Man destroys Arkansas' Ten Commandments monument

A 3-ton monument displaying the Ten Commandments was destroyed hours after being installed at Arkansas' State Capitol Wednesday, smashed by Michael T. Reed at the wheel of a 2016 Dodge Dart. Reed, 32, was arrested and charged with "defacing an object of public respect."

Reed, evidently a vigorous supporter of the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution's implicit prohibition of state religion, posted vertical video of his manuever to Facebook under the caption "Freedom".

Reed was arrested in 2014 for driving a car into the Ten Commandments monument at Oklahoma's state Capitol, Oklahoma County Sheriff's spokesman Mark Opgrande told The Associated Press. He was admitted to a hospital the next day for mental treatment and was not formally charged, the AP reports. In the 2014 incident, The Oklahoman reported that the U.S. Secret Service interviewed Reed and that he told agents that he has bipolar disorder and that Satan had directed him to destroy the monument.

The ACLU had planned to sue to get the monument removed. Arkansas's plainly sectarian government plans to rebuilt it, presumably surrounded by concrete pilings. Read the rest

Top Vatican official charged with mutiple child sex offenses

Cardinal George Pell, former Archbishop of Sydney and Australia's most senior figure in the Catholic Church, was charged with child sex offenses Thursday by the state of Victoria.

Pell currently resides in the Vatican, according to The Guardian, where he is the third-highest ranking church official.

Last year, citing ill health, Pell declined to return to Australia to give evidence to the royal commission on child sexual abuse in person last year and instead gave evidence by videolink from Rome. He voluntarily participated in an interview with Victorian police officers in Rome last October over the alleged sexual assaults.

In February this year the Australian Senate called on the cardinal to return home “to assist the Victorian police and office of public prosecutions with their investigation into these matters”.

Pell dismissed the parliamentary resolution as “an interference on the part of the Senate in the due process of the Victoria police investigation.”

Pell is a former archbishop of Sydney and Melbourne. Since 2014 Pell has been prefect of the secretariat for the economy, the Vatican’s treasurer..

A keen test of Pope Francis's pretensions. Read the rest

Canon Jesus was way better than fandom Jesus

Lauralot points out that the Jesus of the Bible doesn't have much in common with the right-wing, evangelical Christ -- canon Jesus was "a brown Jew in the Middle East, conceived out of wedlock in an arguably interracial if not interspecies (deity and human) relationship, raised by his mother and stepfather in place of his absent father. He may not have had a Y chromosome. He spent his early youth as a refugee in Egypt, where his family no doubt survived initially on handouts from the wealthy." Read the rest

Miracle calf in India born with "human" face!

Holy cow! A calf in Uttar Pradesh, India was born with a human face, leading some people to worship it as an incarnation of the god Vishnu. Unfortunately, the animal died an hour after birth. From India.com:

Unfortunately, the deformed calf could not survive and died in an hour, but that did not stop the locals from celebrating the birth of the cow with a human face, which they believe is an incarnation of God. They believe the dead calf is the ‘Gokaran’, 24 incarnations of Lord Vishnu. In fact, the religious believers now plan to build a temple for him.

Raja Bhaiya Mishra, 55, the manager of the cow shelter (where the animal was born), was quoted saying, ‘It’s a miracle that the calf was born in this shelter. Thousands of people have been here to see it. We will be cremating him in three days, and a temple will be built for him. This avatar has most definitely created a devotion feeling amongst the people.’

Read the rest

The Realist: trenchant, beautifully surreal Israeli comics about a sweet and complicated existence

Asaf Hanuka is a celebrated Israeli cartoonist whose astonishing, surreal illustrations serve as counterpoint to sweet (sometimes too-sweet) depictions of his family life, his complicated existence as a member of a visible minority in Israel, the fear he and his family live with, and his own pleasures and secret shames -- a heady, confessional, autobiographical brew that has just been collected into The Realist: Plug and Play, the second volume of Hanuka's comics.

Powerful Russian Orthodox cleric summoned to spritz computers with holy water to fight ransomware

Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church is a powerful reactionary figure in the country's toxic political scene, which has welded a tale of thwarted imperial destiny to a thin-skinned fundamentalist theology that can't bear the slightest sign of mockery; he's blamed ISIS on secularism and Pride parades and says that marriage equality literally heralds the imminent apocalypse. Read the rest

Irish police open blasphemy investigation into Stephen Fry for calling God an "utter maniac"

Living treasure and outspoken atheist Stephen Fry has a classic bit from a two-year-old episode of RTE's "The Meaning of Life" in which he answers the question, "What would you say to God if you died and found yourself at the gates of heaven?" Read the rest

New edition of The Book of Miracles, the 16th century's premier guide to the apocalypse

The Book of Miracles (also known as the Augsburg Book of Miraculous Signs) is a compendium of beautiful 16th-century illustrations of cosmic anxiety and apocalyptic surrealism. The new edition from Taschen, edited by Till-Holger Borchert and Joshua P Waterman, is a perfect introduction to the Renaissance obsession with signs, portents and the damned weird. Read the rest

Jesus appears in the clouds above Colombian city after catastrophe

Earlier this month, landslides in Manizales, Colombia killed 17 people and devastated the city. As emergency workers and citizens responded to the tragedy, some people reportedly noticed the clouds part and a beam of sunlight form into the figure of Jesus.

"‘Jesus’ Appears Over Landslide-Stricken Colombian City" (Mysterious Universe)

Read the rest

Watch the '60 Minutes' episode "The Rastafarians" (1980) with Bob Marley

Not long after Bob Marley's death, Dan Rather heads to Jamaica, bringing with him the misinformed view of Rastafari that was common in the United States then (and, well, now).

Read the rest

Mormon church uses bogus copyright claims in attempt to censor Mormonleaks

Mormonleaks is a whistleblower site dedicated to revealing corruption and hypocrisy in the Church of Latter Day Saints; over four months, it has published many documents that did just that, but when it published a leaked Powerpoint revealing the Church's view on "the roots of apostasy, such as pornography, campaigns to ordain women, challenges to church history and general 'lack of righteousness,'" the Church turned to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and a bogus claim of copyright infringement to get the document taken down. Read the rest

There's a hidden wire stretched above Manhattan

Manhattan is just one of hundreds of metropolitan areas in the United States that has an eruv, which is a wire that symbolically turns public spaces into private spaces during the Jewish Sabbath.

From Mental Floss:

On the Sabbath, which is viewed as a day of rest, observant Jewish people aren't allowed to carry anything — books, groceries, even children — in public places (doing so is considered "work"). The eruv encircles much of Manhattan, acting as a symbolic boundary that turns the very public streets of the city into a private space, much like one's own home. This allows people to freely communicate and socialize on the Sabbath — and carry whatever they please—without having to worry about breaking Jewish law. Along with everything else in New York City, the eruv isn't cheap. It costs a group of Orthodox synagogues $100,000 a year to maintain the wires, which are inspected by a rabbi every Thursday before dawn to confirm they are all still attached.

Read the rest

When Jack Chick offered to help the FBI fight Commies

Fundamentalist cartoonist Jack Chick wrote to J. Edgar Hoover in 1971 seeking the FBI's help with his bizarre religious comics. Today we publish that correspondence in its entirety for the first time, after obtaining it through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Pope to greedheads: better to be an atheist than the kind of Catholic who screws the poor

During an "improvised sermon" in his residence during morning mass, Pope Francis excoriated Catholics who lead a "hypocritical double life," going to mass and joining religious organizations while living from the exploitation of others -- the Pope said these people should say to themselves, "my life is not Christian, I don't pay my employees proper salaries, I exploit people, I do dirty business, I launder money, (I lead) a double life'." Read the rest

Irish women call for a nationwide strike if they don't get a referendum on the country's brutal abortion ban

Ireland's abortion laws are among the most barbaric in the world -- among its many deficits, it forces women to carry unviable fetuses to term, making them labor to deliver babies who live short hours in extreme pain before dying before them. Read the rest

America: where hundreds of thousand of underage girls are married off by their parents

The nonprofit Unchained At Last analyzed US marriage license data from 2000 to 2010 and learned that 167,000 children (almost all girls, some as young as 12) in 38 states were married off to older men: 31% of the girls were married to men who were 21 or older. Extrapolating from their data-set, Unchained at Last estimates the true total of child-marriage 2000-2010 as 248,000. Read the rest

President Bannon welcomed to higher level of hell

Nick Douglas imagines Stephen Bannon, Trump's political brain, receiving a smarmy credit-issuer welcome letter from the Abyss in recognition of his services.

Congratulations on your upgrade to Malebolge, the Eighth Circle of the Abyss. This tier of our eternal rewards program is reserved for customers of our Fraud department, including flatterers, adulterers, hypocrites, and thieves. And what a dedicated customer you have been.

We thank you for your use of our offerings, including Graft, Pandering, Deceit, and the Promotion of Discord. You earned your Fraud points through a surprising variety of purchases, ranging from tax evasion to promoting white supremacy.

...

While Malebolge is one of our highest membership tiers, there is one higher. If you fulfill certain requirements, we would be delighted to upgrade you to Cocytus, the Ninth Circle. This lake of ice is reserved for our most honored guests, the traitors.

All others pay cash. Read the rest

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