Tag Archives | church

Why isn’t America outraged over the burning of 5 black churches near Ferguson?


Five predominantly black churches around St. Louis have been attacked by arsons — but you wouldn’t know it if you only follow the mainstream media.

Cory Doctorow via BoingBoing:

St. Louis Fire Department captain Garon Mosby calls the fires “arson,” but despite the shocking string of racist attacks, major media have hardly breathed a word about the fires.

It’s a stark contrast with the orgy of media coverage that attended last year’s burning of a CVS in Baltimore by protesters, which was a major news lead for several days, and was used to characterize the whole anti-racist movement as violent and out-of-control.

The attacks follow on from last summer’s wave of torchings of black churches across the south after the terrorist slaughter at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Black church burnings and bombings have been a favored tactic of white terrorists since the civil war era, a tactic for racists who call for pogroms, genocide or deportation of their fellow citizens.

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Holy Water Revealed To Be Largely Unsanitary And Harmful To Health

holy waterVia ABC News, a warning that participation in Christian blessings, miracles, and ceremonies may be harmful to your health:

Despite its purported cleansing properties, holy water could actually be more harmful than healing, according to a new Austrian study on “holy” springs.

Researchers at the Institute of Hygiene and Applied Immunology at the Medical University of Vienna tested water from 21 springs in Austria and 18 fonts in Vienna and found samples contained up to 62 million bacteria per milliliter of water, none of it safe to drink.

Tests indicated 86 percent of the holy water, commonly used in baptism ceremonies and to wet congregants’ lips, was infected with common bacteria found in fecal matter such as E. coli, enterococci and Campylobacter, which can lead to diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever.

Public awareness has to be raised to perceive holy springs as potential sources of illness.

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Inside Santa Fe’s Ayahuasca-Based Church

ayahuascaIs this what the biblical Moses was dabbling in when he encountered the “burning bush”? NPR describes attending a plant-based Christian spiritist service:

A small church in Santa Fe, N.M., has grown up around a unique sacrament. Twice a month, the congregation meets in a ritualized setting to drink Brazilian huasca tea, which has psychoactive properties said to produce a trance-like state.

UDV stands for Uniao do Vegetal — literally translated “the union of the plants.” The Santa Fe church is the largest of the six UDV congregations in the country, numbering only 300 members in all. There are 17,000 practitioners in Brazil, where the church started.

The Supreme Court confirmed the UDV church’s right to exist in 2006. The church doesn’t seek new members and prefers to keep a low profile.

Barbara, an electrologist, says the tea cured her Lyme disease; Satara, a substitute teacher, claims huasca amplifies perception of herself and the world — like turning up the volume on a radio.

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Tennessee Man Sues After Pastor Punches Out His Teeth In ‘Surprise Exorcism’

Attending church increasingly resembles backyard wrestling, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports:

A Sevierville man alleges he went to his Pigeon Forge church for a February 2012 meeting and came away with broken and cracked teeth and facial injuries, inflicted by the preacher and a deacon as part of an exorcism. Andrew Byrd filed a lawsuit against the Rev. Joel Arwood, his wife Theresa Arwood and deacon Charles Shields.

According to the lawsuit, Shields and the Arwoods asked Byrd to attend a meeting at Family Chapel Church of God in Pigeon Forge. During the meeting, Theresa Arwood said Byrd had a “demon or spirit that needed to be cast out.”

“Thereafter, Joel Arwood and Charles Shields physically assaulted (Byrd),” states the lawsuit. Byrd alleges the pastor later bragged to the congregation that he had “punched the devil and knocked the devil’s tooth out.”

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Oklahoma Teen Sentenced To Ten Years Of Church As Manslaughter Punishment

What separation of church and state? Oklahoma City’s KOCO reports on a teenager convicted of killing a friend in a drunk driving accident given the choice between jail and Christianity:

An Oklahoma teen convicted of manslaughter won’t get jail time. Instead a judge sentenced him to go to church. Tyler Allred was 17-years-old when prosecutors say he drove while intoxicated and killed his passenger, a 16-year-old friend.

A judge presiding over Allred’s case sentenced him to attend church every Sunday for the next 10 years. In addition to church attendance Allred must graduate from high school and take drug and alcohol test for the next year. The teen’s attorney does not plan to challenge the sentence.

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Megachurches Are ‘Like A Drug’

Medical News Today discusses a study attempting to qualify the infectious appeal of megachurches. Is it me, or does this sound like a description of a cult?

Megachurches, or churches with 2,000 or more congregants, have grown in number, size, and popularity in recent years, coming to virtually dominate the American religious landscape. More than half of all American churchgoers now attend the largest 10 percent of churches.

Megachurch services feature a come-as-you-are atmosphere, rock music, and what Wellman calls a “multisensory mélange” of visuals and other elements to stimulate the senses, as well as small-group participation and a shared focus on the message from a charismatic pastor.

As part of their study, Wellman, Corcoran, and Stockly-Meyerdirk analyzed 470 interviews and about 16,000 surveys on megachurch members’ emotional experiences with their churches. Four themes emerged: salvation/spirituality, acceptance/belonging, admiration for and guidance from the leader, and morality and purpose through service.

Many participants used the word “contagious” to describe the feeling of a megachurch service where members arrive hungry for emotional experiences and leave energized.

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Pussy Riot’s Performance At One Of The World’s Most Hallowed Orthodox Churches

Pussy Riot is a bright young Moscow musical act known for its anti-Putin message and raucous behavior. Their latest shenanigans were a blasphemous performance at Russia's main cathedral. Russia Today explains:
Russian Cossacks are to stand guard over Moscow’s Orthodox churches after a feminist punk band broke into a Cathedral and sang blasphemous songs at the altar. Earlier this month, four members of the all-girl band Pussy Riot rushed the church dressed in mini-dresses and wearing masks. Without losing time, they sang a song entitled Holy Shit before being escorted out by security.
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Churches Made Of Human Bones

Inhabitat takes a tour of Europe’s historic churches built out of bones, including Poland’s Czermna Chapel below. Why was this a recurring trend? Either because clergy and architects imagined that vast, towering walls comprised of human remains would put people in the right humble mindset, or they simply were short on building materials yet had loads of human skulls handy.

Bodies from victims of the Thirty Years’ War and the Silesian Wars adorn the Czermna Chapel in Poland. Built in 1176 by a local priest, bones surround visitors on the walls, and stretching in skull and crossbones over the ceiling- only they are real bones and not pirate décor. Builders of the chapel are especially honored- their skills can be found in the center of the chapel and placed on the altar.


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Church Mass Moves Italian Man To Tear Out Both Of His Eyes

rome_trastevereThe Bible’s Gospel of St. Matthew quotes Jesus telling his disciples: ‘If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.’

A case of literal biblical interpretation gone gruesomely awry. If God spoke to you and told you to do this, would you? NBC New York writes:

An Italian man tore both of his eyes out in the middle of the priest’s homily at a church near Pisa, according to reports.

Fellow parishioners watched in horror as Aldo Bianchini, 46, used his bare hands to pull out both eyeballs. Bianchini later told surgeons, who were unable to save his vision, he heard voices that told him to do it.

“He was in a great deal of agony and he was covered in blood,” Dr. Gino Barbacci told the Daily Mail. “He said that he had used his bare hands to gouge out his eye balls after hearing voices telling him to do so – to do something like that requires super human strength.”

Father Lorenzo Tanganelli said he had just launched into his sermon when he saw a commotion in the back of the church, according to the Italian paper Corriere Fiorentino.

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In Alabama Town, Offenders Must Choose Between Church And Jail

10073914-large“It was agreed by all the [area] pastors that the crime problem [is due to] the erosion of family values and morals.” Crime problem solved. Via the Washington Post:

Jail or Jesus. These are the options that one Alabama town is giving its non-violent offenders.

The program is called Operation Restore Our Community, WKRG reports. Bay Minette citizens charged with a misdemeanor can choose spending a year’s worth of Sundays in a local church rather than paying a fine and sitting in the clink.

Town police chief Mike Rowland…told the Alabama Press-Register: “It was agreed by all the pastors that at the core of the crime problem was the erosion of family values and morals. We have children raising children and parents not instilling values in young people.”

The stark choice has civil libertarians asking whether the initiative could be seen as government-coerced religion, which is forbidden under American law.

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