Danielle Powell had nearly finished her Bachelor's Degree at Omaha's Grace University when the school administration found out that she was a lesbian. They outed her to her family and fellow students and suspended her (Grace is a religious school, which requires that its students abstain from "sexually immoral behavior, including premarital sex, adultery, and homosexual acts"). During her suspension, they made extensive queries to discover if she was still involved in same-sex relationships, and on discovering that she was, they did.
Powell has attempted to finish her degree at another university, but Grace refuses to provide her transcripts unless she pays back about $6,000 in merit scholarships that she received from the institution. Powell's wife has started a petition to get the university to provide Powell's transcripts and forgive the "debt."
"They were doing a witch hunt," Powell said, "calling around to see if I was in a same-sex relationship."
James told Powell in a letter, a copy of which was provided to HuffPost, that she was being "deceitful" and said it would be "unethical" for the university to readmit her since it "would be impossible for the faculty of Grace University to affirm your Christian character, a requirement for degree conferral."
By October 2012, as Powell was looking into attending another college, she said she was told that Grace would only transfer the credits from her three and a half years if she paid a $6,300 tuition bill from the semester during which she was suspended for being gay. The university denies they have withheld her transcripts, but Powell said she's only been offered a student copy she cannot use to transfer.
Danielle Powell, Grace University Student Kicked Out For Being Lesbian, Must Repay Thousands: [Tyler Kingkade/HuffPo]
This list of the components of Satan's Spiritual Structure appears on handouts given to attendees at San Diego Comic-Con by evangelical picketers. It seems to originate with a Jack Chick Tract, though I'm not sure if the protesters elaborated on the original or if it came from ChickCorp itself. Still, it's a great party game: I scored 20. How'd you do?
: Mark posted this last year
and it turns out it's a hoax handout, parodying those infamous Chick tracts. Too good to be true, I suppose.
Pornhub compared Gallup's survey of religiosity
to its own records of smut-seekers, and learned that residents of America's most religious cities love themselves some porn
. [Pando Daily] — Rob
sez, "Husband-and-wife Berkeley filmmakers Jason Cohn and Camille Servan-Schreiber won a Peabody award for their documentary about design pioneers Charles and Ray Eames, 'Eames: The Architect and the Painter.' Now they want to make a film about Jerry DeWitt, a former Pentecostal preacher who went public about his loss of faith, then lost his wife, yet remains in a town described by its mayor as 'the buckle of the Bible Belt.' Robert Worth profiled DeWitt's pain in the Sunday NY Times Magazine last August
- whereupon Jason and Camille headed to rural Louisiana to interview him. As their Kickstarter page shows
, they need to raise $30,000 in order to convince bigger funders that the project is viable. Sam 'End of Faith' Harris donated this week, and they're more than halfway to the goal."
Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro is Scottsdale, AZ gained some small notoriety when it became the first restaurant that Gordon Ramsey gave up on in his show Kitchen Nightmares, in which the restaurateur helps failing businesses reform their ways. The Ramsey segments show the owners of the restaurant, Samy and Amy Bouzaglo, screaming obscenities at customers, taking servers' tips, and generally behaving very badly.
But that was just for warmup. After the episodes aired and showed up on YouTube, the Bouzaglos took to Facebook to condemn their critics on Reddit and Yelp with a mix of profanity, Bible-thumping, spurious legal threats, and, finally, a claim that it wasn't them at all, all the crazypants stuff had been the work of hackers who took over their Facebook account.
In a world with innumerable social media hissyfits and bun-fights, the Bouzaglos' meltdown stands out as a world-beater. Truly, this is an exceptional episode of bad behavior.
This is the Facebook page for Amy’s Baking Company Bakery Boutique & Bistro, a restaurant in Scottsdale, Arizona.
As Scientology's numbers and influence decline, the
company religion is desperate to maintain appearances. Mark 'Wise Beard Man' Bunker managed to get shots and videos of this weekend's gala opening in Portland (despite a keystone kops runaround from the Portland cops, whom Scientology suborned to chase independent press away from the event), along with other, less public Scientology skeptics. They estimated the crowd at 450-750; the Church put it closer to 2,500, and to prove it, they photoshopped a bunch of stock-art people overtop of a line of rented trees.
Scientology Sunday Funnies: Portland Is Now Cleared, On to the Rest of Earth! UPDATE: PHOTOSHOPPING!
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against Dr. Dennis Nobbe's Dynamic Medical Services, Inc, where employees were made to engage in bizarre Scientology rituals as a condition of employment. The EEOC says that this violated employees' freedom of religion, and they're suing Dr Nobbe to prove it. This is the downside of the Church of Scientology's dodge of getting itself certified as a "religion," a practice that otherwise grants it enormous privileges, including preferential tax-treatment. But once your woo-woo exercises are officially "religious rituals," then forcing someone to engage in them violates freedom of religion rules:
According to the EEOC's suit, the company required Norma Rodriguez, Maykel Ruz, Rommy Sanchez, Yanileydis Capote and other employees to spend at least half their work days in courses that involved Scientology religious practices, such as screaming at ashtrays or staring at someone for eight hours without moving. The company also instructed employees to attend courses at the Church of Scientology. Additionally, the company required Sanchez to undergo an "audit" by connecting herself to an "E-meter," which Scientologists believe is a religious artifact, and required her to undergo "purification" treatment at the Church of Scientology. According to the EEOC's suit, employees repeatedly asked not to attend the courses but were told it was a requirement of the job. In the cases of Rodriguez and Sanchez, when they refused to participate in Scientology religious practices and/or did not conform to Scientology religious beliefs, they were terminated.
Requiring employees to conform to religious practices and beliefs espoused by the employer, creating a hostile work environment, and failing to reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs of an employee all violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
EEOC Sues Dynamic Medical Services for Religious Discrimination
(via Lowering the Bar)
The Catholic Church threatened to excommunicate Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny if he held a scheduled vote on Ireland's new abortion law. He responded:
Everybody’s entitled to their opinion here but as explained to the Cardinal and members of the church my book is the constitution and the constitution is determined by the people. That’s the people’s book. We live in a Republic and I have a duty and responsibility as head of Government to legislate in respect of what the people’s wishes are.
Redditor bleacliath created a great graphic for this quote and posted it to /r/atheism.
Politicians ‘have responsibility’ to legislate on abortion issue
Redditor Ventachinkway caught a photo of a homeless man conducting a clever exercise in behavioral economics disguised as an inquiry into the levels of spontaneous generosity as determined by religious creed or lack thereof.
When I passed him he proudly announced "The atheists are winning!" (i.imgur.com)
Bruce Schneier writes, "This is a film of a training session of the Russian Army deploying an inflatable Orthodox church and paratrooping priests.
Too weird for me to blog."
Paratrooper priests and airborne temples at the service of Russian army
Above is Anna Pierre, singing her 1990s Creole-language tune Suk Su Bon Bon. Pierre is currently running for mayor of North Miami, Florida, but she claims that sinister forces are trying to knock her out of the race. She's found evidence of Haitian Vodou spells left on her doorstep. “I found little dolls with needles in it. They put a lot of pennies at front of my office door,” Pierre told the Miami Herald. “I’m from Haiti I know what it is… (But) I have people in Haiti, Canada, and the U.S. praying for me. I have Jesus with me.” I briefly lived in Miami and had several friends whose relatives, usually grandparents, took Santería magic and ritual very seriously. I'm sure Haitian Vodou is also more common in that region than one might think. (via The Anomalist)
Sean Murphy's Punk Rock Jesus
is a rockin' comic about the Second Coming. It opens with a psychotically ruthless show-runner arranging to clone Jesus from DNA salvaged from the Shroud of Turin, implanting a foetus in the womb of a teenaged virgin, all for a reality TV show that starts with auditions for the part of Christ's mother. Gwen, the desperate teen who gets the part, is only one of the many memorable characters who make up the resulting set piece: there's Dr Sarah Epstein, a brilliant geneticist who's been promised funding for a carbon-fixing superalgae if she helps create the clonal Christ; there's Thomas McKael, an IRA soldier turned supergrass turned super-security director, and several others who come to prominence as the story unfolds (including Cola, a genetically engineered tame polar bear).
The story perks along for the first third, as the dismal life of Chris -- as the clone is called -- is run out on the screens of America, and in the high-security compound on an offshore island under constant siege from militant Christian fundamentalists who are torn on the question of whether Chris is the second coming or a mocker. Then there's a turning point where Chris becomes and adolescent and discovers some of the seedier truths about his life and the miserable existence his mother has been forced into all through it.
That's when Punk Rock Jesus is born. To a thudding soundtrack of vintage punk smuggled in on vinyl (CDs would set off the metal detector) Chris gives himself a mohawk, tears his clothes to rags, and surprises his minders by stepping out on stage and declaring himself to be an atheist. In the ensuing chaos, Chris escapes from the network and its evil representatives and makes his way to the drowned TAZ of lower Manhattan where he becomes the front-man for a "the last punk band in the world," the Flak Jackets.
And that's when the story really roars to life, becoming at once sillier and more serious, but avoiding some of the ponderousness of the setup. Serious questions of religion's role in society are raised; rock is bepunkéd; dressing rooms are trashed; the media is expertly dissected. It's a near-perfect rocket-ship ride through some of the best material from comics like DMZ and Transmetropolitan, with a healthy dose of radical atheism and geopolitics thrown in.
It's got pathos, laughs, rage and comeuppances, and awesome punk rock not-giving-a-fuck. What more could you ask for?
Punk Rock Jesus
TorrentFreak's been looking at the BitTorrent video-downloading from the small pool of downloaders in Vatican City, and they've reported in with the Vatican's favorite pornography:
In the interests of science we researched each of the titles (including the curiously named RS77_Episode 01) and discovered that downloaders in the Vatican have one or two unusual ‘niche’ interests. We won’t link to our discoveries here, but feel free to do your own ‘research’ using the titles shown above. There isn’t a commandment that covers these films directly, but some might argue there should be.
TorrentFreak couldn’t find a priest prepared to make a comment and apparently the Pope is “busy” today. On a Sunday?
Priests Watch DVD Screeners While Pirates Download Filth in the Vatican