Wednesday, September 30, 2009
By The Associated Press
HARTFORD, Conn. – The growing number of Americans who don't claim religious affiliation are more likely to be male, younger, living in the West and politically independent, a new report finds.
"American Nones: The Profile of the No Religion Population" takes a deeper look at data collected for the American Religious Identification Survey 2008, which was released earlier this year by Trinity College .
The report identified an estimated 34 million adult "nones" in 2008 — up from 14 million in 1990. Those not affiliated with any religion accounted for 15 percent of U.S. population, up from 8.1 percent in 1990. Most of the gains took place during what the authors called the "secular boom" of the 1990s.
If current trends hold true, "nones" could account for about one-quarter of the U.S. population in two decades, the study projects.
The religiously unaffiliated are beginning to more closely resemble the general population as their ranks grow, but distinctions exist on gender and age, the study found. Sixty percent of "nones" are male, and 40 percent are female; 30 percent are under age 30 and only 5 percent are 70 years or older.
The religiously unaffiliated in the U.S. "embrace philosophical and theological beliefs that reflect skepticism rather than overt antagonism toward religion," the report says.
Only 27 percent of "nones" profess belief in a personal God , compared to 70 percent of adults overall. But only a small number of the unaffiliated — 7 percent — are atheists. Groups the study identified as "hard agnostics" and "soft agnostics" accounted for 35 percent of the religiously unaffiliated.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
How do people define pornography and divide it into categories? Smut is smut, and sin is sin. I do not care how you paint it. The so called "soft porn" viewer typically escalates into the so called "hard porn" viewer. Like marijuana to cocaine to heroin. From a breast out in a magazine to black leather attire with chains to animals with grandmothers...and so on. You would not believe some of the titles on spam I have gotten--uh--yes you would. No doubt you have gotten them too. Anyway, people open the door to demonic spirits by engaging in this stuff and are sinning against God.
Look at the type of shows on prime time television today--people talk about various sex practices on prime time tv with no sense of shame--no discernment of right or wrong. So many are proud of marital affairs or the cheating they have engaged in--as if it is some type of accomplishment. Little girls have so much pressure placed on them to achieve a "certain look". It's heart breaking. We have to keep ourselves out of the world as we live in it and interact in it. And above all, live a life pleasing to God. The article below:
MIM Report Shows How the Explosion of Hardcore Adult Pornography on the Internet and Elsewhere is Contributing to the Sexual Exploitation of Children
NEW YORK, Sept. 25 /Christian Newswire/ -- Morality in Media has compiled information from hundreds of news articles and from court cases, social science studies, books, Congressional testimony, and other sources that show how the explosion of hardcore adult pornography on the Internet and elsewhere is contributing to the sexual exploitation of children. The works cited in the report were published from 1980 to the present.
The evidence compiled shows:
- Perpetrators use adult pornography to groom their victims.
- For many perpetrators there is a progression from viewing adult pornography to viewing child pornography.
- Johns act out what they view in adult pornography with child prostitutes and pimps use adult pornography to instruct child prostitutes.
- Children imitate behavior they view in adult pornography with other children
- Perpetrators use adult pornography to sexually arouse themselves.
- Addiction to adult pornography destroys marriages, and children raised in one-parent households are more likely to be sexually exploited.
In the report, Mr. Peters commends government and private entities for finally working together to curb sexual exploitation of children. He then states, "For the most part, however, these same...entities have turned a blind eye towards the explosion of hardcore adult pornography on the Internet and elsewhere... [T]hose who fight sexual exploitation of children but who turn their backs to the adult pornography problem are making a tragic mistake."
Mr. Peters observes that while hardcore adult pornography does not depict actual children, it does "include hardcore depictions of sex with persons who look like children and with 'barely legal teens.' Hardcore adult pornography also encompasses depictions of sex with animals, other family members, multiple partners ('gangbangs'), and prostitutes. It also depicts excretory activities and sexual violence against women, including rape and torture."
Mr. Peters responds to the notion that online distributors of hardcore adult pornography are not breaking any laws. He writes, "[I]n 1996 Congress amended two sections of the federal obscenity laws... to clarify that distribution of obscene matter is prohibited on the Internet. In Miller v. California...the U.S. Supreme Court has also stated: 'This much has been categorically settled by the Court, that obscene material is unprotected by the First Amendment.' The Miller Court went on to define the term 'obscene' in a manner intended to restrict the reach of...obscenity laws to 'hardcore' pornography. Today, most adult pornography distributed commercially, whether online or elsewhere, is 'hardcore.'"
In response to the assertion that that the average American no longer deems hardcore adult pornography unacceptable, he states, "Pornography defenders overlook at least three factors. First, much if not most hardcore adult pornography is consumed by a relatively small percentage of individuals who are addicted to it. Second, just because a person experiments with hardcore adult pornography for a period of time or on occasion succumbs to the temptation to view it does not mean he or she approves of what is viewed, especially when hardcore adult pornographers promote their products aggressively...Third, many visitors to 'adult websites' are minors."
He also cites the results of four national opinion polls (conducted by Harris Interactive and Pew Research Center) indicating that most adults do not consider pornography morally acceptable or harmless and that they want federal obscenity laws enforced.
He explains why it is a mistake for the Justice Department and FBI to focus their energies almost exclusively on child molesters and child pornography because of limited resources. "In the first place," he writes, "the explosion of hardcore adult pornography is contributing to sexual exploitation of children in various ways. In the second place, children are harmed not just by predators; they are also harmed by exposure to hardcore adult pornography...In the third place...a frequent result of a successful federal obscenity prosecution is a significant fine and/or forfeiture of property...[which] can offset in whole or part the cost of these cases. In the fourth place...it isn't just children who are harmed by hardcore adult pornography."
Mr. Peters sets forth reasons for why he thinks vigorous enforcement of obscenity laws will result in a number of benefits both to children and society. He also explains why federal obscenity laws are not being enforced vigorously, as they should be. Those at fault include the U.S. Justice Department, the FBI and Congress.
Mr. Peters states that in addition to law enforcement, "parental involvement, public education, the involvement of religious groups, and corporate responsibility are all desperately needed."
*Btelife Note: The article concludes by listing sources. Click on the title above to go the entire article.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.
O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.
Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.
1) Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
2) Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
Monday, September 21, 2009
by Joe Borlik
The voices of America’s non-religious college students are being heard more than ever.
According to Secular Student Alliance, a national umbrella organization for the secular student movement, there are 159 campus groups affiliated with the nationwide organization as of Labor Day, up from 100 in 2008 and 80 in 2007.
Kirk Wilcox, president of the Non-Religious, Atheist, Free Thinker and Agnostic Alliance, a registered student organization he helped start last semester, said he is not surprised campuses across the county are seeing increasing numbers of non-religious students.
“Over the years, it’s become more acceptable — people should be proud of who they are,” the Royal Oak senior said. “If you want to be a Christian and go to church, that’s fine, but there should be institutions for people who aren’t religious.”
Wilcox said Christians also are becoming more accepting of non-religious individuals.
Macomb senior Jake Barnett, NAFAA vice president, said there are various reasons for the increasing numbers of non-religious students, including education and the economy.
“When people are ethically and financially stable, it prevents them from exploring religious options and they tend to focus on themselves and others,” he said.
Barnett said he believes every minority in the county deserves to be represented, including those non-religious, such as atheists and agnostics.
“If we can influence elections, then we can show we have a voice,” he said. “Once we are visible, hopefully we can stop the negative stereotypes.”
The results of the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey parallel similar results regarding broader secular demographics.
Last year, 76 percent of American adults identified themselves as Christian, down from 86 percent in 1990, according to the study.
The study reports increases among the religiously unaffiliated especially prominent in people younger than 30.
A ‘belief around nothing’
Jeremy Priest, a pastoral associate at St. Mary’s University Parish, 1405 S. Washington St., finds it interesting that non-religious individuals are forming groups together.
“They’re forming a common belief around nothing,” Priest said. “I’d like to ask them what they’re community is founded upon. Christians get together to celebrate the Lord’s creation and resurrection on the eighth day. Why do atheists get together?”
Priest said the increasing numbers of people unaffiliated with religion could be partly to blame on Christians failing to live with a true spirit of joy and conviction.
The Non-Religious, Atheist, Free Thinker, and Agnostic Alliance meets at 7 p.m. every Tuesday in Moore Hall Room 116.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
1 PETER 2:11-12
11) Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;
12) Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
7) In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
8) Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.
2 TIMOTHY 2:19-21
19) Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
20) But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor.
21) If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
Many Women Targeted by Faith Leaders, Survey Says
By Jacqueline L. Salmon
Washington Post Staff Writer
One in every 33 women who attend worship services regularly has been the target of sexual advances by a religious leader, a survey released Wednesday says.
The study, by , found that the problem is so pervasive that it almost certainly involves a wide range of denominations, religious traditions and leaders.
"It certainly is prevalent, and clearly the problem is more than simply a few preying on vulnerable followers," said Diana Garland, dean of Baylor's School of Social Work, who co-authored the study.
It found that more than two-thirds of the offenders were married to someone else at the time of the advance.
Carolyn Waterstradt, 42, a graduate student who lives in the Midwest, said she was coerced into a sexual relationship with a married minister in the for 18 months. He had been her pastor for a decade, she said, and told her the relationship was ordained by God.
"I believed him because I was looking for direction and for help," said Waterstradt, who ended the relationship years ago and entered therapy. The pastor was removed from the clergy.
Waterstradt said she has suffered lasting psychological and spiritual consequences from the relationship, including depression and a deep distrust of organized religion. "It's very difficult for me to walk into a church," she said.
A growing number of denominations are moving to do something about such problems, particularly since the Catholic Church's highly publicized sex scandal involving its clergy.
At least 36 denominations have policies that identify sexual relations between adult congregants and clergy as misconduct, subject to discipline.
The Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative rabbis, uses investigating panels to look into complaints against rabbis. It notes that the "power imbalance between clergy and those to whom they minister makes it clear that sexual contacts in these situations are by definition non-consensual."
In the , ministers must attend a workshop on clergy sexual abuse every three years, and those seeking jobs in the ministry must have their names checked against government sex offender lists, said the Rev. J. Bennett Guess, spokesman for the 1.2 million-member denomination.
Locally, the requires clergy members, other employees and volunteers to receive training in prevention of adult sexual misconduct and , spokesman Henry Burt said.
The diocese "takes very seriously its obligation to make its churches and institutions safe places for children and adults to grow in their faith in the church," Burt said.
Lawmakers are also taking note. Clergy sexual misconduct is illegal in Minnesota and Texas. Texas law, for example, defines clergy sexual behavior as sexual assault if the religious leader "causes the other person to submit or participate by exploiting the other person's emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman's professional character as spiritual adviser."
For its study, Baylor used the 2008 General Social Survey, a nationally representative sample of 3,559 respondents, to estimate the prevalence of clergy sexual misconduct. Women older than 18 who attended worship services at least once a month were asked in the survey whether they had received "sexual advances or propositions" from a religious leader.
The study found that close to one in 10 respondents -- male and female -- reported having known about clergy sexual misconduct occurring in a congregation they had attended.
Researchers say they don't know whether the incidence of clergy sexual misconduct had changed over the years. Nor do they know whether sexual wrongdoing by clergy is more, or less, frequent than in other well-respected professions.
But, Garland said, "when you put it with a or moral leader, you've really added a power that we typically don't think about in secular society -- which is that this person speaks for God and interprets God for people. And that really adds a power."
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Saturday, September 12, 2009
(--sounds like NAR material to me.
...Yes, God imparts revelation to us from time to time, but so does the devil--and I dare say, more often.
You will know them by their fruits. You will also know them when they contradict and "attempt to usurp" His Word by their new revelations as this fellow did--however such falseness is readily apparent in this case.
You shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
The article directly below:
Preacher says God wanted him to hijack Mexican jet
MEXICO CITY – It was 1 p.m. when the control tower at the Mexico City airport got the first word of a bizarre drama that would play out over the next two hours: The pilot of Aeromexico Flight 576 radioed that a man aboard claimed to have a bomb and wanted to talk with President Felipe Calderon.
Jose Flores, a 44-year-old Bolivian preacher who lives in Mexico, had gotten the word from God that he had to warn Mexicans of an impending disaster — an earthquake "like none there has ever been," he told reporters after being hustled off the plane by police without anyone being injured.
Unsuspecting passengers, including Americans and French tourists traveling from the beach resort of Cancun to Mexico City, sat not fully aware of what was happening as the pilot negotiated with Flores, bringing the plane to a smooth landing and after an hour or so of talking winning an agreement to end the standoff.
The crisis began when Flores told a flight attendant that a juice can he had was a bomb. The flight attendant notified the plane's captain over the intercom, Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna told reporters.
Flores kept the 103 passengers and crew on the tarmac for more than an hour, the plane sitting surrounded by heavily armed police at the end of a runway in an area designed for emergencies. The airport remained open.
Pilot Ricardo Rios told the Televisa television network that Flores requested that the Boeing 737 be flown around Mexico City seven times, but there wasn't enough fuel to do that. The hijacker also asked that women reporters and Calderon be at the airport to talk to him, Rios said.
"He said he had tried to speak to the president for three months and since there hadn't been an answer he decided to use these type of threats with an airline," the pilot said.
Eventually, Flores agreed to release women and children. Minutes later, masked police stormed onto the aircraft with guns drawn and soon escorted several handcuffed men away without firing a shot.
Police later said there was only one hijacker, and the other men were briefly detained because the suspect had told a flight attendant he had three accomplices.
Flores told police his three companions were "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."
He said he hijacked the plane after a divine revelation. Flores told authorities Wednesday's date — 9-9-09 — is the satanic number 666 turned upside down.
Speaking to reporters after he was detained, Flores said he took control of the aircraft with "a juice can ... with some little lights I attached."
"Christ is coming soon," he added, smiling.
His wife, Elizabeth Melgar, told W Radio that Flores "always told me that he was looking for a way to attract the attention of the media ... he always told me that he was waiting for a signal from God to do something."
"Don't worry if they put me in jail; (it will be) glory to God," she quoted him as saying.
The suspect's mother, Mary Pereyra de Flores, told PAT television in his native Bolivia that "I knew that my son had this revelation a year ago, I knew he was going to try to talk to the president of Mexico."
She also said she knew that the 9-9-09 date had significance. "There was a revelation for that date ... today there is a promise for the people of God and retribution for everything that the enemy has stolen," she said.
Garcia Luna said Flores is a drug addict who was convicted of armed robbery in Bolivia and has lived in Mexico for 17 years. Flores described himself as a former drug user and a pastor in southern Oaxaca state who had gone to Cancun to preach.
He is also a Christian music singer who in videos posted on YouTube sings of leaving drugs and finding God. "I was in jail, I was a despicable drug addict, but Christ freed me a few years ago," he sings along with recorded music at a crowded stadium.
In other videos, Flores, who goes by the stage name Josmar, is seen playing with nunchakus or shooting at a coin he tosses in the air.
U.S., French and Mexican citizens were among the passengers, according to a U.S. official in Washington who was briefed on the situation. The official was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.
A U.S. Embassy spokesman said at least 14 U.S. citizens were on the plane and were interviewed by Mexican authorities.
Passenger Pamela Cheatham, 48, an insurance industry employee from Colorado Springs, Colorado, is cautious about flying on "fateful" dates, but said she didn't make the connection with "9-09-09" — the number that obsessed the hijacker — until after the fact.
"When I was doing my flight I was like, 'I don't want to fly on 9/11, but then it didn't hit me until this was all over," Cheatham said. "I should have evaluated that a little better."
Cheatham said passengers "had no idea anything was wrong until we landed," and the pilot announced the plane would be delayed on the tarmac for a security check.
"When I saw the police with big guns and the SWAT teams on the side of the bus, then my anxiety started to happen," she added. "When they said women and children off, then I knew something had to be on the plane."
Passengers said the hijacker remained in his seat after the landing, negotiating with a cockpit crew member who periodically walked back from the cockpit. Many passengers thought it was the pilot, but Rios said he sent the co-pilot as his intermediary.
"I could see the anxiety on his face; he didn't panic but I could tell he was anxious," Cheatham said of the co-pilot.
Randy White, 54, a former law enforcement officer from Houston, Texas, said the toughest moment for him and his wife, Susan, 52, was when women passengers were told to leave while the men stayed aboard.
"I heard they were keeping them hostage," said Susan White. "I didn't know what was going to happen and I didn't want to be separated, so I said I love you and gave him a kiss," she said.
Passengers said the hijacker — who was seated toward the rear of the plane — did not draw their attention during the flight. Randy White said he had a very serious demeanor, unlike the wildly smiling, disjointed attitude the suspect displayed after he was caught.
Once Mexican officials negotiated the release of women and children, they sent in the police. White said that "it wasn't a big struggle" when the hijacker was taken into custody
The most recent hijacking attempt in the Americas occurred April 19, when a man with a handgun tried to commandeer a Canadian jetliner in Jamaica. The standoff ended before takeoff at Montego Bay's airport when military commandos burst onto the plane and disarmed the man, who was described as "mentally challenged."
Friday, September 11, 2009
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
IS OBAMA REALLY the PROBLEM??
ARE WE BEING DISTRACTED From THE REAL FIGHT?
-by Andrew Strom.
Years ago a friend of mine, Robert Holmes, saw a vision of Christians leaving the Harvest field to go and join in with a "Civil War". They were leaving their primary mission (the gospel) to go and make war against their own countrymen. What does it mean and why would they do such a thing? -This was unclear.
Like a lot of you, every day I get bombarded with the latest emails against Obama - and what he is up to. I can truly understand this. Unlike a lot of overseas Christians who can't comprehend this kind of American political partisanship, I truly get it. I lived in America for four years, and one of the things I saw clearly while living there is that America is at WAR with itself. And it is getting worse. Right against left, liberal against conservative. And there is no doubt that as an evangelical Christian, I am truly a "conservative" myself. But there is a lot that troubles me about what is going on.
When the US conservatives elected Bush, a lot of the world could not understand it. I understood it completely. America is at war with itself and Bush seemed like the most robust campaigner against the liberal agenda. It did not matter that he was not the "smartest" guy. He was strongly on "our side" in the culture war - and that is what mattered: Homosexuality, abortion, taxes, health care, and so-on. To a lot of US Christians, politics has become THE main arena where they fight and take a stand. So if I am a conservative myself, why am I so troubled by a lot of this?
Well, let me ask you some questions and hopefully you will see why:
-Is "Politics" the arena that Christians are supposed to be putting so much time and energy into fighting? Is that what the early church did?
-Aren't we supposed to be more passionate about prayer and the gospel than we are about pulling the "liberals" down?
-Couldn't this be a total distraction from our real mission?
-Doesn't a lot of it amount to a giant "smear" campaign of rumor-mongering that should be beneath Christians to participate in? –In other words, isn't the way we are speaking often gossipy, slanderous,
mocking and ungodly?
-Why are prayer and the gospel taking a backseat to Obama-baiting?
-Is the Christian community in any country supposed to become a "voting bloc" for one particular party?
I think those are pretty important questions. And I think a lot of Christians may have trouble answering them.
The fact is, I get more "political" anti-Obama emails from US Christians every day than 'spiritual' emails. What does this say about conservative Christians? It says they care more about politics than the gospel. That is the conclusion I have to come to. And I believe this is Idolatry - pure and simple. Politics has replaced the pure milk of the word for a lot of Christians. They are on a "campaign" alright, but it is not a campaign for Jesus. And they devote hours and hours to it. They are feverishly checking out the "latest dirt" on Obama every night and hungrily devouring Fox News (which makes more and more ratings dollars as it drives every fresh controversy). They love it! There is only one problem: It is not Jesus, it is not the gospel, and a lot of it is simply not godly at all. In fact, it is replacing Jesus and replacing the gospel.
If I was the Republican Party or Fox News or Talk Radio (each hungry for more ratings and dollars - these are not Christian organizations at all) then I would absolutely LOVE the fact that the
Christians are so easy to whip up into a frenzy of Obama-rumors and Obama-trash-talk. But none of this is godly, is it? It is not remotely Christian. The early church would have renounced it utterly. They took no interest in politics. They only cared about Jesus and His simple gospel. And that is still the only thing that
can save America today. We are being sidetracked.
But the frenzy continues. "Did you hear the one about Obama being likened to Hitler?" 'Did you hear the one about Obama's birth certificate?' 'Did you hear the one about Obama's "death panels"? 'Did you hear that there are really demons in the Swine Flu vaccine?' (canned laughter please).
A lot of this amounts to a kind-of Christian "smear" campaign. In politics much of it would be considered in the 'dirty tricks' category - the kind of thing you do when trying to ruin someone's reputation with sick rumors and innuendo. No matter if it's true or not. As long as it does the job of "smearing" the person. Is that the kind of thing Jesus would want us involved in?
Here is the truly major thing that I believe the devil is trying to do in America today: -He is trying to create division so bitter and so extreme that both sides literally start to fight one another with guns drawn. He is
trying to tear America apart.
-He is trying to sidetrack the one group that truly has the answer. He is trying to wrap them up in fighting politics, so they will forget that the pure GOSPEL is the only real hope for America today.
I believe the devil is truly succeeding in both of the above aims.
To conclude this article, I would like to ask some questions of the Christians who spend so much time on this "Obama War":
-Do you spend as much time spreading the pure gospel as you spend spreading stuff about Obama? Why not?
-Is your mind and your energy and your passion more focused on getting the true gospel out - or defeating Obama and the liberals in politics?
-If you were asked to turn off Fox News and delete the "Obama" emails and turn off Talk Radio, etc, could you bear it? Or are you more-or-less an "addict"?
-Do you really think it is right for this to be the big focus of your life?
I truly believe these are huge issues and huge problems in the American church today. But I guess I can expect a wave of angry disagreement in response!
Please send feedback to- email@example.com
God bless you all.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Leaders of traditionalist Catholicism, a mixture of Roman Catholicism and native rituals, expelled 32 Christians from their homes in a village in Hidalgo state and another 25 from a town in Oaxaca; in each case, the evangelicals were deprived of their property for refusing to participate in drunken festivals that included worship of Catholic icons.
Hundreds of evangelical Christians from six states of Mexico organized a caravan on Aug. 10 on behalf of the 32 evangelicals from Los Parajes, near Huejutla in Hidalgo state, who were violently torn from their homes on July 13 when the town’s traditionalist Catholic leaders struck them with machetes and ropes. They were forced to leave behind 121 acres of land planted with crops, as well as their homes and animals.
The 32 Christians in Hidalgo state, north of Mexico City, say they have lost their entire crops of corn and sesame, and they are missing the season for planting jicama.
Cars and buses forming the caravan met at noon in the town of Tantoyuca, Hidalgo, proceeding together with police escort to Huejutla, where they left their vehicles and continued on foot toward the central plaza carrying the Mexican flag, a Christian flag, and placards with messages of love and support. Pastor Carlos Del Angel of Cerro Azul, Veracruz organized the protest, with the demonstrators also bringing food and clothing to the victims.
At press time Christian lawyer Samuel Noguera had still not been able to reach a solution with authorities. One of the expelled evangelical leaders, Enrique Garcia, told newspaper Milenio Hidalgo on Aug. 11 that local and state authorities should respect the rights of those who have been expelled.
“It seems to me impossible that once it has been proven that all of us evangelicals have fulfilled our obligations to the town, we should still be exiled,” Garcia reportedly said. “I understand that approximately 70 percent of the population of Los Parajes is open to our return.”
In February the Christians had reached an agreement with the community allowing them to choose to follow their own faith, but when Enedino Luna Cruz became town leader he burned the document, according to the evangelicals.
At first the expelled group, including two infants, four other small children, and several older adults, took refuge in two rooms of Benito Juarez School in nearby Huejutla, sleeping on the floor and going without food and water – and quashing plans for a 15th birthday celebration, a traditional Mexican quinceanera or “coming out” party, for Alejandra Dorotea Geronimo, according to local newspapers.
The Milenio Hidalgo newspaper reported on July 28 that townspeople in Los Parajes had offered to allow the Christians to return if they denied their faith and paid the equivalent of nearly $13,900 in “fines” for having refused to contribute to the traditionalist Catholic festivals, but they refused.
“We are being treated as though we were delinquents for being evangelicals,” one Christian leader, Roberto Hernandez, told Milenio Diario on July 21.
The men were prohibited from leaving the school to try to earn money for food and were forbidden to tend to their crops.
Milenio Hidalgolater reported that on August 4 the refugees were moved out of the school into a small house with three rooms, one bathroom, and no tables or beds. Due to lack of space, the men were unable to lie down to sleep at night. Following the Aug. 10 caravan, the Milenio Hidalgo reported that the group would be relocated to a larger house with five bedrooms and two baths.
Three years prior, town officials had cut off water and electricity service to the seven Christian families in the village for being unwilling to return to Catholicism. At that time the pastor of the group was beaten and tied up in a futile effort to force him to change his faith. Likewise, in the current case authorities told the Christians their expulsion could have been avoided if they had rejected their faith.
In the Yavelotzi community near San Jacinto, Oaxaca, 25 Christians were threatened and expelled from their homes for the same reasons on July 17, according to Christian support organization Open Doors.
The Netherlands-based organization said local authorities of Yavelotzi threatened to beat and kill a group of evangelical Christians on that day if they did not leave the community at once. The Christians had refused to participate in week-long parties characterized by drunkenness and worship of Catholic icons.
The 25 Christians left behind their homes, crops and communal rights – necessary for gaining access to government assistance – and were warned not to return unless they renounced their faith in Jesus Christ, according to Open Doors. They relocated to a nearby community called Rancho Tabla.
To prevent them from returning to their homes, Yavelotzi officials have taken away their land and have refused to allow their children to register for school, the organization said in a statement.
In nearby Arroyo Copete, according to Open Doors, traditionalist Catholic leaders have refused to allow the children of 10 Christian families to register for school, and are forcing the families to participate in the Catholic festivals. The officials assert that the evangelicals are not participating in the obligatory community service, but evangelicals say contributing to that service requires them to participate in “idol worship” as well.
In the Yavelotzi conflict, lawyers for both sides were to meet on July 25, but it was postponed at the last minute as the attorney for the Yavelotzi community was unable to attend.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
African-American Pastor Ritually Murdered in Oklahoma: Hate Crime Victim?
Was an African- American pastor in Oklahoma the victim of a ritualistic hate crime killing? Well, authorities have warned pastors in a town where a preacher was brutally killed inside her church that they should take precautions at their buildings. Police have not shared with the public precisely what happened. She tried to fight off her attacker before her throat was slashed and she was nearly decapitated, according to a forensics expert who reviewed a preliminary autopsy report on Friday.
District Attorney Bret Burns, who described the killing as “horrific,” is said to have held a closed-door session with about 24 pastors, along with members of law enforcement. Several pastors who were there said authorities did not discuss any facts of the case.
“We talked about security issues within their churches and their congregations,” Burns said. “We asked them to remain vigilant and be aware of their surroundings and their church locations.”
He did not say why the meeting was held just with pastors rather than the community at large, or what kind of a threat the clergy might face.
The corpse of 61-year-old Carol Daniels was found last Sunday in the Christ Holy Sanctified Church in Anadarko. Law enforcement declined to elaborate and have been tight-lipped about details of the crime or a possible motive.
The DA told The Oklahoman newspaper that Daniels was killed between 10 a.m. and noon Sunday, while preparing her sermon. He did not rule out the possibility that the killer specifically targeted a pastor or a church. “There are a lot of things we’re not prepared to rule out,” he said. “I’m concerned about the nature of this crime. I’m concerned about the community.”
No arrests have been made, and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Howard Kurtz, a local criminology professor told reporters that after seeing the medical examiner’s autopsy notes, it appeared Pastor Carol Daniels put up a fight. “The marks on her hands are defensive looking marks as if she was trying to defend herself from an attacker. It looks like she put up a pretty good fight,” said Kurtz.
Rumors of a cult killing are still circulating in Anadarko and on Thursday, according to News 9 in Oklahoma. Investigators confirmed that Daniels’ body was staged.
“It could be a thrill killing, somebody who wants to make a name for himself or somebody who thinks this would be a fun thing to do. It could be revenge. The fact that she was stabbed so many times would often mean that this could be a domestic case,” Kurtz said.
Investigators have said that whoever killed Daniels posed her body in an unnatural position, or “staged” it, but have declined to elaborate. The staging of the body is extremely rare, according to Dr. William Manion, a forensic pathologist and deputy medical examiner in Burlington County, N.J., who spoke with the Associated Press. “It’s something to repel and nauseate people, something very shocking to try and upset people investigating the crime,” he said.
Oklahoma is home to the 1921 Tulsa race riots, which left a total of 301 dead African Americans after two days of violence and arson directed by whites against African American neighborhoods. Hundreds were injured, and more than 1500 African American owned homes and 600 businesses were destroyed. Also destroyed in the African American neighborhoods were 21 churches, 21 restaurants, 30 stores, 2 movie theaters, a hospital, a bank, the post office, libraries, and schools.