Showing posts with label Religion/Crime. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religion/Crime. Show all posts

August 2, 2016

Do the Muslim Religion Encourage Violence More Than Other Religions?



                                                                             



Donald Trump faces backlash within his own party after he criticized Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Muslim parents of a slain American soldier. Mr. Khan, who addressed the DNC Thursday, claimed Trump lacked the moral character and empathy to be president, among other criticisms, while Trump shot back on twitter, claiming Mr. Khan had "viciously attacked." Trump and his advisors repeatedly tried to steer the conversation to Islamic terrorism, but many in the Republican party have condemned Trump’s attack on the Khans.




July 2, 2016

A violent Preaching Against LGBT Leads to a Violent Outcome


                                                                          A view of damages in a church following a violent earthquake two days ago in the Abruzzo capital L'Aquila on April 8, 2009. Hopes faded Wednesday of finding more survivors from the worst earthquake in Italy in 30 years as the death toll climbed to 260 and the country prepared to bury the victims.
























Eliel Cruz wrote yesterday on his page {http://elielcruz.com/blog/} about the direct relationship between people talking real badly and sometimes violently about LGBT and people who hear this stuff either directly or indirectly through others and their acts of violence against the community.  

This is something I have always held as truth. Growing up in the church (Evangelical) and knowing how I felt due to those sermons and teachings against gay people at the time. I am able to determine how those feelings of seeing gays as less than 100% human and finding myself being one change from one extreme to the other. I had nothing against this people until I was told I should. I knew very little except what I was told. Had never seen a gay person until age of 12 or so in which the pastor took us in a ride around times square to see the big buildings and those men walking around with real tight pants and some walking the way women walk when trying to be cheap. That was my experience and it was not the same as new types of people I met like Chinese or Jews. Even studying in the seminary that was a subject that was only touched when we hit certain passages of the bible but in church it was a continuous harping particularly by the last pastor I had which at one point(years after I left the church)  left his wife for another man.
Adam Gonzalez

                                                                         _*_              
    


There is a direct correlation to the anti-LGBT theology shared by religious leaders to the violence LGBT people face. This theology -- which dehumanizes, ostracizes, and demonizes LGBT people -- does not happen in a vacuum.

Just over a week ago, forty-nine members of the LGBT community, overwhelmingly Latinx, were slaughtered at a gay nightclub. The shooter, as many speculated, had ties to ISIS and it was his radicalized religious ideology that led him to massacre dozens of LGBT people. This ISIS connection, which has been dismissed by the FBI, prompted others to condemn Islam as an inherently violent religion – especially to those in the LGBT community.

Indeed, ISIS promotes anti-LGBT ideologies and have targeted the queer community in beheadings and other obscene forms of murder. These acts are extreme representations of what it looks like to take the words in the Quran to the letter of the law. Even those who are not radicalized in their Islamic beliefs perpetuate beliefs against the LGBT community that are harmful. Still Islam is not the only religion that encourages violence against LGBT bodies. Christianity, in its most traditionalist understanding of sexuality, where sexuality is only holy between a man and a woman, can be just as violent.

Its sermons preached from our pulpits that allow parents to throw their LGBT kids on the streets and their counselors that encourage us to unsuccessfully pray our queerness away. Christians may not be throwing us off buildings but it’s their theology that leads us to the bridge. It’s their voices on our backs that encourage us it’s better to jump than to live life as a proud queer person.

In Belgium, a gay man has requested to be euthanized for his sexuality. After 17 years of therapy, and unable to change his sexual orientation, this Belgium gay man is unable to reconcile his sexuality and traditional catholic faith. The messaged he has received from his church has made him believe it is better he die than be a gay man.

It’s internalizing this anti-LGBT theology that has many LGBT people depressed and suicidal. The harm is not only self-inflicted but also by those around us. This traditional theology creates an environment fertile for violence. The dehumanization of LGBT persons from the pulpit create the very environment in which 17 Trans women, primarily women of color, have been murdered this year alone. LGBT people are most likely to face hate crimes than any other minority group and our chances for violence doubles if we’re people of color.

Not only is the evangelical right’s theology influencing harm on LGBT people in the United States but also abroad. The Christian right’s anti-LGBT theology has extended far past our boarders influencing legislation in multiple countries in Africa as well as Russia. These laws, which are motivated by the same evangelical theology here, require hard labor, anal exams, decades in prison, or are sometimes carried out in street justice.

Recognizing the long reaching effects of this anti-LGBT theology makes the Christian right’s response to the Orlando massacre incredibly hypocritical. The statements and tweets, which erased the LGBT community, claiming to grieve with the LGBT community are reprehensible when those same individuals work tirelessly to limit LGBT civil rights. Politician Pam Bondi claimed to be a supporter of the LGBT community only to have Anderson Cooper remind her of her anti-LGBT record. Dr. Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention claimed to grieve for Orlando, without mentioning the LGBT community, and with a history of anti-LGBT statements.

The Evangelical right has political capital in the United States that is unparalleled. When those who heavily influence our policies and culture espouse the very rhetoric that causes LGBT people violence, they must be held accountable. They cannot encourage this traditional theology and wash their hands of the harmful, and even deadly, effects.

As a bisexual Christian living in the United States, I’m far more concerned with anti-LGBT animus from the evangelical right here at home. That is not to say that I do not mourn with my LGBT siblings abroad whose lives are being taken by ISIS in the most heinous ways. It is atrocious and ISIS must be stopped. But we must also call upon those here at home who do damage to LGBT persons to stop. 

The Christian right cannot point to ISIS as the murderous homophobes without reflecting on the way their own theology has cause LGBT deaths.

Eliel Cruz 

June 27, 2016

Pastors Praise the Shooting in Orlando, A Warning



          
                                                                       



After the massacre in Orlando, Fla., American religious leaders spoke in a largely unified voice, condemning the killer and mourning the dead. But at some extreme conservative Christian churches, there was another message: good riddance.

In the weeks since 49 people were slaughtered at a gay nightclub, remarks by pastors celebrating the deaths have brought attention to several outposts of anti-gay hostility across the country that until now had been operating mostly under the radar.

“The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die,” Roger Jimenez, a Sacramento preacher, exhorted his congregants on June 12, the day of the assault. “The tragedy is — I’m kind of upset that he didn’t finish the job! Because these people are predators! They are abusers!”

Mr. Jimenez’s sermon received widespread attention after a video of it appeared online, and then a torrent of denunciation from gay rights advocates, fellow pastors and pretty much everyone who saw it. But his sentiments were also echoed in at least a few other churches.

Rebecca Barrett-Fox, a visiting assistant professor of sociology at Arkansas State University who has researched Christian extremists, said she had tracked about five churches — in California, Texas, Arizona and Tennessee — where preachers had endorsed the killings in Orlando.

They are not as well known as the virulently anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., which has become infamous for demonstrations at military funerals. But their views about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and what should happen to them, can be just as troubling.

Many of the preachers identify themselves as so-called independent Baptists, meaning that they are not a part of any of the denomination’s groupings, such as the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Barrett-Fox said the Baptist emphasis on church autonomy — recognizing no central authority — allowed pastors to interpret the Bible for themselves.

“One of the consequences of that is you can get whole congregations that spin further and further away from the norm of what is accepted theology,” she said.

The independent Baptist churches where anti-gay hatred has flourished tend to have small congregations, more likely to number in the dozens than the hundreds, experts said.

Sermons posted online since the attack have been interspersed with dehumanizing labels for L.G.B.T. people reminiscent of those used by the perpetrators of historical genocides. The Orlando victims were “sodomites,” “reprobates,” “perverts” and “scum of the earth,” preachers have said.

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In a sermon at a church in Fort Worth, Pastor Donnie Romero told his congregants that every gay person is a pedophile. He was praying that the injured Orlando victims would not survive, he said, “so that they don’t get any more opportunity to go out and hurt little children.”

“I’ll pray to God that God will finish the job that that man started,” he added, referring to the gunman, Omar Mateen.

While the pastors have stopped short of calling congregants to arms, they say little to discourage it, either.

“I don’t believe it’s right for us to just be a vigilante,” said Steven Anderson, the leader of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Ariz., in a video response to the massacre. But, he added, “These people all should have been killed, anyway, but they should have been killed through the proper channels, as in they should have been executed by a righteous government.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, said it was alarmed by the comments of extremist pastors after the mass shooting in Orlando. Heidi Beirich, the center’s director of intelligence, warned that they should not be dismissed as empty rhetoric.

“I think it is entirely possible that someone could be inspired by this and kill gay people,” Ms. Beirich said. “This kind of message is exactly akin to Hitlerian ideas of exterminating Jews. It’s that extreme. It’s basically genocidal toward a population.”

Messages left with the pastors in Sacramento, Fort Worth and Tempe were not returned.

Of course, an overwhelming majority of Christians, including Baptists, reject hateful messages about L.G.B.T. people. As a video of Mr. Jimenez’s remarks was shared widely online, a group of more than 700 Sacramento area pastors denounced them. A petition calling for Mr. Jimenez’s removal collected more than 8,000 signatures. About 100 protesters gathered outside the church.


After the Orlando killings, some gay rights advocates have noted how far many mainstream religious leaders have shifted toward acceptance of gay men and lesbians since an earlier tragedy in 1973. Back then, when an arson fire at a gay New Orleans bar killed 32 people, churches refused to bury the dead.

Jay Brown, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, said the L.G.B.T. advocacy group was appalled by the incendiary comments of Mr. Jimenez and other pastors. “But on the other hand, we’ve seen an enormous amount of inspirational comments from faith leaders,” he said.

Mr. Brown recalled how Utah’s lieutenant governor, a Mormon, gave a speech in which he apologized for his role in perpetuating homophobia. Around the same time, a Catholic bishop in Florida issued a public call for believers to stop demonizing gay men, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people. On Sunday, Pope Francis said gays deserved an apology from the Roman Catholic Church.

However, while many conservative Christian leaders no longer want to be seen as anti-gay, the change in tone should not be interpreted as full acceptance, Dr. Barrett-Fox said. The “love the sinner, hate the sin” approach to homosexuality continues to be deeply woven into Christian thinking. 

Some of us gays believe that this pastor is abusing his freedom of speech by inciting to violence and therefore there most be a price to pay. Not a violent price but a price from his peers, landlord, and hopefully people that declare that they are Christians because language like this is what brought the instigation for the shooting in orlando in the first place. This so called pastor should keep in mind there have been pastors and their families that have died through shootings because of who they were. That is the best example to show to this man and others, that calling for violence is a risky proposition for all.

MIKE McPHATE

May 30, 2016

Strict Prominent SeminarianAccused of Having Sex with Students



                                                                         Monsignor Tony Anatrella during a conference in Lille (Nord, France).

 
(RNS) For years, seminaries and monasteries around France sent students and novices to Monsignor Tony Anatrella, a prominent French priest and therapist who has written disparagingly of gays, if their superiors decided the young men were struggling with homosexuality.

Now Anatrella, who argues that gay men cannot be ordained as priests, is facing mounting allegations that he himself had sex with male clients under his care, a scandal that could have repercussions all the way to the Vatican, where the priest is still regularly consulted on matters of sexuality.

The reports about Anatrella that have emerged in recent weeks also landed just as the Catholic Church in France has been embroiled in a crisis over charges that senior churchmen shielded priests even after they received reports that the clerics had molested children.


Anatrella stoked that furor earlier this year when it was revealed that he told new bishops at a Vatican-sponsored course that they are not obligated to report a suspected abuser to authorities even in countries where the law requires such reporting.

The Vatican quickly said that Anatrella’s remarks did not change church policy on reporting, and Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, head of Pope Francis’ new Commission for the Protection of Minors, issued a statement saying that beyond the requirements of civil law, all members of the church “have a moral and ethical responsibility to report suspected abuse to the civil authorities who are charged with protecting our society.”

Yet the allegations that Anatrella himself has engaged in sexual misconduct – accusations that were first broached a decade ago – pose a much greater threat to the priest.


So far, European media have relayed accusations from as many as four men – only one of whom agreed to be identified by his real name – who say that Anatrella engaged in various sex acts with them during counseling sessions in his Paris office, with the activity allegedly occurring up until a few years ago.

“You’re not gay, you just think that you are,” Anatrella reportedly told Daniel Lamarca, who was a 23-year-old seminarian when he first went to Anatrella in 1987.

According to Dutch Catholic journalist Hendro Munsterman, who first reported Lamarca’s story in Nederlands Dagblad, Anatrella told Lamarca he could rid him of his “pseudo-homosexuality” and sought to do so by performing sex acts on Lamarca.


“I know details about Anatrella’s body that could only be known to someone who has seen him naked,” Lamarca told Nederlands Dagblad.

Lamarca said that in 2001 he reported these episodes to the archbishop of Paris at the time, the late Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger. But Lamarca said nothing was done.

Then, in 2006, he told a liberal lay-run Catholic periodical, Golias, about Anatrella’s behavior; Lamarca’s was one of three accusations to surface that year, but because they involved adults and wound up being their word against Anatrella’s, civil authorities did not pursue the allegations.

The church also apparently took no action. Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois had succeeded Lustiger by that point, and he reportedly sent an email to all his priests expressing his support for Anatrella. Accusations from other ex-patients did not change the cardinal’s opinion and he spoke of a “gay lobby” working against Anatrella.

In recent weeks, another ex-seminarian, who goes by a pseudonym in the articles, told French outlets that he was counseled by Anatrella for 14 years, from 1997 to 2011, and that after the first few years Anatrella began “special sessions” that included episodes of mutual masturbation.

It is unclear how many of these accounts may also be the same ones that surfaced in 2006.

Anatrella has so far not responded to the latest allegations.

On May 13, the Archdiocese of Paris released a statement acknowledging that in 2014, the current archbishop, Vingt-Trois, received a written complaint, via a priest, from a patient of Anatrella’s who also made allegations of sexual exploitation. But the archdiocese said that because the complainant would not reveal his identity, the church could not pursue the matter.

In addition, the Paris archdiocese said that it received reports of other allegations regarding Anatrella late last month, also by way of a priest. “Because he could not act on the basis of anonymous third-party statements, the cardinal asked the priest to encourage the accusers to make personal contact (with the archdiocese) and lodge a formal complaint,” said the church statement.

The statement went on to say that “any person who has been a victim of sexual aggression (or their parents in the case of minors)” should personally contact the archdiocese to report it. “They will be received and listened to, counseled on what to do next, and urged to file a complaint with the judicial authorities,” it said.

Any person knowing “facts that justify a complaint or denunciation” should also report them to civil authorities, it added.

While Anatrella has been a familiar figure for decades in France, his controversial views gained wider attention in 2005 when he reportedly helped the Vatican, then headed by Pope Benedict XVI, a theological conservative, craft guidelines aimed at keeping gay men out of the priesthood.

Anatrella at the time also wrote a lengthy article in the Vatican daily, L’Osservatore Romano, stating that homosexuality was “like an incompleteness and a profound immaturity of human sexuality.”

According to a report from Catholic News Service, Anatrella wrote that gays are “narcissists” and said homosexuality is “a problem in the psychic organization” of a person’s sexuality. He said that for theological reasons the Catholic Church can only ordain “men mature in their masculine identity.”

On a practical level as well, he wrote, many of the sex scandals in the church happened because gay men, even if they vowed to remain sexually chaste, were ordained as priests and could not remain chaste.

Anatrella also provided a long list of warning signs that should alert seminary staff to the possibility that a seminarian is gay.

Among the signs he listed were students who had trouble relating to their fathers or who tended to isolate themselves, and those found viewing pornography on the Internet and who often saw themselves as victims.

Anatrella remains a consultant to the pontifical councils for the family and for health care ministry; in February, he was the main organizer of a major conference on priestly celibacy at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

French church leaders who have been on the defensive over reports that many of them failed to report priests who abused minors are set to announce new policies to protect children early in June.

 
By Tom Heneghan is a Paris-based correspondent David Gibson who is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.

May 21, 2016

Putin and the Cross


 

                                                                         
               

In mid-August, a radical Orthodox gang called God’s Will attacked an exhibition of Soviet-era art in central Moscow. They brought down their clubs especially hard on art they deemed blasphemous; items depicting icons, for example, or Orthodox saints. Condemnation from Russia’s cultural elite was swift. Viktor Shenderovich, an independent journalist, wrote that if the state did not move to isolate the leader of God’s Will “either…the state itself is criminal and shares his political beliefs, or that there is no state any more.”

The group’s leader Dmitry Enteo — a pudgy, bearded man who goes around in jeans and a T-shirt — was taken in for questioning, but quickly released. He received similar treatment after being arrested while at a protest the previous year. Russian state authorities are clearly not in the business of imprisoning Orthodox activists.

In fact, Vladimir Putin is closely allied to Orthodox hardliners. The most famous indicator of this has been the state’s treatment of the punk group Pussy Riot, who were put on trial after they screamed and smashed their guitars in Moscow’s Christ the Savior cathedral in 2012, and whipped through the streets by Cossacks when they protested anti-LGBT discrimination in the run up to the Winter Olympics in 2014.

The discourse of Orthodox activists and the conservative Orthodox priesthood mostly echoes the official line of the Kremlin, a convergence starting at the top with Patriarch Kirill, who recently blessed the Kremlin’s bombing campaign in Syria as a necessary “holy war.”

The Church was an important component of Tsarist autocracy and never strayed far from the Kremlin line when it was severely suppressed during Soviet times, and since then its growing role in society predates Putin. But Putin’s political entwinement with the Church has become more knotted, and has become was a much more visible alliance than anything seen in the 90s or 2000s.

The Church is flexing its new-found muscle. A youth music festival was recently canceled by the government when the church objected, and a major staging of a Wagner opera in Novosibirsk called off because it offended Orthodox tastes.

For Putin, the alliance with the Church offers the chance to advance an idea of Russianness that is defined by what it is not: not European, not soft, not Muslim nor any other religious minority, not multicultural and not newly invented but ancient and traditional, and very much not gay. Orthodoxy gilds this stance with a kind of Old Muscovy aesthetic and veneer of doctrinal coherence.

Pascal Dumont
There are potential fractures within this alliance. Competing claims to ultimate social authority can eventually butt against each other. The Kremlin looks to the Church for legitimacy, but what happens if the state and the church find their interests diverging? Objection to homosexuality from within the Church can seem visceral, unyielding, even existential. While the Kremlin has made even publicly proclaiming oneself gay a crime, it mostly allows (discreet) gay life to go on unchallenged. What happens if the Church decides this is entirely too tolerant?

Russian foreign policy priorities too are not always perfectly aligned with the Orthodox interests. The Orthodox religion represents various national churches though the Russian church is its largest denomination. In a 2013 editorial on Syria in the New York Times, Putin inveighed against nations considering themselves “exceptional” solemnly declaring that God had created them all equal. The following year he invaded Ukraine, causing major tensions between the Ukrainian Orthodox church and its sister organization in Russia.

National exceptionalism, as we see here, was bad until it was good. The Orthodox Church may find itself the victim of the same sudden shifts of logic.

Ilan Greenberg

December 7, 2015

Religion ‘a Killer' for Nigeria




                                                                           


From the professor of medicine who lectures at the prestigious University of Ibadan, to the almajiri destitute who roams the streets of Kano, to the wealthy real estate manager in Port Harcourt, to the lowly nomad of arid Baga, there is one thing that connects these people - religion. Religion permeates every facet of the Nigerian society and influences the collective mindset of its people. Religion supposedly makes people good except that the evidence does not support this claim.

From the professor of medicine who lectures at the prestigious University of Ibadan, to the almajiri destitute who roams the streets of Kano, to the wealthy real estate manager in Port Harcourt, to the lowly nomad of arid Baga, there is one thing that connects these people - religion. Religion permeates every facet of the Nigerian society and influences the collective mindset of its people. Religion supposedly makes people good except that the evidence does not support this claim. What we know is that our society is plagued by all the inequality, injustice and atrocities that one rarely encounters in the godless Scandinavian societies, to use just one example. Our high degree of religiosity has not translated into good governance and prosperity for our citizens. The reasons are not far-fetched, and are discussed below.

One thing is undeniable – our society needs a change of attitude and values. So how can we do things differently? 

Mr. Biodun Aiyegboyin teams up with the secular humanist and commentator on Nigerian socio-political and religious matters, Dr. Ijabla Raymond, to explore these issues, and more.

Biodun Aiyegboyin: Can you tell the readers a bit about yourself please?

Ijabla Raymond: Yes. I was born into a Christian family in northern Nigeria. I trained as a medical doctor at the University of Ibadan but I currently practise in the United Kingdom.

Biodun Aiyegboyin: So, how did your journey into atheism or agnosticism start?

Ijabla Raymond: I would say it began in the fourth year of medical school. A friend that I sang with in Deeper Life Campus Fellowship became ill with cancer. To cut a long story short, she suffered and died despite prayers that were said round the clock.

This made me to start asking difficult questions, particularly around the subject of suffering. I discussed these with various pastors that I encountered during the course of my journey but was not satisfied with the answers I got.

One day, I had what you might call an eureka moment - it occurred to me that perhaps the reason there were no satisfactory answers to my questions was because the whole God thing was made up.
I do not like labels a lot because they often mean different things to different people. I find that it is easier to describe who I am or what I believe in. My position is that – I have not seen any evidence to support the claim that God exists. Having said so, I'm very confident that if God exists, He is not the entity described in the Abrahamic religions. This position is based on my knowledge of these religions.
Biodun Aiyegboyin: I understand that you don't like labels. But I see that your belief aligns with agnostic atheism.
Ijabla Raymond: Yes, I think that description fits. I am also a strong advocate of secular humanism – the worldview that humanity is capable of morality and self-fulfillment without the need for the belief in God.
Biodun Aiyegboyin: You are an outspoken critic of religion generally. What motivates you?
Ijabla Raymond: You have observed correctly. I criticise religion generally, not just Christianity.

Let's begin by giving credit where one is due. Religion has done some good e.g. charities. In Nigeria, the missionaries built schools and hospitals, and abolished the killing of twins in Calabar.
But religion has also done a lot of nasty stuff e.g. jihadist terrorism, homophobia, the suppression of women's rights, witch-hunting, the exploitation of gullible and vulnerable people, the unending feud between African Christians and Muslims etc.

In my view, religion has outlived its usefulness. It may have served a purpose in the era of superstitions and ignorance. But we now live in the age of reason and tremendous scientific advancement, and I find it absurd that people should desire to regress to medieval mindset.

Contrary to what some religions teach, man is capable of independent morality without the need for a belief in god(s). Morality predates religion - if you disagree, you'd have to explain to me how Christians and Muslims know that slavery is wrong seeing as this is endorsed in their holy books.

I agree with Robert Green Ingersoll when he said: “Christianity has such a contemptible opinion of human nature that it does not believe a man can tell the truth unless frightened by a belief in God. No lower opinion of the human race has ever been expressed.”
Biodun Aiyegboyin: Some people will not agree with your opinion that religion served a purpose even back then. They might argue that religion has been, and continues to be a stumbling block to the overall progress of the human race. What is your view on this?
Ijabla Raymond: I can see their point. Like I said, you don't need religion to be a good person. I believe that's the case now, as it was 6000 yrs ago. And yes, religion has been, and still is, a stumbling block to human progress. In contemporary times, we have seen how America's evangelicals oppose stem cell research; how the Catholic Church condemns the use of condom thereby putting millions of Africans at risk of HIV/AIDS; how Pakistan’s anti-blasphemy laws have been deployed to kill muslim apostates, Christians and atheists. The examples are endless.
Biodun Aiyegboyin: You are a medical doctor and you practiced here in Nigeria before relocating to the UK. Medical doctors, as well as other professionals, are mostly religious around here. In fact, the motto of some big hospitals around here is "We care but God heals". What is your opinion on this? Do you think hospitals should promote faith over medicine?
Ijabla Raymond: Definitely not!!
I have not seen any evidence that prayers and fasting can heal illnesses. If that were the case, churches would have run hospitals out of work. Prayers make people (who are predisposed) to feel good about themselves. But that’s it – they never grow the limbs of amputees.

Most of my Nigerian friends (doctors) are Pentecostal Christians. They are well-educated people with several postgraduate degrees but, somehow, a lot of them still believe that evil spirits, witches and demons are responsible for diseases. They still believe that prayers and fasting can alter the outcome of illnesses. This makes me to draw the conclusion that religion has the power to make people to hold contradictory ideas at the same time, and that education in itself does not immunize against religious indoctrination. As you know, the leaders of many jihadist organisations are also well-educated people. The Nigerian underwear suicide bomber, Abdulmutallab, was a student in one of the UK's most prestigious universities. In 2007, Glasgow airport was nearly blown up by two medical doctors in a jihadist terrorist plot.

When I was in Nigeria, it was commonplace to see doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals preaching or praying loudly by patient's bedsides. You could walk to the ward and find nurses reading the bible whilst a patient was crying out in pain. I don't know how much these practices have changed. I have not seen these happen even once in the 10 years that I have lived in the UK. In this society, it is understood that prayers should not get in the way of medical treatment. It appears that rich Nigerians agree - they fly abroad to treat the most minor ailments!
Biodun Aiyegboyin: Indeed, not much has changed since your left. Perhaps the religiously indoctrinated mindset is one of the factors responsible for the poor state of our healthcare?
Ijabla Raymond: I think this is tenable even if it is difficult to prove. I know that poverty, poor health access and failure of governance can all lead to harmful health practices e.g. exorcisms and other forms of "spiritual" consultations which delay hospital presentations and often result in increased morbidity and mortality.
The poor state of healthcare in Nigeria is more easily explained by factors such as corruption, lack of visionary leadership, inconsistency of policies, brain drain, medical tourism etc. But the fatalistic nature of our religious beliefs means that we surrender problems that we can, and should, solve by ourselves to God.
Biodun Aiyegboyin: You live in a society that does not give special regard to religious beliefs, so I presume your non-belief is never an issue with friends and colleagues. How about your folks at home especially when you come visiting? How did they react to your non-belief?
Ijabla Raymond: My parents and siblings haven't stopped praying for me to revert to Christianity. They hope that God will "arrest" me someday like he did to apostle Paul. I am aware that some of my Nigerian Christian friends have been praying for me too. So I feel very special with all these prayers going on (smiles). My English family accepts me just the way I am.
I have met and befriended Christians here in the UK. From my experience, it usually takes a period of acquaintance before they talk about their Christian faith. So they are not in your face as is usually the case in Nigeria. I find this refreshing because actions speak louder than words. Back home, as you know, everyone goes to church or a mosque but our actions do not really reflect what we preach. I mean, look at the amount of corruption going on in Nigeria at both the individual and community levels!
Biodun Aiyegboyin: I notice that you focus mainly on Pentecostalism and Islam in your criticisms of religion. Let's take them one after the other. Pentecostalism is arguably the most popular brand of Christianity in Africa. What, in your opinion, is the problem with this ever-growing brand of Christianity?
Ijabla Raymond: Pentecostalism - now that's a big one! Permit to digress for minute.
Pentecostalism takes its name from the "Pentecost", the events of which are summarised in the book of Acts chapter 1. This was the day that the Holy Spirit supposedly appeared to the first Christians. The spirit enabled them to speak in tongues and carry out miracles.

Until Martin Luther's Reformation, everybody just did what the Pope told them. But from this moment, anyone could read the bible and interpret it as they saw fit. And then the divisions and denominations started. I think the last century has seen an explosion in the number of denominations like none before it. There are as many interpretations of the bible as there are people.

The Pentecostals emphasise communication with the Holy Spirit or "revelation". The problem with this is that anybody can claim that the voice in their head is from God. In fact, anyone can become a pastor. No qualifications are necessary- you just need to claim that God has “called” you. And there are many gullible people who would believe any claim or sentence that starts with "God".

The prosperity gospel is America's biggest export to Africa. It is a doctrine of greed, and I'm sorry to point out that this disease afflicts the Pentecostals most. In my view, the majority of Pentecostal pastors are in the business for money. Africa is so poor and corrupt that the surest way to make money is to do politics or church business. The European missionaries built free schools and hospitals from which many of these pastors benefited. Our Pentecostal African pastors have enriched themselves on the back of donations (tithes and offerings) from their congregations. But instead of giving back to their communities, they invest in diversified portfolios to create even more wealth for themselves and their families. They live large. Some of these pastors even own private jets – Bishop Oyedepo allegedly has four! Their schools and hospitals are well out of the reach of most of their followers who continue to donate to these churches in the hope of financial reward from God. Sadly, these pastors have successfully propagated the notion that Christian living or success in life is synonymous with abundance, luxury and ostentation.

Another evil of Pentecostalism is faith healing. This has become the most popular and assured method to fleece desperate and vulnerable people. You will notice that these pastors never grow the limbs of amputees but they are always making the blind to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear and so on. People even get paid by them to participate in carefully orchestrated miraculous healings during church services.

I am of the view that the government has a responsibility to protect vulnerable people from these types of exploitations. These charlatans should not be allowed to get away with making false representations particularly when these result in harm. As you know, many people delay their presentation to hospitals and some even stop taking their medications because of the assurance of miraculous healing they have been sold (or more correctly, that they have bought). Some have tragically died as a result.

Then there's the problem of witch hunting - if you fail an exam or a job interview, then a witch is behind it; if you have a miscarriage, a witch is responsible and so on. Not too long ago, Bishop Oyedepo slapped a young lady in front of the camera for no offence other than her claim of being a "witch for Jesus". And need I remind you that, instead of condemnation, his despicable action was greeted with a rapturous applause from his church members? This practice assumes an even more grievous dimension in many places in Southern Nigeria where children are commonly accused of witchcraft and subjected to severe corporal punishments, which occasionally result in their deaths. In one case, a three-inch nail was driven into the skull of a little girl! Regrettably, these witch hunting of children is promoted by Pentecostal pastors such as Helen Ukpabio.
Biodun Aiyegboyin: Do you agree that the success of Pentecostalism in Africa can be attributed largely to the inefficiency of government and the superstitious nature of our people?
Ijabla Raymond: Oh yes, without a doubt.

In general, religion thrives in poor or deprived societies. For instance, people will sooner consult pastors and traditional healers for health matters if hospitals are expensive, poorly resourced or inaccessible to them. Poor governance creates a vacuum which religion tries to fill. The result is what you see all over Africa.
But it appears to me that many politicians understand that religion is an effective tool for controlling the masses, and they play the religion card whenever it suits them.
Biodun Aiyegboyin: Faith healing, which you mentioned in your earlier response, is a cause for concern. A lot of people have died needlessly because they were instructed by their pastors to stop taking medication for their ailments. What do you think could be done to stop this irrationality?
Ijabla Raymond: Faith healing is a scam. Prayers and fasting do not heal diseases. If you believe that the bible is the literal word of God; if you believe in talking snakes and donkeys, then you will believe anything. In situations where their powers can be objectively tested, prayers and fasting crumble like a pack of cards. They never grow the limb of amputees. A lot of these so-called miracles are stage-managed. In the other cases, we never get to hear the true outcome of the testimonies that people give. Some people feel pressured to testify about faith healing even when they know there's has been none. Sadly, our journalists do not appear interested in investigating these issues.

The solution to this problem lies in education. That's what people like us are doing daily on social media - challenging dogmas. But I think the government has a big duty to protect vulnerable people from exploitation by those who make false representations. It is simple - prosecute anyone who makes false claims that result in harm to others!
Biodun Aiyegboyin: Now, let's talk about Islam. What is wrong with Islam?
Ijabla Raymond:  Well, what is right with Islam?  Look around you - from Australia, China, Malaysia, Russia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, the Middle East, North and West Africa, the UK, to the U.S. - everywhere you look, jihadist terrorism stares you right in the face. The Quran admonishes Muslim men to beat their disobedient wives. The prophet of Islam married a prepubescent girl, and because he is regarded as the best example of conduct, teenage marriages continue to be practiced in Islamic communities. The Sharia compliant states of Northern Nigeria have refused to adopt the Child's Rights Act which prohibits child marriage. As a result, there is a high incidence of vesico-vaginal fistulas in these communities. So, here again is another clear demonstration of how religious beliefs and practices can adversely affect health and wellbeing.

You'll recall how Senator Sani Yerima and his friends in the Senate blocked a change to existing laws in the Nigerian constitution that would have made teenage marriage illegal. He and his friends cited their Islamic faith as the reason for this action. The senator who allegedly paid $100,000 to marry a 13 year old Egyptian girl has made it clear on so many occasions that Sharia law takes precedence over the Nigerian constitution.

In Islam, women do not have the same rights as men. Then there is the issue of polygamy. In principle, I have no problem with polygamy as long as it is consensual. In reality, women are forced into polygamy by financial, cultural and religious considerations, and I oppose this.

I accept that many Muslims do not live as I have described, choosing instead to live by more liberal and humanist principles. Religious people are very notorious for cherry picking passages of their scriptures and this is good; because without it, religious literalists would have annihilated us by now. The Quran, like the Old Testament, is filled with hateful and bigoted verses.

The difference between Islam and Christianity is to be found in the New Testament, which contains the pacifist teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus taught his followers to turn the other cheek whereas Mohammed called on his followers to instil terror in the hearts of their enemies by beheadings and limb mutilations.

Today, if someone tells us that they are hearing voices in their head and that God has been speaking to them, we would question their mental health. However, billions of people around the world do not only refuse to undertake such scrutiny but they actually take offence that some folks have the common sense to question similar claims contained within the pages of medieval writings. I find this fascinating!
Biodun Aiyegboyin: Do you think if religions are reformed for example by removing the verses that promote segregation, violence, slavery etc, perhaps they could be of some benefit to humanity?
Ijabla Raymond: Morality predates religion. My view is that you don't need religion to be a good person. But I do think that the world would be a far better place if the violent and bigoted verses in religious holy books were expunged. For instance, we won't have jihadist terrorism and groups like Boko Haram, Al-qaeda and Alshabab; gay people will not be discriminated against; the internecine wars between religious groups (such as Muslims vs. Christians) or within religious groups (e.g. Shia vs. Sunni) would end.
Biodun Aiyegboyin: Finally, what do you think should be done to spread secularism and humanism in Africa?
Ijabla Raymond: This is already happening. I think the Internet is a very powerful tool for disseminating ideas and changing attitudes/values. My feeling is that secular humanism will be the dominant philosophy of the 21st century. It is my hope that Africa would be a lot different in 100 yrs from what we know now - less superstitious and more progressive.

BY DR. IJABLA RAYMOND & MR. BIODUN AIYEGBOYIN

December 5, 2015

The Pope Talks About Christian Martyrs inUganda but Forgot the Gays Which are Being Persecuted NOW


LGBT was not in the mind of this Pastor, teacher (as he calls himself) in Uganda

                                                                            
 This a Christian who may be gay may be not but was killed by ISIs. Uganda only wants it for Gays. Wouldn’t that be a nail on Christ when you judge your fellow h u m a n not by crime but by whom they are as humans.

(LifeSiteNews) – What our readers have been telling me they like about LifeSite is that nobody else is reporting what we report.

A great example was this week’s true story of the Ugandan martyrs, which came up when Pope Francis visited Uganda but which the Pope barely touched on. The true story is that the King Mwanga II of Buganda – what is today southern Uganda – killed 45 or 47 of the country’s first Christian converts (roughly half were Catholic and half Anglican) in his royal court because they rejected his homosexual advances.

Pope Francis isn’t the only one who left out this obvious but inconvenient truth. So did news organizations both liberal and conservative. The very liberal National Catholic Reporter glossed over the homosexual aspect, saying the martyrs were “burned alive for their faith under a persecution by a local king.” The National Catholic Register and the Catholic Herald in Britain, both conservative, also left out the homosexual aspect.

GetReligion.org, which reports on the mainstream news media’s coverage of religious issues, found one secular news organization that  got it right: CBS-AP. Get Religion faulted two of the most reputable for leaving out the homosexual angle: the New York Times and the BBC.

Since it’s right there in Wikipedia for even a lazy reporter to find, and since a story mixing religion and aberrant sexuality ought to be an easy call for any journalist, and since the African Church’s persistent hostility to homosexuality is a hot issue currently, this omission begs for an explanation.

The reason, I believe, is that the story doesn’t fit the prevailing narrative, which is that Africa’s “homophobia” is an import from Evangelical America. This I first encountered in 2010 at a lecture on Uganda’s then unpassed but highly controversial anti-homosexuality legislation. Giving the talk was a local professor whose topic was “Politics and the ‘Word of God’: Tangled Webs of Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill.”

In a voice dripping with condescension, the professor portrayed Ugandan mainstream Christianity (Catholic and Anglican) as primitive, emotional, and childlike. Ugandan “Christianity seems to have bypassed the Enlightenment and the Reformation,” he told us, making it clear that this was definitely a Bad Thing, because it meant that Scripture, in Uganda, would not be subjected to Reason.

Because of the Ugandans’ alleged guileless immaturity, the professor continued, they were easy marks for Yankee Evangelical Christians peddling homophobia. And while it is true that several important American Evangelicals – Scott Lively of Abiding Truth Ministries and Don Schmierer of Exodus did give workshops in Uganda warning religious leaders, quite justifiably, of the U.S.-led campaign to normalize homosexuality worldwide – what the learned professor left out was…well, the Ugandan martyrs.

Why? My guess is because those martyrs gave the lie to his presumption that the poor dear Ugandan Christians could not have come by their anti-homosexuality naturally or, more accurately, indigenously. It had to be an American import. This ignores not only the martyrs, but the inescapable fact that all across middle Africa, there has long been and is now a strong aversion to homosexuality in places the Americans never visited.

The professor had another putdown for Uganda. Noting that its leaders were vowing to set an example to the world by resisting the homosexual juggernaut with their tough law, he mocked them gently for thinking their little country could show the world anything.

So this professor not only left out the martyrs (as he later admitted to me, because he wasn’t sure it was important), but also somehow missed the Ugandan miracle: the country’s controversial success in turning back another juggernaut, not unrelated to homosexuality – the AIDS epidemic. Here Uganda had shown the world, and the world did its best to cover what the little country had to show.

While the rest of Africa adopted a three-part approach that was unsuccessful, based on risk reduction with condoms, testing, and drug treatment, Uganda developed its own ABC campaign, for abstinence, being faithful, and condoms if necessary.

The AIDS establishment, led by American homosexuals, pushed a methodology that stayed away from both traditional morality and behavior modification, because the Africans were deemed incapable of changing their innate promiscuity. But condom campaigns in Africa, honest observers were admitting, did not so much prevent infection as encourage multiple partners, whether or not condoms were worn (and frequently they weren’t, and aren’t, even available).

But in Uganda, the government teamed up with the churches and mosques and promoted behavior consistent with Christian and Islamic morality: no sex before marriage, and fidelity within it (“zero grazing” was how it was cleverly phrased for this pastoral people). Condoms were added as the final method not so much as an afterthought, but as a sop to the international aid agencies, for whom condoms had assumed sacramental status and who controlled the purse strings.

Uganda reduced AIDS prevalence in adults from 15% to 5%, a turnaround unparalleled in Africa. But with a third of the country’s GDP coming from foreign aid, it had to bow to the AIDS establishment eventually, sending its prevalence rate climbing to 9%.

Why is the AIDS establishment so opposed to behavior modification? Many homosexuals identify their sexuality with specific unnatural practices. They argue that giving them up would be an admission that there is something wrong with or abnormal about the practices (which certainly make it easier for men get AIDS).

This has turned into an article of faith: nobody should change his basic sexual practices to fight AIDS.

Just as the Iron Curtain once descended over Europe, in Winston Churchill’s immortal phrase, now a veil of silence is falling over public discourse, cloaking all negative references to homosexuality – in scholarship, in politics, in public health policy and foreign aid, and even in the Catholic press. No facts can stand in the way of the LGBTQ march toward normalization and celebrity.

October 16, 2015

Two Church Members Charged with Manslaughter in the Beating Death of their Teenager Son



                                                                         
The victim’s parents, Bruce Leonard, 65, and Deborah Leonard, 59, being arraigned in court 
             


It seems this church believed in physically beating the demons out of a sinner. Did they watch too many movies or read too much of the scriptures and interpreted them in a corporal physical way which is the way religious anti gay church goers interpret some scriptures that seem to  condemn gays to death? Some people get so involved in their own believes and their own faith that at one point they keep going and start making up where the scriptures stop. 

                                                                               -*-

A New York couple was charged with manslaughter in the death of their 19-year-old son after allegedly beating him for hours during a family counseling session inside the "sanctuary room" of an upstate Christian church, police said on Wednesday.

The victim's parents, Bruce Leonard, 65, and Deborah Leonard, 59, were arraigned on Tuesday and pleaded not guilty. They were being held in lieu of $100,000 bail each.

In addition, four of the couple's fellow parishioners were charged with assaulting the teenager's younger brother on Sunday at the Word of Life Church in Chadwicks, New York, about 50 miles (80 km) east of Syracuse.

“Both brothers were continually subjected to physical punishment over the course of several hours in the hopes that each would confess to prior sins and ask for forgiveness," Michael Inserra, chief of the New Hartford Police, said at a news conference.

Word of Life Church where Lucas 19, was killed by blows to the body in some kind of exorcism




Reuters was unable to reach representatives for the accused or the church.

The older brother, Lucas Leonard, died on Monday afternoon after being driven to a hospital by family members, who falsely told doctors the teenager had suffered a gunshot wound, police said. Leonard's injuries were consistent with blunt force trauma to his torso and extremities, police said.

New Hartford police and the New York State Police said they launched a joint investigation after being notified about the suspicious death.

Through interviews with church members, police said they learned that Leonard's 17-year-old brother, Christopher, had also been severely beaten during the counseling session. The sessions are held after church services and are typically led by a pastor or other church member, Inserra said.

Police sent tactical teams some time between Monday afternoon and Tuesday to the three-story, red brick church, where they eventually located Christopher on the second floor.

Christopher was being treated in an area hospital for blunt force trauma to his body and extremities and was in serious condition.

Sarah Ferguson, 33, the victims' sister, and fellow church members Linda Morey, 54, David Morey, 26, and Joseph Irwin, 26, were arrested on charges of assault in the second degree. They were being held in lieu of $50,000 each.

Several children were removed from the church and turned over to Oneida County Child Protective Services.

Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara said there was not enough evidence to charge the couple with murder.

Additional charges and arrests were pending, police said.

Investigators disclosed little about the Word of Life Church, which describes itself on the front of its parish simply as a Christian church.

August 4, 2015

When a religious Jew starts killing Gays, it shows how intolerant some in Israel remain toward homosexuality



Yishai Shlissel
 Ultra-Orthodox Israeli Yishai Shlissel, suspected of stabbing six gay pride marchers the previous day, is brought handcuffed to the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on July 31, 2015. Shlissel was released from jail three weeks ago after completing a 10-year sentence for a similar attack in 2005. Police said the suspect's detention was extended for 12 days while investigations continue into July 30 night's attack.  GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images
 
 Shira Banki, an Israeli teenager who died Sunday from wounds sustained at Jerusalem's gay pride parade last week, was laid to rest Monday. The 16-year-old -- a supporter of Israel's gay community -- was one of six people stabbed Thursday by an ultra-Orthodox Jewish attacker, and her death prompted a call for the Israeli government to crack down on religious extremism.

For many in Israel, the attack on the parade seemed like an isolated incident, as it was harshly condemned by governmental and religious leaders across the political spectrum. But for members of Israel's gay community, the violence underscored just how intolerant some in Israel remain toward homosexuality, even as the country has billed itself a haven of gay rights in an otherwise unfriendly Middle East.
"Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident," said Tom Canning, a spokesman for Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, a community center providing services for LGBT people in Jerusalem. "If you look at Israeli society in general, it's very positive toward LGBT communities...but there are still hotbeds of hatred and of homophobia, and that's where this murder came from."
Canning said he and others in the gay community -- still in shock and trying to make sense of last week's senseless violence -- viewed the attack as symptomatic of the government turning a blind eye toward extremist religious rhetoric. LGBT people in Israel are regularly victims of discrimination, he said. "It can be violence, it can be rejection of services, it can be slurs on the street," he said.
Jerusalem is considered a holy city to the three Abrahamic religions -- Islam, Judaism and Christianity -- and it is from Jerusalem's religious sects that the most viciously anti-homosexual rhetoric has often emanated.
"There's a general sentiment, very mainstream in Israeli society, that the LGBT community in Jerusalem should keep their head down, shouldn't be visible and that the pride march is seen as a provocation against religious people," Canning said.
Israel maintains some of the most liberal laws toward homosexuality in the Middle East. The country ended its ban on same-sex relations in 1988 and introduced anti-discrimination legislation in 1992. Its military allows gay citizens to serve openly.
Yet in other ways, the law remains beholden to conservative factions in the country, especially in relation to marriage and divorce, gay rights activists said. The government does not recognize same-sex marriages performed in Israel and gay couples are restricted from adoption.
In conservative religious communities, homosexuality remains a taboo topic, and many continue to hold hostile views toward gays and lesbians. In the Torah, homosexuality is referred to as an "abomination."
A significant wedge exists between religious and secular communities in how they view gay rights. A poll conducted in 2013 found that among secular Israelis, 61 percent said they felt the LGBT community should be accepted, compared to only a quarter of religious Israelis.
Knowing that violence was a possibility, Israeli police had a strong presence at last Thursday's gay pride parade. In 2005, the very same attacker, identified as Yishai Schlissel, was arrested after stabbing three people at the parade, and since then, the parade has regularly been the target of protest and smaller scale attacks.
Activists blamed the violence on the freedom with which religious communities espouse anti-homosexual sentiment, and were skeptical the recent condemnations by political and religious leaders would lead to any substantive changes. They said the Israeli government needed to take threats against LGBT people more seriously, rather than pass off extremists as "crazies." Beyond that, they want the government to embrace some of the same human rights activists in other democratic countries have been calling for, including gay marriage. 
"Now we have a government that is dominated by the right and religious parties, so I don't see anything changing in terms of law. It just won't happen with the current coalition," said Elizabeth Tsurkov, an Israeli human rights activist. "[But] I do think the LGBT community is now in a much more advanced stage in terms of our rights and recognition than 10 years ago when the previous stabbing happened," she said, noting the magnitude of the condemnations immediately following this attack.
A growing number of Israeli religious groups are starting to address same-sex preferences, and many are seeking to leave the door open to members of the gay community who want to maintain a religiously observant life. Tsurkov said over the last several years, more people have sought to reconcile their sexual preferences with religion, whereas in the past people regularly became secular after publicly coming out as gay.
Robert Saferstein, founder of Eighteen:22, a global think-tank of LGBT Jewish activists, said he believed change was looming. His organization takes its name from the verse on Leviticus that refers to homosexuality as an abomination, and is meant to open a discussion about LGBT rights across the Jewish diaspora.
He said Israel's Orthodox community has been lagging behind the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements -- all Jewish denominations generally considered more liberal and that tend to read the Bible less literally -- but was slowly starting to engage sexual identity more critically.
"There are conversations that are happening in the Orthodox world and in the Orthodox Jewish community that weren't possible even five years ago," he said. "We've seen incredible strides within parts of the Jewish communal world, including the Orthodox traditional community."

May 26, 2015

Cops Admonished Pastor for having Sex in car with another Man, Now $60k Missing from His Church



Kingsport pastor charged with felony theft from church
Boyd Watson Holder Jr.
                     
A Kingsport pastor has been arrested for allegedly siphoning more than $60,000 from his church's bank account, then putting the funds to his own personal use.

On Wednesday, a Sullivan County grand jury returned indictments against Boyd Watson Holder Jr., 44. Kingsport Police arrested Holder late Thursday night at the parsonage of Victory Apostolic Church on Kite Street.

Holder has reportedly served as pastor of the church since 2010. According to records, some members of the congregation brought concerns to police in early February of this year.

They alleged that between $70,000 and $100,000 had been discovered missing from the church's bank account, believing that the discrepancies coincided with Holder's tenure.

Holder was reportedly the only person who could access the funds, according to a KPD incident report — and when questioned about the money by church members, responded, "It is none of your business."

KPD detectives launched an investigation into the complaint, analyzing financial records of both Holder and the church. Findings of the criminal probe were presented to the grand jury this week, with a true bill returned that indicted Holder for theft of more than $60,000 and money laundering. Each charge is a Class B felony.

Citing an ongoing investigation, Kingsport police have declined to specify the exact amount of money believed to have been stolen from church coffers, or what Holder is alleged to have used them for.

Court documents state that witnesses to the grand jury included representatives from multiple financial institutions, a Kingsport auto repair business and websites Online Buddies and Farmers Only.

Along with the claims of stolen money, Holder appears in two additional KPD incident reports over the past six months. Both are also linked to Victory Apostolic Church.

At approximately 1:20 p.m. of Dec. 15, an officer observed a large, white passenger van in the rear parking lot of the vacant Stone East building, 2550 East Stone Drive. A check of the vehicle reportedly found two individuals engaged in sex acts.

One of those men, identified as Holder, allegedly apologized to police, then identified the van as belonging to his church. The officer told them not to "have relations in public," then ordered that they leave the property and not return.

A separate report chronicles an alleged physical altercation that occurred within Victory Apostolic on Sunday, Feb. 15. A man told police that when he visited to worship, Holder ordered him to leave. Holder reportedly demanded the visitor do so because he, "was not there for the right reasons."

When the complainant again refused — offering that he only "wanted to enjoy the service" — Holder allegedly, "grabbed him by his belt and attempted to lift him out of the pew." It was after other church members "politely" asked the man to leave that he complied, then called police to report the incident

KPD records don't specify a catalyst for the disturbance between Holder and the complainant. The latter ultimately declined to pursue assault charges, telling an officer that he "only wanted to make sure his side was heard."

As of early Friday morning, Holder remained held in the Kingsport jail on the charges of theft from the church. His bond was set at $35,000. 
Lyle Kincheloe is a former board member of the church. He says he was "kicked out" — along with several other congregational leaders — when they confronted Holder about missing funds.

He suggests Holder attained a stranglehold on the church and had "taken control to the treasury himself."

"We went on a Wednesday night to hold a meeting to dismiss him," Kincheloe told the Times-News. "We even had two Kingsport detectives with us. He told us he had done no wrong, we couldn't do this and couldn't have no meeting — so forth and so on."

"The former church members, and the ones he threw out, we are glad to see justice being served," added Kincheloe, who cooperated with the KPD in their investigation. "This upset a lot of Apostolic churches in the community. I hate it for people who believed in him.”
When the incident occurred with the pastor having sex inside a van the police report was shown to the congregation by a member who got hold of it. At the time the church stood by him and would not believe that the good Pastor would have sex with another man. “Woo Pastor’s just don’t go around having sex with other man inside cars. Ridiculous!” It’s not that  ridiculous if the good members of the church had been aware of the news that this sort of thing pops up quite a few times a year. Taken, usually is a motel not a used up, banged up van.

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