Boing Boing 

Top UK Catholic resigns after allegedly being captured by sexual abberation

Britain's top Catholic cardinal stepped down today after allegations of inappropriate behavior with priests, dating back to the 1980s, became public. Keith O'Brien is an outspoken conservative in the church, describing homosexuals as "captives of sexual aberration" and same-sex marriage as "shaming" the United Kingdom. [NYT]

Papal candidates link gays to Catholic child abuse

Taylor Berman at Gawker reports that two of the top candidates to replace retiring Pope Benedict have predictably well-informed opinions about why Catholic priests rape so many children.

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Catholic school forbids girls, but not boys, from cursing

"Female students at a Catholic high school in northern New Jersey have taken a “no-cursing” pledge at the request of school administrators, though some question why no such demand was made of male students." [NBC - Thanks, Heather!]

Catholic priest child sex abuse files released, at last, by LA archdiocese

After years of legal battles, The Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has grudgingly released files on priests accused of sexually abusing children. An announcement from the church about the document dump is here (PDF). You can browse the files yourself at clergyfiles.la-archdiocese.org.

Reuters: "The 12,000 pages of files were made public more than a week after church records relating to 14 priests were unsealed as part of a separate civil suit, showing that church officials plotted to conceal the molestation from law enforcement as late as 1987."

Scanned documents from church files on each of the priests known to have molested children are here, listed in alpha order of the each priest's name. Major trigger warning. They include explicit accounts of abuse testimony, and in some cases, letters of denial from officials within the church.

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More men join the ranks of Former Eagle Scout

On Monday, I published a letter from my husband, Christopher Baker, to the Boy Scouts of America. In that letter, Baker returned his hard-earned Eagle Scout award and explained that he no longer wanted to be associated with an organization that discriminated against gay teenagers and GBLT parents.

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"Same Love" - A Song for Marriage Equality

 Music for Marriage Equality

Music for Marriage Equality is working with Washington musicians to approve R-74, a referendum that will put same-sex marriage to the popular vote on Washington's state ballot in November.

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis recorded this lovely song, which includes vocals by Mary Lambert, to benefit Music for Marriage Equality. The cover art (above) for the single is a photograph of Macklemore’s uncles, who served as inspiration for the song and were a model of a committed and loving relationship while he was growing up.

Here's Macklemore on the process of writing the song:

 This song, which I wrote in April, is a response to what I have observed and experienced, and is also an act of personal accountability. It was not easy to write, and I struggled with how I, as a straight male, could genuinely speak upon this issue.

Initially, I tried writing from the perspective of a gay, bullied kid, but after getting some feedback, I felt it wasn’t my story to tell. What I do know, and where I wrote from, is my own perspective growing up in a culture where “that’s gay” was commonplace, with a huge stigma on those who identified and were perceived as gay.

Growing up in the Catholic Church, I saw first-hand how easily religion became a platform for hate and prejudice. Those who “believed” were excused from their own judgments, bypassing the stark issue of basic civil rights.

But, more influential to me as a kid than the church was hip hop, my cultural foundation that influenced my worldview.

Unfortunately, intolerance of the gay community in hip hop is widespread. The best rappers will use homophobic language on albums that critics rave about, making hip hop and homophobia inextricably linked. We have sidestepped the issue entirely, become numb to the language that we use, and are increasingly blinded to our own prejudice.

The consequence and impact of what we say, and the culture of shame and abuse it creates, has very real, sometimes deadly impacts upon LGBTQ young people looking for acceptance and belonging.

You can hear the song now for free (below), buy it on iTunes next week or pick up a limited 7" vinyl single to support marriage rights for everyone.

You can also stay in touch with Music for Music Equality on Twitter and Facebook

 

Catholic Cardinal authorized $20K to pay priests who raped children, then railed against ‘immorality’ of gay marriage

From Think Progress:

Screen Shot 2012 06 05 at 9 54 26 AMCardinal Timothy Dolan has led the charge against same-sex marriage, describing gay and lesbian unions as “unjust,” “immoral,” and unnatural. “This is a very violation of what we consider natural law that’s embedded in every man and woman and we’re really worried as Americans that it’s going to be detrimental to the common good,” Dolan said in a radio interview in June, as New York prepared to legalize marriage equality. “[W]e still worry about the detrimental effect upon society, upon culture, and certainly upon our individual churches.”

But church documents showing that Dolan paid off priests who had been accused of sexually abusing minors suggest that the prominent Catholic leader was willing to overlook these very same religious convictions to help colleagues accused of egregious wrong doing. The documents, obtained by the New York Times, also show that Dolan lied to reporters when he initially dismissed news of the payments as “false, preposterous and unjust.”

When a religious leader is found out to be a lying hypocrite, the members of the religion become much more devout. Church leaders should do this kind of thing more often.

Via Cynical-C

Dutch Catholic Church accused of castrating 10 young men

In the New York Times, Stephen Castle reports on a case in the Netherlands dating back to the 1950s: Roman Catholic Church officials are accused of surgically castrating as many as ten young men. In at least one case, the act may have been punishment against a child who went to police to report that he had been sexually abused by priests. The castrations may have also been "treatment for homosexuality." The article contains descriptions that may be upsetting.

(via Mia Farrow)

Advertiser: we won't reinstate our ads with Rush Limbaugh, even though he's apologized

David Friend, CEO of the company Carbonite (which makes backup software), explains why his company won't be reinstating its advertising on the Rush Limbaugh show. Carbonite was one of the advertisers that pulled its Limbaugh dollars after the radio host described a law student a "slut" and a "prostitute" for testifying on the cost of contraception for students whose Catholic university wouldn't extend insurance coverage to reproductive control.

“No one with daughters the age of Sandra Fluke, and I have two, could possibly abide the insult and abuse heaped upon this courageous and well-intentioned young lady. Mr. Limbaugh, with his highly personal attacks on Miss Fluke, overstepped any reasonable bounds of decency. Even though Mr. Limbaugh has now issued an apology, we have nonetheless decided to withdraw our advertising from his show. We hope that our action, along with the other advertisers who have already withdrawn their ads, will ultimately contribute to a more civilized public discourse.”

A Message from Carbonite CEO, David Friend Regarding Ads on Limbaugh (via Reddit)

Dirty! Dirty! Dirty!: Of Playboys, Pigs, and Penthouse Paupers: exclusive excerpt


[Video Link] Soft Skull Press has kindly given Boing Boing an exclusive excerpt of Mike Edison's history of Playboy, Penthouse, Screw, and Hustler magazines, called Dirty! Dirty! Dirty!: Of Playboys, Pigs, and Penthouse Paupers -- An American Tale of Sex and Wonder.

201201191257A wild and uncompromising history of four infamous magazines and the outlaws behind them, Dirty! Dirty! Dirty! is the first book to rip the sheet off of the sleazy myth-making machine of Hugh Hefner and Playboy, and reveal the doomed history of Hefner's arch rival, Penthouse founder Bob Guccione, whose messiah complex and heedless spending -- on a legendary flop of a movie paid for with bags of cash, a porn magazine for women, and a pie-in-the sky scheme for a portable nuclear reactor -- fueled the greatest riches to rags story ever told.

The adventure begins in the early 1950s and rips through the tumultuous '60s and '70s -- when Hustler's Larry Flynt and Screw's Al Goldstein were arrested dozens of times, recklessly pushing the boundaries of free speech, attacking politicians, and putting unapologetic filth front and center -- through the 1990s when a sexed-up culture high on the Internet finally killed the era when men looked for satisfaction in the centerfold. As America goes, so goes its porn.

Along the way we meet many unexpected heroes -- John Lennon, Lenny Bruce, Helen Gurley Brown, and the staff of Mad magazine among them -- and villains -- from Richard Nixon and the Moral Majority to Hugh Hefner himself, whose legacy, we learn, is built on a self-perpetuated lie.

Mike Edison is the former publisher of High Times magazine, a Hustler and Penthouse correspondent, and the former editor-in-chief of Screw magazine. He is the author of 28 pornographic novels and the legendary memoir I Have Fun Everywhere I Go -- Savage Tales of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, Pro Wrestling, Talking Apes, Evil Bosses, Dirty Blues, American Heroes, and the Most Notorious Magazines in the World. Edison lives and works in New York City.

Before you continue, read the following:

WARNING: ADULT TYPE MATERIAL

IF YOU ARE LIABLE TO BE OFFENDED BY SUCH MATERIAL KINDLY LAY OFF AND CLICK THE BACK BUTTON ON YOUR BROWSER.

THANK YOU.

The contents of this publication are neither obscene nor pornographic according to the guidelines set by the United States Supreme Court.

Read the Excerpt

Catholic officials in Ireland object to child abuse disclosure law

Officials of the Catholic church in Ireland object to a new law that mandates the reporting of child abuse. From the BBC:

The Irish Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that priests who are given admissions of child abuse during the sacrament of confession will not be exempt from new rules on mandatory reporting. During his homily to worshippers at Knock shrine in County Mayo, on Sunday, the archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland said: "Freedom to participate in worship and to enjoy the long-established rites of the church is so fundamental that any intrusion upon it is a challenge to the very basis of a free society."

The discussion seems to center on future abuses revealed during confession, but I wonder if it's really about the ongoing use of the sacrament to hide internal discussions of undisclosed abuses from the possibility of legal scrutiny.

Child protection measures apply regardless of religious rules [BBC]

Europride and Gaga in Rome

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(Lady Gaga performs during a gay pride concert in downtown Rome. Stefano Rellandini / Reuters)

The gay icon Lady Gaga was there wearing her green wig, together with up to one million people marching chanting singing in a carnival gay pride march.

Rome is the capital of Vatican too, the place where Pope lives and preaches from his balcony every Sunday morning about how people should live and love. Lady Gaga's motto this Sunday was the power of love. She recalled her Italian origin and name ( La Germanotta) and, in a passionate speech, demanded immediate equal rights for the gays, meaning the right to get married, have children etc. While singing her new song Born This Way, an anthem to diversity...

But only few days ago, the Pope announced his firm opposition to equalize even straight informal marriages, that is, unions not sanctioned by God in a marriage sacrament. Where the Catholic church is concerned, gay marriages are not only a taboo topic but even a place of severe demonization and homophobia.

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Sultan Berlusconi on Trial


[video link]

Silvio Berlusconi will be the first head of a G-7 state to be arraigned in court on charges of paid sex with a minor.

A few days ago, the court from Milan issued a subpoena for the Italian premiere, on a charge that could carry a penalty of 15 years of prison. This April 6, sugar daddy Silvio will face three adult female judges from Milan, the Italian women that the press here in Italy call his "Nemesis."

A right wing commentator of the TG1, one of the TV channels owned and controlled by Berlusconi himself, said: I believe in his innocence, but by the time he proves that, his reputation will be gone forever. And to tell the truth he worked hard on that himself! What on earth did he think he was doing when he meddled with minors and showgirls?

The Church as well as Catholic believers are divided. It's not about sex, says one of the high ranked church officials: hardly any Italian anymore confesses those misdeeds as sins. It's his way of doing it. Then there's the hardcore of Italian machismo, who aspire to that level of misbehavior themselves, and frankly admire Berlusconi for his orgies.

"Ruby The Heartstealer," the Moroccan illegal belly-dancing minor, was the last-known in the lengthy chain of Berlusconi's sweethearts. Ruby may have triggered a final avalanche of shameful publicity that will crush the lascivious premiere... but, Ruby nevertheless just cheerily appeared in Italian television, in black lingerie, peddling a tell-all book. Italians have always adored sexy foreign girls: Belen Rodriguez, the Argentinian top model, is the star of the Sanremo music festival although she cannot sing, and also the spokesmodel for a wireless Internet service, though her appeal is by no means high-tech. Italy's high-fashion business puts a premium on female beauty, not to mention a bald market price.

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Italy: Bad Day for Sultan Berlusconi as Millions of Women Demand He Resign


Photo (click for large) by Francesca Ottobelli: anti-Berlusconi protesters in Italy today.

"If Not Now, When?" was a national demonstration of Italian women, against Berlusconi and, to put it bluntly, his porno-democracy. The demo had other slogans as well: Resign! Basta! I don't give up! ADESSO, NOW!

A flash mob in 280 cities of Italy and 50 cities abroad, millions of people, mostly women, but also men and children. The demonstrations have been growing in the months since Berlusconi got caught up in the sex scandal vertigo with minors, prostitutes, pimps and orgies.

A week ago in Milan, in a big rally, the prominent intellectuals in Italian public life threw themselves into the campaign: the distinguished professor and writer Umberto Eco, Roberto Saviano the star of the antimafia campaign, the judges of of the constitutional court, trade union leaders and many others. But as one of the speakers, the orchestra director Pollini remarked : Berlusconi will never step down.

Berlusconi did not leave public life. On the contrary, he sped up his counter-campaign, attacking the judges in Milan who brought the latest of many legal cases against him. He even threatened to take his case to the European Parliament and sue the nation of Italy. He organized rallies in his support , claiming that his innocent altruistic interest in young girls had been cruelly misunderstood. He also accused the investigators of orchestrating a communist-biased coup against himself as head of government.

But his luck may be turning these days, after sixteen long years of media monopoly and political domination. Even the Catholic daily, Avvenire, came out with a big editorial claiming that decent Catholic women should be in the public squares on the 13th of February. It's rare of the Church to urge women to take to the streets to defend their dignity. Then there is the dignity of the state to consider, for the ludicrous shambles of Italian public life has become a matter of international concern.


(photo: Francesca Ottobelli)

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Further reflections on discrimination

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[Image, via Wikipedia: The Flammarion engraving (1888) depicts a traveller who arrives at the edge of a flat Earth and sticks his head through the firmament.]

A scientific experiment avoids confusion by holding as much as possible constant, while systematically varying some factor of interest. When you are trying to think through a complex train of thought it can be helpful to do something similar, especially when sorting out separate arguments that might be confused. My previous Boing Boing post, "Should employers be blind to private beliefs?," could be seen as raising four separate questions. These were in danger of being confused with each other, and it is helpful to consider them one at a time, setting the others on one side temporarily--the equivalent of holding other variables constant in an experiment. The four questions were:

1. Should Martin Gaskell have been turned down by the University of Kentucky? I got rid of this one by explicitly stating that I was not concerned with it. I shall continue to ignore it here.

2. Should employers ever discriminate on grounds of the beliefs of candidates? If the answer to this is no, there is no point in going on. I tried to dispose of it by reductio ad absurdum. I postulated hypothetical extremes (flat earth geographer, stork theory doctor, astronomer who thinks Mars is a mongoose egg). I presumed that everybody would agree to discriminate against such obviously preposterous extremes, and that we would therefore have a non-controversial baseline from which to move on to more subtle questions. As it turned out, I was wrong: I underestimated the emotive impact of the very word 'discrimination'. I may also have underestimated the power of the relativist doctrine that all opinions are equally worthy of respect. But in any case my purpose was not to erect a straw man and knock it down. I wanted to find a baseline of agreement, which would enable us to set Question 2 on one side, while we went on to the other questions.

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Vatican ordered bishops to protect and not report pedophile priests

"A 1997 letter from the Vatican warned Ireland's Catholic bishops not to report all suspected child-abuse cases to police -- a disclosure that victims' groups described as 'the smoking gun' needed to show that the church enforced a worldwide culture of covering up crimes by pedophile priests." (AP)

The Price of Everything

“According to Eduardo Porter of The New York Times editorial board, prices are more interesting than most of us realize. And the prices that never appear on a price tag are the most fascinating of all.

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Catholic Mischief in Glasgow

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Even those who agree with the great Christopher Hitchens that religion poisons everything might be surprised to learn that the toxin extends its reach even to football (soccer). Glasgow, Scotland's largest city, has two major football teams - indeed they are Scotland's two top teams - Glasgow Celtic and Glasgow Rangers.

By long tradition, the fans of these two teams break down by religion: Celtic represents the Catholics and Rangers the Protestants. Historically, the reason is the long association between this region of Scotland and Northern Ireland. Belfast and Glasgow have more in common than their depressed ship-building industries. The large Catholic population of Glasgow is mostly of Irish origin, while Orange Parades such as this one through the centre of Glasgow are all-but indistinguishable from their counterparts in Belfast.

If, in a crucial match between Rangers and Celtic, a referee's decision is unpopular, there is a high chance that he will be accused of sectarian religious prejudice, something that, I imagine, is not often seen in baseball or American football.

_48245072_orangewalk466.jpg (photo courtesy BBC News)

This is the background to bitter storm that erupted recently, in which I seem to have become embroiled although I am neither Scottish nor a soccer fan. Hugh Dallas, czar of referees for the Scottish Football Association was fired because he passed on, in an eMail, a joke about Roman Catholic child rape. The pope is not, so far as we know, a pederast, but there is good evidence that he was deeply involved in covering up the crime and contributing to its repetition by priests moved to other dioceses and parishes. Anyway, this was the subject of the joke that was sent to Hugh Dallas, and he passed it on to somebody else.

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A trip to the Peruvian Andes

 Users Mark Library Application-Support Ecto Attachments Juliacagiantslide

(As part of his research for a book he's writing on microfinance, Bob Harris took a trip through the Peruvian Andes, including Cusco, Lake Titicaca, Machu Picchu, where he studied the architecture, refused to try corn-and-human-saliva beer, imbibed in coca tea ("maybe the best damn thing I ever drank"), and visited with people who live on floating islands made out of reeds. His photos and comments are fascinating. -- Mark)

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"We did not know that child abuse was a crime," says retired Catholic archbishop

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Retired Catholic Archbishop Rembert G Weakland, who has been accused of covering up widespread child rape by priests in Milwaukee, has a forthcoming memoir in which he wrote the following bits of wisdom:

"We all considered sexual abuse of minors as a moral evil, but had no understanding of its criminal nature."

Weakland, who retired in 2002 after it became known that he paid $450,000 in 1998 to a man who had accused him of date rape years earlier, said he initially "accepted naively the common view that it was not necessary to worry about the effects on the youngsters: either they would not remember or they would ‘grow out of it’."

"We did not know that child abuse was a crime," says retired Catholic archbishop

LA Times religious reporter loses faith

My favorite news magazine, The Week, reprinted this fascinating personal account written the LA Times' former religious correspondent.

Nine years ago, William Lobdell was assigned to cover religion for the LA Times. He was a born-again Christian when he got the gig. In 2001 he started studying to convert to his wife's religion, Catholicism. That was when the trouble began for Lobdell. He began reporting on the molestation scandals in the Catholic church:

200708131123I discovered that the term "sexual abuse" is a euphemism. Most of these children were raped and sodomized by someone they and their family believed was Christ's representative on Earth. That's not something an 8-year-old's mind can process; it forever warps a person's sexuality and spirituality.

Many of these victims were molested by priests with a history of abusing children. But the bishops routinely sent these clerics to another parish, and bullied or conned the victims and their families into silence. The police were almost never called. In at least a few instances, bishops encouraged molesting priests to flee the country to escape prosecution.

I couldn't get the victims' stories or the bishops' lies -– many of them right there on their own stationery -– out of my head. I had been in journalism more than two decades and had dealt with murders, rapes, other violent crimes and tragedies. But this was different -– the children were so innocent, their parents so faithful, the priests so sick and bishops so corrupt.

In 2002, Lobdell decided not to go through the rite of conversion. He stopped going to church.

Next, he started looking into Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), the TV network that feature Billy Graham, Robert H. Schuller and Greg Laurie and other famous televangelists. He didn't like what he saw there, either -- a bunch of fantastically rich preachers who claimed to have a God-given power to cure people with grave diseases.

TBN's creed is that if viewers send money to the network, God will repay them with great riches and good health. Even people deeply in debt are encouraged to put donations on credit cards.

I spent several years investigating TBN and pored through stacks of documents – some made available by appalled employees – showing the Crouches eating $180-per-person meals; flying in a $21-million corporate jet; having access to 30 TBN-owned homes across the country, among them a pair of Newport Beach mansions and a ranch in Texas. All paid for with tax-free donor money.

...

At the crusade, I met Jordie Gibson, 21, who had flown from Calgary, Canada, to Anaheim because he believed that God, through Hinn, could get his kidneys to work again.

He was thrilled to tell me that he had stopped getting dialysis because Hinn had said people are cured only when they "step out in faith." The decision enraged his doctors, but made perfect sense to Gibson. Despite risking his life as a show of faith, he wasn't cured in Anaheim. He returned to Canada and went back on dialysis. The crowd was filled with desperate believers like Gibson.

At the end of the story, Lobdell realizes that his experiences destroyed his ability to believe in God.

Link

Reader comment:

Troy says:

Interesting post on the LA Times reporter "losing" his faith. While I agree wholeheartedly with the recent lawsuits against the Catholic church and that the authorities haven't gone far enough in sticking it to the Bishops, Cardinals, et al. and I also agree that TBN is a den of bad taste -- and even worse theology -- I would exempt Billy Graham from all that.

Did he appear on TBN? Yes he did. Did he buy into their health/wealth/prosperity theology? Hardly. Did he use their airwaves to get his message out? Undoubtedly. Graham himself was never wealthy (he earns about $200K/yr while his Association brings in over $100M) and always took a salary from his Association. I don't think he earned dime one off of any of his books, films, etc. I won't cry for him materially -- "he's got enough to eat and then some," but he lacks the conspicuous wealth of many of the others -- including Greg Laurie's Harley collection. Also witness Rick Warren giving back to his church his entire salary for the past 25 years or so and living in the same house since the 1980s and he has a ginormous cash-cow in his books -- which he does not use to enrich himself. There's no sin or hypocrisy in professional ministry per se, but there should be limits I believe in compensation -- especially when the world is watching and cutting no slack.

Anyway -- I would argue that Lobdell put his faith in the wrong thing to begin with. Christ didn't call us to put our our faith in a church -- an organization of people after all -- but in Him. An e-mail is too short to get into all that. We love our church, but we still do background checks on child-care workers and our pastor lives in a 2 bedroom in a gnarly part of Riverside (some would say all of Riverside is gnarly I realize!). No one, but a fool believes in human perfectibility.

When PR flacks "take things seriously"

Dan Gillmor's PR Week editorial, "They Take it Seriously? Oh, Sure" centers on a nice little linguistic observation: when a PR head says, "We take ______ very seriously," they mean "We don't care at all about ________."
Privacy violations, a drumbeat these days, constantly get this treatment. On December 15, the AP reported charges against a New Hampshire teenager who allegedly stole credit-card numbers from McDonald’s customers, with this quote from the company: “We take these matters very seriously…”

On December 14, after it was revealed that patients’ medical data went missing from a data-management company in Ohio, the healthcare provider’s spokesman intoned, “(W)e take this sort of thing very seriously,” according to a Pennsylvania TV station.

Taking things seriously isn’t limited to privacy slip-ups. A Texas district attorney, reacting to a Dallas newspaper’s successful campaign to unseal Catholic Church documents about alleged sexual-abuse cover-ups, said, “We take these kinds of abuse scenarios very seriously” (The Dallas Morning News, December 15).

Link

Update: For more, see the punchline to yesterday's Penny Arcade strip -- Thanks, Jamie!

Residents of Sadr City, Baghdad angry over "Buddy Christ" leaflets

Iraqi Shiite residents of Baghdad's Sadr City are upset about smiling Jesus posters that appeared on the streets after a joint US-Iraqi military operation:
Residents found a picture of "Buddy Jesus" from [Kevin Smith's] 1999 film "Dogma" posted in the streets, accompanied by a badly photocopied pamphlet bearing a crude approximation of a US military crest and outlining a US "plan" to subjugate the neighborhood.

"That picture abuses our Imam Mahdi and his holy character, and mocks our sacred figures," said resident Abu Riyam Sunday, apparently mistaking the satirical movie still of Jesus for one of Shiite Islam's historical imams, whose images adopt a Jesus-like iconography.

Link (thanks, Mitch Wagner)

Reader comment: ttrentham says,

Kevin Smith posted on his own blog about it today: Link.
Chris says,
This story is really unfair to Muslims -- thanks AFP. It makes them sound like morons, confusing obvious iconography of Jesus for that of one of their Imams. Anyone who knows anything about Islam knows that Jesus is also a sacred figure to Muslims (though in a different way than for Christians, clearly). Shoddy journalism on AFP's part -- shockingly insensitive and ignorant of the beliefs of 1 billion people. No wonder we have trouble understanding each other. See this Wikipedia link for a good explanation.
Nathaniel Thomas says,
Although I don't know what the residents of Sadr City thought the "Buddy Christ" picture to be besides what the AFP story says, I think Chris underestimates the number of people who realize the significance of Jesus in Islam. One man AFP interviewed "apparently" thought it was the Imam Mahdi. I can't find any imagery for the Imam Mahdi, but iconography for figures important to Shia Islam are actually similar to "Buddy Christ". For example, pictures of Imam Ali: JPEG LINK.

I'm not sure how much recognition there would be of the Sacred Heart motif in Sadr City. The muscular and rather alive (as opposed to crucified) Western image of Jesus in the Buddy Christ does suggest Imam Ali. Also, the beard has a certain thickness that is close to representations of Imam Ali, as for example here: JPEG LINK.

I admit that Imam Ali appears in green with a hood, so it's not a close match. I've also never seen pictures of the Imam Mahdi.

Since "Buddy Christ" is not a typical western representation of Jesus (albeit playing off Sacred Heart images), it is entirely possible that the residents of Sady City assumed it was some mockery of Imam Ali or the Imam Mahdi by the occupation forces.

Although Chris' concern is commendable, for a Shia Muslim in Sadr City that iconography of Jesus might not be "obvious". The AFP doesn't paint Muslims as "morons", but it does show that the very Catholic Sacred Heart imagery might not be immediately apparent to some Muslims in Sadr City.

Elías says,
I don't know where the guys commenting about islam live, but I've lived all my life - 31 years now - in a city that is half catholic, half muslim, and most muslims here doesn't realize that Jesus is a prophet in islam. It's even usual to make jokes about Christ, just as some people makes jokes about Muhammad.

And I've never seen a muslim complain about profanation of christian images. For example, some time ago the spanish songwriter Javier Krahe cooked a crucifix for a TV program and the only ones who got offended were a few too delicate christians, but nothing serious (Link to video).

It is true, anyway, that muslims -at least where I live, Melilla, Spain- are not very comfortable about making jokes about christianism, for they have more respect for that religion than, e. g., judaism, and some think there shouldn't be jokes about any religion, at least the monotheistic ones. But I don't think any muslim feels particularly offended by the jokes about Jesus.

Roba says,
Will we please stop philosophizing over other religions just because we "live in the neighborhood"? Take it from someone born Muslim but who isn't religious, ALL Muslims consider Jesus a prophet and holy. In fact, it is one of tenants of Islam. You cannot be Muslim UNLESS you believe in the following:

(1) believe in God,
(2) believe in His angels (Gabriel and the whole shabang),
(3) believe in His books (New Testament, Old Testament, Quran),
(4) believe in His messengers and, finally,
(5) they do not differentiate among the messengers whom they claim to believe in. Anyone who differentiates among the messengers is, ipso facto, not a believer.

So let's stop making up stuff because of neighbors and actually start reading, eh?

Update on SubGenius child custody case

Rev. MagdalenHere's the latest news about performance artist Rachel Bevilacqua (AKA Rev. Magdalen), a SubGenius reverend who lost custody of her 10-year-son after a pink judge saw photos of a SubGenius convention she participated in. (Disclosure: I have been a card-carrying SubGenius reverend for 22 years and take the word of JR "Bob" Dobbs to be the literal truth. I have also contributed to Rachel's legal fund.)

Read the rest

Woman denied custody of son for participating in SubGenius holiday

As a card-carrying minister of the Church of the SubGenius since 1984, I am outraged that a judge has taken a mother's child from her because she participated in a sacred SubGenius ritual event.
200602210936 …On February 3, 2006, Judge Punch heard testimony in the case. Jeff entered into evidence 16 exhibits taken from the Internet, 12 of which are photographs of the SubGenius event, X-Day. Kohl has never attended X-Day and is not in any of the pictures. Rachel is depicted in many of these photos, often wearing skimpy costumes or completely nude, while participating in X-Day and Detroit Devival events.

The judge, allegedly a very strict Catholic, became outraged at the photos of the X-Day parody of Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ — especially the photo where Jesus [Steve Bevilacqua] is wearing clown makeup and carrying a crucifix with a pool-noodle dollar sign on it while being beaten by a crowd of SubGenii, including a topless woman with a “dildo”.

…Judge Punch lost his temper completely, and began to shout abuse at Rachel, calling her a “pervert,” “mentally ill,” “lying,” and a participant in “sex orgies.” The judge ordered that Rachel is to have absolutely no contact with her son, not even in writing, because he felt the pictures of X-Day performance art were evidence enough to suspect “severe mental illness”…


Link (thanks, weev!)