Pennsylvania has one-upped Ohio's lethal anti-abortion bill (which requires OB/GYNs to perform a non-existent operation to implant fertilized eggs from ectopic pregnancies in women's uteruses, on penalty of prison time), with anti-choice lawmakers introducing House Bill 1890, the Pennsylvania Final Disposition of Fetal Remains, which provides for prison sentences and fines for anyone disposing of a fertilized human egg without obtaining a death certificate and then holding a funeral for it. Read the rest
A federal court ruled today that an atheist gentleman from Kentucky should be permitted to get a personalized license plate from the state with the phrase “IM GOD” on it. The man is committed to his cause -- this only took three years of legal fighting. Read the rest
In 2016, Bennie L. Hart applied for a vanity license plate emblazoned with "IM GOD." The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet refused to issue the plate, apparently because it was related to religion. With the support of the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Hart took the matter to court. And finally, U.S. District Judge Gregory F. Van Tatenhove ruled that the First Amendment limits the state's power to put the kibosh on the plate. From WDRB:
Read the rest
(The judge wrote) that courts have ruled that such plates convey a “personalized message with intrinsic meaning … specific to the owner.” Even the state’s own statute establishing the program describes such plates as consisting of “personal letters or numbers significant to the applicant,” the judge wrote.
Further, the judge wrote, if the cabinet’s permission to use a vanity plate constituted a “stamp of approval” from the state, the government would be “babbling prodigiously” and “saying many unseemly things...."
“If the Transportation Cabinet genuinely wants to avoid controversy on Kentucky’s highways by preventing ‘promotion of any specific faith, religion, or anti-religion’ from appearing on vanity plates,” the judge wrote, “then it should have denied 'IM4GOD', 'ASKGOD', 'GR8GOD', 'LUVGOD'. But it did not," (Van Tatenhove wrote.)
Positive drug tests will result in confidential counseling.
"This is in the best interests of the students," Pendergest said. "The impact of drug use on young students and their families is staggering, and our community is not immune to this issue. Being proactive on drug testing is the appropriate action on our part..."
"We're talking about a health and wellness issue, not a punitive issue," (principal Brian) Pendergest added. "For their own wellbeing, students should not be doing drugs. We want to help them to make the right choices."
In Mumbai, India, the Western Railway deployed a police officer dressed as Yamarāja, a Hindu god of death, to educate commuters about railway safety and enforce the laws. From Zee News:
Railway Ministry's handle warned the people in Hindi, "Do not cross the track in an unauthorised manner, it can be fatal."
"If you cross the track in an unauthorized way, then Yamraj will be standing in front of you," Railway Ministry added.
In 2018, as many as seven people on an average lost their lives on a daily basis due to carelessness in crossing railway tracks illegitimately. At least 1,476 people had lost their lives while crossing the railway tracks while over 650 people died after falling off the trains.
Lauren Bard works as a nurse at Dignity Health, a "Christian hospital" (motto: Hello humankindness). In 2018, Bard went to UC Irvine hospital to deliver her very premature (21 week) baby. Read the rest
This is scary, but has nothing to do with Halloween, despite the date. Read the rest
The upcoming Dracula miniseries is written by Sherlock’s Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat and sounds like it'll have us rooting for the sexy villain:
They’ve made him the hero of the show, the protagonist – though still just as nasty. He has no moral dilemmas, he just wants to eat people. A creature who has seen empires rise and fall, who has seen it all before and who likes humanity – they are his food source after all. And by now he’s become quite a connoisseur of humanity.
Here's the first trailer:
Dracula will premiere on BBC One in the UK and on Netflix outside of the UK and Ireland. "Episodes will be directed by Jonny Campbell, Damon Thomas and Paul McGuigan, whose impressive list of credits include Westworld, Killing Eve and Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool, respectively." Read the rest
Inspired by Marx's aphorism that "Religion is the opium of the people," the USSR commissioned a wealth of anti-religious artwork, much of it very clever and striking. A new book called Godless Utopia: Soviet Anti-Religious Propaganda, edited by Roland Elliott Brown, Damon Murray and Stephen Sorrell collects the most striking examples of the form. The Guardian has a tremendous gallery of excerpts from the book. Read the rest
MSCHF told CBS that it customized a pair of Nike Air Max 97 sneakers by attaching a crucifix as a shoelace charm, and adding to the soles "holy water from the River Jordan, which was blessed by a priest in Brooklyn." The resulting "Jesus Shoes" are available for purchase at shoe speculating site StockX for $4000:
Perhaps Cleveland preacher Perry Stone is expecting an urgent text from the holy spirit. Read the rest
A young gay Christian man in Oklahoma says his fellow church-goers tackled him, pinned him down, punched him in the face, and tried to ‘pray the gay away,’ because he and his boyfriend are “guilty of homosexuality, an “abomination of a sin.” Read the rest
The Sentinelese are one of the world's last "uncontacted" indigenous peoples, a hunter-gatherer tribe who live on the remote North Sentinel Island in India's Andaman Islands chain. You may recall that last November, a missionary named John Allen Chau, 26, obsessed with trying to convert the tribe to Christianity, paid local fishermen to help him get near the island. As soon as he illegally landed his canoe on the shore and started preaching, the Sentinelese fired arrows. He escaped with injuries but returned twice later and was eventually killed. In a long and fascinating GQ feature, Doug Bock Clark tells the whole tale. From GQ:
From his kayak, Chau yelled in English: “My name is John. I love you, and Jesus loves you. Jesus Christ gave me authority to come to you.” Then, offering a tuna most likely caught by the ﬁshermen on the journey to the island, Chau declared: “Here is some ﬁsh!” In response, the Sentinelese socketed bamboo arrows onto bark-ﬁber bowstrings. Chau panicked. He ﬂung the gift into the bay. As the tribesmen gathered it, he turned and paddled “like I never have in my life, back to the boat.”
By the time he reached safety, though, his fear was already turning to disappointment. He swore to himself that he would return later that day. He had, after all, been planning for this moment since high school. It was his divine calling, he believed, to save the lost souls of North Sentinel Island.
And from GQ's summary of the article:
Read the rest
The tribe had for centuries lived in isolation there free of disease, modern technology, and Western religion, ideals, and systems.
Next month in Chicago, the Pope Leo XIII Institute will hold its annual exorcism conference for clergy. While not directly associated with or funded by the Catholic Church, the Institute was "established for the total education & training of priests in the holy ministry of exorcism and deliverance." According to the conference site, you'll learn the following:
- If the devil can read your mind or knows the future.
-How to distinguish between divinely inspired visions and those inspired by the devil.
-Common pitfalls for beginners in the spiritual life - as well as those of the most advanced.
-How the devil adapts his strategy according to where you are in the spiritual life: purgative, illuminative, and unitive stages.
-How to grow in prayer.
-What are the most effective weapons in combatting the devil - as well as those the devil uses against you to halt your progress.
From Mysterious Universe:
Read the rest
The independent, non-profit was founded to serve and educate Catholic bishops, priests, exorcists, deacons, and laity and offered its first conference in 2005 in response to Pope John Paul’s recommendation that every diocese appoint an exorcist.
This year’s exorcist conference will focus on the teachings of Father Cliff Ermatinger and his book The Devil’s Role in the Spiritual Life. Past conference themes have included the exploration of the Virgin Mary’s role in defeating Satan and the in-depth examination of the motives of rebellious angels. The keynote speaker of the 2016 conference was Father Gary Thomas, the real-life priest on whose experiences the 2009 book The Rite: The Making of a Modern Exorcist was based, as well as the 2011 film The Rite, starring Anthony Hopkins.