges and other institutions, and publicly calling out Catholic politicians and voters who don't follow church teaching on abortion.

Scott Appleby, a prominent religious historian at the University of Notre Dame, says many church leaders have recently adopted "a more pugnacious style, much more of a kind of culture-wars attitude." At the same time, the bishops' have been stung by their loss of public influence from the sex abuse crisis and the years of bruising revelations that many dioceses moved guilty clergy among parishes without alerting parents or police.

"The church no longer receives deference or the hands-off attitude that it once had for many years. That's gone," Appleby said.

Critics of the bishops view the closer focus on religious liberty as another sign that church leaders are turning inward and away from promoting the church's teaching on social justice.

Steven Krueger, national director of Catholic Democrats, pointed to the agenda released ahead of this week's meeting, which included no public discussion of poverty despite the state of the economy. In the 1980s, the bishops issued an influential pastoral letter on Catholic principles and the economy, which church leaders reaffirmed in statements and education programs over the next decade.

"I think this certainly will represent to a vast majority of Catholics a tone-deafness on the part of many, many bishops," Krueger said.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Penn State Scandal Mirrors Chick Tract

The mother of one of Jerry Sandusky's accusers breaks her silence to ABC's George Stephanopoulos, telling how she learned of the former Penn State coach's alleged sexual abuse of her son, his visits to the boy at school and her rage toward school officials for their lackadaisical response to the boy’s serious allegations.

The mother, who did not identify herself, was the first whistleblower on the 67-year-old defensive coach after her son (identified in the Grand Jury's report as Victim 1) told her Sandusky had been inappropriate in his conduct with him; she said her son emphasized how Sandusky used his tremendous influence and status to persuade his alleged child sex conquests.

"I had said, 'You ... should have told me,'" the mother told Stephanopoulos. "He was like, 'Well, I didn't know what to do … you just can't tell Jerry no.'"

The boy said he was just 11 when he met Sandusky in 2005 through Sandusky’s Second Mile program, and the alleged molestation gradually kicked in.

Sandusky, the Grand Jury reported, "indecently fondled Victim 1 on a number of occasions, performed oral sex on Victim 1 on a number of occasions and had Victim 1 perform oral sex on him on at least one occasion."

The mother said when her son told her in detail about the accused pedophile's actions, she "was horrified.

"I was absolutely horrified: I knew some details but I didn't know that it was that, I didn't know it was that bad. It's caused a lot of nightmares, for him and I both."

Sandusky is accused of molesting eight boys over 15 years, from 1994 to 2009. He was arraigned on 40 criminal counts in connection with the accusations, including multiple counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, corruption of minors, endangering the welfare of a child, indecent assault and unlawful contact with a minor, along with single counts of aggravated indecent assault and attempted indecent assault.

Sandusky was "a sexual predator who used his position within the university and community to repeatedly prey on young boys,” Attorney General Linda Kelly said on Saturday when the one-time heir apparent to Joe Paterno was taken into custody and released on $100,000 bail.

In court papers, Victim 1 claims that Sandusky would visit the boy at his school, Clinton County High, and take him out of his classes.

"[I] proceeded to ask him if there was something he needed to tell me, if there was something going on … it wasn't 'till a month later when he indicated he was uncomfortable with leaving the school with him, and [Sandusky] pulling him out of classes at school," she said.

The mother said she was "infuriated" with the school's response, or lack thereof, when she reported her son’s experience with the coach.

"Even if they had the slightest inclination that anything inappropriate was going on it should have been reported, or at least brought to my attention," she said. "I didn't even know he was leaving the school with my child, taking him out of classes -- they never told me that.

The scandal has shaken Penn State to its' very foundation, provoking the mass exodus of a number of officials for their purported inaction when allegations of Sandusky's gay pedophilic tendencies began sprouting up.

Among the firings include head coach Joe Paterno and Penn State president Graham Spanier. Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and vice president for finance and business Gary Schultz both resigned this week after they were charged with perjury, accused of covering up a 2002 assault reported to them in which a witness claimed to see Sandusky raping a 10-year-old boy in the showers of the team's football compound.

The mother said she supports the university’s decision to eliminate those who might have helped cover-up, or turn a blind eye, to Sandusky’s alleged indiscretions.

“They all needed to be gone,” she said, adding Sandusky “needs to be put away -- he needs to be put away for a long time.”

Certain aspects of this scandal mirror one of Chick's controversial tracts, HOME ALONE (where a homosexual coach sexually abuses a boy he is trusted with).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Two Woman Stab Man in Satanic Ritual

Sex, stabbing and satan are all you need for a bizarre crime story.

This one, as reported by WISN, involves a man who traveled from Phoenix to Milwaukee to visit a woman he met online. Once at her apartment, he told police he was tied up and repeatedly stabbed over the course of two days, according to a search warrant.

An affidavit said that police found the unidentified victim bleeding from his neck, arms and back.

The man was taken to a local hospital where medical staff estimated he had been stabbed in excess of 300 times. Police also found bloody duct tape "which was fashioned in a manner that appeared to be a restraint," according to the affidavit.

Rebecca Chandler said she had been having sex with the victim and that the stabbing was consensual, but "got out of hand" according to the affidavit.

Chandler told police that her roommate, later identified by cops as Raven "Scarlett" Larrabee, was responsible for most of the stabbing. Chandler added that Larrabee may be involved in satanic or occult activities, the affidavit said.

WISN reports that the two women have been arrested and are awaiting charges. See Chick's DARK DUNGEONS.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Change in Mass Approaching

Each Sunday for decades, Roman Catholic priests have offered the blessing – "Lord be with you." And each Sunday, parishioners would respond, "And also with you."

Until this month.

Come Nov. 27, the response will be, "And with your spirit." And so will begin a small revolution in a tradition-rich faith.

At the end of the month, parishes in English-speaking countries will begin to use a new translation of the Roman Missal, the ritual text of prayers and instructions for celebrating Mass. International committees of specialists worked under a Vatican directive to hew close to the Latin, sparking often bitter protests by English speakers over phrasing and readability. After years of revisions negotiated by bishops' conferences and the Holy See, dioceses are preparing anxious clergy and parishioners for the rollout, one of the biggest changes in Catholic worship in generations.

"We're tinkering with a very intimate and personal moment," said the Rev. Richard Hilgartner, executive director of the worship office for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. "It's public worship, it's the church's official public prayer, but for the individual faithful, it's one of the primary means of their encounter with the Lord."

The biggest challenge will be for priests, who must learn intricate new speaking parts – often late in their years of service to the church. At an Archdiocese of Newark training at St. Peter the Apostle Church in River Edge, many clergy had just received a final published copy of the Missal, a thick hardcover bound in red, accompanied by an equally dense study guide. Earlier drafts had been available for orientation sessions that have been ongoing for months nationwide.

Many clergy are upset by the new language, calling it awkward and hard to understand. The Rev. Tom Iwanowski, pastor of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Oradell and New Milford, N.J., turned to the section of the new missal that calls funeral rites, "the fraternal offices of burial."

"How can I say those words? It doesn't make sense," said Iwanowski, who has been a priest for 36 years. "It separates religion from real life."

In the new translation, in the Nicene Creed, the phrase "one in Being with the Father," will change to "consubstantial with the Father." When a priest prays over the Holy Communion bread and wine, he will ask God for blessings "by sending down your spirit upon them like the dewfall."

The new missal grew out of changes in liturgy that started with the Second Vatican Council, the 1960s meetings on modernizing the church that permitted Mass in local languages instead of Latin. Bishops in English-speaking countries created the International Commission on English in the Liturgy to undertake the translation. The panel produced a missal by 1973, but that version was considered temporary until better texts could be completed. As the commission worked to make the Mass more familiar in idiomatic English, some of the language strayed from the Latin. Also in some cases, the commission sought to use language that would be gender neutral.

The work took a new direction in 2001, when the Vatican office in charge of worship issued the directive Liturgiam Authenticam, or Authentic Liturgy, which required translations closer to the Latin. The Vatican also appointed another committee, Vox Clara, or Clear Voice, to oversee the English translation, drawing complaints from some clergy and liturgists that the Vatican was controlling what should be a more consultative process. (Cardinal George Pell, the Sydney, Australia, archbishop and chairman of Vox Clara, has called the complaints baseless and ideologically driven.)

The Rev. Anthony Ruff, a Benedictine monk and theology professor at St. John's University in Minnesota, said he was removed last year as head of the music panel of the international translating commission because of criticisms he posted on his blog. In an open letter to U.S. bishops published in the Jesuit magazine America, Ruff cancelled his plans to speak on the text to diocesan priests because, "I cannot promote the new missal translation with integrity."

In South Africa, church officials accidentally introduced much of the new text in parishes ahead of schedule in late 2008, generating similar complaints about ponderous language, although church officials now say most parishioners have adapted.

Jeffrey Tucker, a lay musician at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Auburn, Ala., said he also had concerns about how the translation was handled. Still, he said he found the new missal "extraordinary." The text and music are truly integrated for the first time since the changes from the Second Vatican Council, Tucker said. He has been introducing the new text to lay people and church leaders in recent months, and has found the reaction to mostly be, "Oh, wow.'"

"The language is more accurate, but that is the most boring thing you can say about it. The more important thing about the language is that it's beautiful," said Tucker who is managing editor of Sacred Music, the journal of the Church Music Association of America. "Hardly anything ever good comes out of a committee. This time it did."

Parishes around the United States have spent the summer trying to prepare church members for what's ahead. Priests have been discussing the changes in homilies, in notices in parish bulletins, and in workshops and webinars. Many clergy plan to use poster-sized laminated cue cards for parishioners as the new text is introduced. The introduction of the new text comes on the first Sunday of Advent, just ahead of the Christmas season – a time when infrequent churchgoers attend services.

The Catholic Community at Pleasanton, Calif., which serves 5,000 families in the Diocese of Oakland, has been organizing ministry training sessions and town hall meetings for parishioners to ask questions and express concerns. Mark J. Sullivan, the church music director, said he has seen reactions range from people fully embracing the change to others asking, "Why now?"

"They say, `I've got everything memorized. Why are you messing with it?'" Sullivan said. "If people do get a little nervous, it because things are in a different place, and it is more content, but it's more for great reasons. We've got more to work with."

The Rev. Michael Ryan, pastor of St. James Cathedral in Seattle, started an online petition called, "What If We Just Said Wait," that drew more than 22,000 signatures from clergy, lay people, liturgists and others around the world, who urged a limited, one-year introduction of the new translation followed by an evaluation before the text was adopted across the country.

Despite the protest, Ryan said he has been preparing parishioners for the change and he will be ready to recite the new text on Nov. 27.

"I'm not going to stand apart from the church," Ryan said.


Friday, November 04, 2011

Demons Made Him Do It

A man who stormed into a Carson City IHOP restaurant with an assault rifle was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia as a teenager and feared demons were after him in the months before he killed four people before ending his own life, according to newly released police information.

Eduardo Sencion, 32, was diagnosed in 1999 and declared permanently disabled two years later.

The Carson City sheriff's office detailed the deterioration of his mental state and the law enforcement agency's handling of the Sept. 6 chaos following 85 seconds of terror that left five dead - including three National Guard members - seven injured and a community traumatized.

The new information was first reported by the Nevada Appeal. A presentation was given during a meeting Tuesday in Las Vegas of the Nevada Sheriffs and Chiefs Association, and a copy of the PowerPoint presentation was obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Sencion, 32, was born in Mexico and moved to the United States in 1993. He spoke fluent English, graduated from high school, had no criminal history and was a devout Catholic, authorities said.

Investigators said his family first became aware of mental health issues when Sencion complained about being harassed by co-workers. He sought treatment when his employer told the family he was becoming increasing paranoid.

Family members said Sencion took his medication, and all but one of his mental health commitments were voluntary. The report did not say how many times Sencion was hospitalized.

But Sencion told his family he avoided intimate relationships because he feared "he would father a child and pass along his illness."

He immersed himself in the Bible, and gave his mother keys to his gun safe, warning her he was "getting sick."

He thought people were demons trying to hurt him, and began hearing voices telling him to do "bad things" to people.

Sencion's medications were changed this summer. About a month later, he approached a priest in the street and asked him for help, telling the priest, "They're telling me to do bad things."

The night before the shootings, Sencion, who lived with family members, took his medication at 10 p.m. Everything appeared normal the next morning. His last comment to his family - "I should have gone to work today."

Less than an hour later, a witness saw him in front of a beauty supply store near the IHOP restaurant. At 8:57 a.m., he parked his minivan in the IHOP parking lot and took out a Norinco MAK-90 assault rifle. He fired two shots, then a full automatic burst of bullets.

The 911 calls began streaming in to emergency dispatchers.

Sencion walked into the IHOP and fired 30 rounds. Florence Donovan-Gunderson, a 67-year-old resident of South Lake Tahoe, was eating with her husband, Wally that morning. They were the first to be shot. Florence Donovan-Gunderson died instantly, the report said.

Sencion then began shooting at five Nevada National Guard members sitting in a booth. Sgt. 1st Class Miranda McElhiney, 31; Sgt. 1st Class Christian Riege, 38; and Major Heath Kelly, 35, were killed. Their comrades - Sgt. 1st Class Jeremiah Mock, 32, and Sgt. Cait Kelley, 25, were wounded.

Two other diners were shot and wounded.

Sencion then went out to the parking lot, where he shot a woman in the head as she tried to escape on her motorcycle. Her helmet saved her life, investigators said.

He went back to his vehicle, picked up a handgun and shot himself in the head.

In all, he fired 79 rounds. Investigators said he brought two assault rifles, two handguns, 20, 30-round loaded magazines and 595 rounds of ammunition to the scene. See Chick's NO FEAR.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

UK Law Allows Gays Civil Unions in Churches

The British government said Wednesday (Nov. 2) that same-sex couples will be allowed for the first time to use churches to seal their civil partnership vows, starting in December.

But the directive added that no religious group will be forced to conduct or host such a ceremony, and the Church of England quickly announced it would permit no such rites on its premises.

In a statement, the church said it "has no intention of allowing civil partnerships to be registered" in its churches.

The government's equalities minister, Lynne Featherstone, used a written statement to Parliament to announce that same-sex couples will be allowed to seal their vows in churches and other places of worship in England and Wales starting on Dec. 5.

Civil partnership registrations have been entirely secular in Britain.

"The government is advancing equality for LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) people and ensuring freedom of religion for people of all faiths," Featherstone said. But she added that "no religious group will be forced to host a civil partnership registration."

Same-sex marriages are banned in Britain, but same-sex civil partnerships have been allowed since 2005. The partnerships give gay and lesbian couples the same legal protections accorded to heterosexual married couples.

Partnership ceremonies will most certainly be banned in Catholic churches, as well as mosques and Orthodox synagogues. The BBC reported that "leaders of Liberal Judaism, the Quakers and the Unitarians have in the past expressed interest" in hosting same-sex ceremonies. See Chick's SIN CITY.