American Atheists’ Super Bowl Billboard Makes Fun of ‘Hail Mary’ Prayer

 

Wicked atheists:

American Atheists is putting up a new billboard making fun of prayer outside Metlife Stadium in New Jersey, where the Super Bowl is scheduled to take place on Sunday.

The 14 feet by 48 feet billboard features a man in a priest uniform with the text “A ‘Hail Mary’ only works in football. Enjoy the game!” referring to the Roman Catholic prayer to the Virgin Mary and also the name of a long-forward pass in football.

“Prayer is superstition, plain and simple,” AA President David Silverman said in a statement.

“It trivializes the dedication of the players and takes away from their achievements. A third of football fans pray in hopes of helping their team. These are adults we’re talking about – people with children, people with careers, people who vote. It’s 2014; it’s time to stop believing that prayer works. Give credit where credit is due and celebrate what this is really about-coming together to cheer on hard-working athletes doing what they do best.”

Managing Director Amanda Knief noted that people of all religions, as well as atheists, come together during the Super Bowl, and noted that the organization, one of the biggest secular ones in the country, is excited to be part of the event.

The atheist group has become famous for putting up billboards that target religion throughout the country. In December 2013, it had a billboard in New York’s Times Square claiming that “nobody” needs Christ during Christmas.

“This year, start a new tradition: Don’t go to church. You hate it, it’s boring; you probably only go because you feel guilty or obligated. Instead, spend more time with your family and friends – or volunteer. There are better uses of your time and money,” Silverman said about the Christmas tradition.

The billboard prompted State Sen. Andrew Lanza from Staten Island, N.Y., to run a petition calling for the “immediate withdrawal” of the ad as it lacks “decency, civility and kindness.”

“It seems to me that this is part of a continued ‘War on Christmas’ and also upon the belief and value system of millions of Christian, Jewish and Muslim people who have faith in God,” Lanza commented. “Religious persecution of the kind that similarly led to the Holocaust began with small baby steps of ridicule and hatred of the religious beliefs of others.”

 

Exorcisms Via Skype?

So it would seem:

The age-old practice of exorcism is getting updated thanks to the use of modern technology by a reverend in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Reverend Bob Larson claims he has performed more than 20,000 exorcisms in the past four decades.

Now he is giving possessed people the option of having their demons banished from their bodies via Skype.

A 60-minute Skype exorcism costs $295, and is considered a tax-deductible donation to the International Missions Program.

Skype’s cheap rates allow Larson to connect with allegedly possessed people from all over the world, including one of his most recent clients, a Norwegian man named David, who supposedly had four demons inside him.

During one encounter filmed by ABC15.com, one of the demons mocked Larson by asking, “Are you Bob the Builder,” followed by a maniacal cackle straight out of the “Tales From The Crypt” TV show.

Larson has numerous exorcism videos on YouTube, including this one where he claims to exorcise a gay demon.

Some skeptics think the over-the-top antics by the allegedly possessed souls are a sign that it’s all just a show, but Larson denies those allegations.

“It’s real,” Larson told the station. “There would be no reason to theatrically stage this for any reason. Why would anybody do that? I have no idea.”

However, Larson’s Skype exorcisms are making other religious leaders cross.

Reverend Isaac Kramer, the director of the International Catholic Association of Exorcists, an organization that trains and ordains new exorcists, says exorcisms can’t be done over the Internet.

“If a person is fully possessed, the demon inside of them will not let them sit in front of the computer screen to be exorcised,” Kramer told Vocativ.com. “Chances are, they’re going to throw the computer screen across the room and destroy everything.”

Crazy stuff.

 

Nigeria Bishop Tells of Church ‘Slaughter’

The BBC:

Army patrolling the town of Maiduguri in Borno state (30 April 2013)

A senior cleric has spoken of how suspected Islamist militants “slaughtered” some 30 churchgoers in north-eastern Nigeria on Sunday.

The Bishop of Yola told the BBC the insurgents had locked the church and “cut people’s throats” in Waga Chakawa village, Adamawa state.

On the same day, militants also attacked Kawuri village in neighbouring Borno state, killing 52 people.

Both assaults were blamed on the Islamist Boko Haram group.

The organisation – whose name means “Western education is forbidden” – is especially active in the north-east of the country.

Boko Haram wants to impose a severe form of Islamic law, and has been blamed for thousands of deaths…

The Bishop of Yola, Mamza Dami Stephen, said parishioners had told him about what happened on Sunday morning.

They described how the insurgents had arrived on trucks and locked the church “towards the end of the service”.

“Some people tried to escape through the windows and the [attackers] shot at them,” the bishop said.

The militants set off bombs, before burning houses and taking residents hostage during a four-hour siege.

The bishop said locals were gripped by terror.

“Everybody is living in fear,” he explained.

“There is no protection. We cannot predict where and when they are going to attack. People can’t sleep with their eyes closed.”

Horrific.

 

Natural Disasters: Is God in Control?

Via Joy’s January Edition:

The number of natural disasters striking the earth today is unprecedented; monthly we hear of an earthquake or hurricane ripping through entire islands and countrysides. The devastation that follows is usually so systemic, that is takes years, if not decades, for people and countries to recover. And yet as each new disaster hits, the same age-old question emerges (asked by believers and non-believers alike): “Why would God allow such a catastrophe?”

For some Christians, the irrefutable answer is that God is Sovereign and can do what He pleases, and we can rest in the knowledge that it is ultimately part of His great plan for bringing mankind to a place of reckoning and for those who accept it, redemption.

Is God in control of the weather? For other believers though, the notion that God would either actively cause such tragedy, or that reactively, He would allow it, is incongruous with the belief that He is a good God who came “to give us life abundant” (John 10:10).

Rather, for those who view God this way, they would say that because the world is fallen and cursed, that natural disasters are in fact just that – either caused by the effects of nature at war with itself, or by the devil who, as “the prince of this world” has authority to unleash evil and destruction (1 John 5:19) as part of his purposes “to steal, kill and destroy.”  (John 10:10).

Jesus-centred view For others, though God may allow some natural disasters, and even cause them, He is not specifically involved in each one. They base this on the notion that Jesus (as God incarnate on earth) demonstrated a love for people that supersedes the immediate call for judgement (through natural disasters or other means). One respected theologian noted in response to the Japanese Tsunami of 2011, that, “the Jesus revealed in the Bible healed, restored, and raised to life.

Indeed He did warn and admonish, but never with destruction and death. He rebuked the disciples who wanted to call down fire from Heaven on His detractors (Luke 9:54). When one of His followers cut off the High Priest’s servant’s ear, Jesus admonished the disciple and healed the man’s ear. Throughout Scripture we see that God always warns before He destroys or judges a nation. If there was no distinct warning from God, then I do not believe the Japanese tsunami was an act of punishment or judgement.”

For a prominent Christian pastor, it is critical to realise that the devil has power in this world (though admittedly it is power granted to him for an allotted time by God.)

This pastor explains, “The Old Testament story of Job is a classic example of how God sometimes allows satan to bring calamities. Job lost his cattle, crops, and family to vicious attacks, a killer hurricane, and firestorm. Job’s friends said these disasters came from God, but a careful reading of reveals that it was satan who brought these evils. (Job 1:1-12).”

Another perspective For another theologian (I withhold names because often as Christians we polarise our responses to difficult theological questions and lose the point of the message when we know of the messenger), God is most certainly in control of the weather and can work His purposes for good, in the midst of hopeless destruction.

Acknowledging the laws of nature In a response to the recent typhoon that ravaged the Philippines, he had this answer for the journalists questioning God’s role: “Tragedies cause many people to question God’s goodness. It is distressing that natural disasters are often termed “acts of God” while no “credit” is given to God for years, decades, or even centuries of peaceful weather. God created the whole universe and the laws of nature (Gen 1:1).

Most natural disasters are a result of these laws at work. Hurricanes, typhoons, and tornados are the results of divergent weather patterns colliding. Earthquakes are the result of the earth’s plate structure shifting. A tsunami is caused by an underwater earthquake.

The consequences of the Fall The Bible proclaims that Jesus Christ holds all of nature together (Col 1:16-17). Could God prevent natural disasters? Absolutely! Does God sometimes influence the weather? Yes, as we see in Deuteronomy 11:17 and James 5:17. Numbers 16:30-34 shows us that God sometimes causes natural disasters as a judgement against sin. The book of Revelation describes many events which could definitely be described as natural disasters (Rev 6, 8, and 16). Is every natural disaster a punishment from God? Absolutely not.

In much the same way that God allows evil people to commit evil acts, God allows the earth to reflect the consequences sin has had on creation. Romans 8:19-21 tells us, “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the One who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”

The Fall of humanity into sin affected everything, including the world we inhabit. Everything in creation is subject to “frustration” and “decay.” Sin is the ultimate cause of natural disasters just as it is the cause of death, disease, and suffering.

Why would God allow this? We can understand why natural disasters occur. What we do not understand is why God allows them to occur. Why did God allow the tsunami to kill over 225 000 people in Asia?

Why did God allow Hurricane Katrina to destroy the homes of thousands of people? For one thing, such events shake our confidence in this life and force us to think about eternity.

Saving the lost Churches are usually filled after disasters as people realise how tenuous their lives really are and how life can be taken away in an instant. What we do know is this: God is good!

Many amazing miracles occurred during the course of natural disasters that prevented even greater loss of life. Natural disasters cause millions of people to re-evaluate their priorities in life. Christian ministries have the opportunity to help, minister, counsel, pray, and lead people to saving faith in Christ!

Resting in His love One of the greatest challenges we have as Christians is to somehow continue to believe God and to trust Him in the midst of horrendous devastation. When you see children being separated from their fathers and mothers, when you see hundreds of people dead, it is very natural to ask, “Where is God?”

We can wrestle with these questions till Christ returns, and we can attempt to answer the critics of Christ in all sincerity, but ultimately, the ways of God are higher than the ways of man; His thoughts supersede our reasoning. Ultimately this is what we know: God loves us, He died for us and offers to those who follow Him, a glorious eternity. 

To think about:

Do you believe God is in control of the weather?

• Are natural disasters a punishment of the nations?

• Does satan have authority over the weather at all?

• Do you believe the world will end in our lifetime?

HT:  Fr David MacGregor

 

Rise of the Exorcists in Catholic Church

Forty years after The Exorcist scared the wits out of cinema audiences around  the world, the Roman Catholic Church is training up a new generation of  priests to meet a growing demand for exorcisms.

In The Telegraph:

Dioceses across Italy, as well as in countries such as Spain, are increasing the number of priests schooled in administering the rite of exorcism, fabled to rid people of possession by the Devil.

The rise in demonic cases is a result of more people dabbling in practices such as black magic, paganism, Satanic rites and Ouija boards, often exploring the dark arts with the help of information readily found on the internet, the Church said.

The increase in the number of priests being trained to tackle the phenomenon is also an effort by the Church to sideline unauthorised, self-proclaimed exorcists, and its tacit recognition that belief in Satan, once regarded by Catholic progressives as an embarrassment, is still very much alive.

The trend comes four decades after the 1973 release of The Exorcist, the American horror film based on the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl and attempts to exorcise her by two priests.

The diocese of Milan recently nominated seven new exorcists, the bishop of Naples appointed three new ones a couple of years ago and the Catholic Church in Sardinia sent three priests for exorcism training in Rome, amid concern that the Mediterranean island, particularly its mountainous, tradition-bound interior, is a hotbed of occultism.

In Spain, Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, the archbishop of Madrid, chose eight priests to undergo special training in May to confront what he described as “an unprecedented rise” in cases of “demonic possession”. The Church in Spain was coming across many cases that “go beyond the competence of psychologists” and they were occurring with “a striking frequency”, the archbishop said.

“Diabolical possessions are on the increase as a result of people subscribing to occultism,” said Fr Francesco Bamonte, the president of the Italy-based International Association for Exorcists. “The few exorcists that we have in the dioceses are often not able to handle the enormous number of requests for help,” he told La Repubblica last month…

You can read on here.

 

Satanic Group Unveils Goat-Head Statue

The Washington Times:

 Satanic Temple members just unveiled their design for a 7-foot-tall statue of Satan they want to locate at the Capitol building in Oklahoma, right next to a monument of the Ten Commandments that has stood since 2012.

And to many, the design may prove shocking.

The Associated Press reported an artist’s depiction shows Satan as the goat-headed and horned figure of Baphomet, complete with wings and a long beard. The Satan figure is shown sitting on a throne decorated with pentagrams, in the middle of a few smiling children.

“The monument has been designed to reflect the views of Satanists in Oklahoma City and beyond,” said Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the group, in a statement reported by the AP. “The statue will also have a functional purpose as a chair where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation.”

The group is based in New York, but says it’s not fair for Oklahoma lawmakers to let a Ten Commandments statue stand at the building, without also allowing monuments that reflect other spiritual beliefs, The Associated Press reported. The Ten Commandments statue was privately funded. The American Civil Liberties Union sued to have it removed shortly after it was place, AP reported.

And the Satanic Temple isn’t the only group seeking equal access to the site.

The AP reported that a Hindu head in Nevada wants to put a monument at the Capitol, along with an animal rights group and the — satirical — Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. In response, the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission has put a moratorium on deciding new requests.

But it’s the Satanic Temple request that’s sparking ire among Bible Belt residents and politicos.

“I think you’ve got to remember where you are,” said Rep. Don Armes, in the AP report. “This is Oklahoma, the middle of the heartland. I think we need to be tolerant of people who think different than us, but this is Oklahoma and that’s not going to fly here.”

The group, meanwhile, said it’s already raised $10,000 to build the monument — about the half the amount members estimate is needed.

“We plan on moving forward one way or another,” Mr. Greaves said, in the report.

Pray this evil plan fails.

 

Christian Persecution Expected to Rise in 2014

Vatican Radio reports:

The persecution of Christians is expected to rise in 2014, according to a nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise awareness about Christian persecution and to offer pastoral and practical support to persecuted Christians around the world.

Release International has highlighted two challenging areas for Christians this year, said spokesperson Andrew Boyd.

The first, he said, is “the continuing rise of Islamist persecution” in the form of militant groups that are seeking to change the governments within their countries and to take power, in particular, in Afghanistan and Nigeria, which are both set for elections this year.

The Taliban in Afghanistan, he said, will likely increase its attacks as NATO troops pull out by the end of 2014. In Nigeria, the Islamic militant group Boko Haram has already declared war on the Nigerian president and on Christians, said Boyd.

The second challenging area is the communist and post-communist world. Boyd identified North Korea to be the biggest concern. “North Korea has headed many organizations’ lists as the worst persecutor of Christians in the world for quite some time now,” he said.

He also identified a particular dynamic in countries of Central Asia, where majority-Muslim populations and a background culture of communism come together. Though constitutionally secular, in nations “where you have a strong Islamic culture and a strong communist culture, there you have really quite a great deal of oppression,” Boyd said.

Elaborating on the situation in Afghanistan, Boyd explained that “anyone who converted to Christianity (has) either faced persecution by the state or risked being murdered by their relatives”.

“There are Christians who are active in Afghanistan and there are Muslims who are wanting to convert. The numbers may be small but the oppression against them is absolutely severe and the authorities today are turning a blind eye to persecution in that country,” he said.

Boyd said the situation in Afghanistan is important to understand, despite the few Christians there, because it serves as “a reflection of what is happening in other countries, where there’s a hardening of religious fundamentalism against Christianity and against anyone who would like to change their faith.”

Christians, heeding the words of Jesus, know there will always be persecution, stated Boyd. “But that doesn’t mean that we stay silent about it,” he added. Scripture urges Christians to both remember those who suffer and to speak out against injustice, he continued.

“There is a need for advocacy. There is a need to say that this (persecution) is wrong,” he said. “Governments need to be taking action to do something about this. Laws are unjust. They need to be changed.”

Listen to the full interview with Andrew Boyd: RealAudioMP3

 

Dog Bites, Gang Attacks and Beatings…

all in the life a 21st Century vicar.

Call for attacks on religious leaders to be made a hate crime as police records give glimpse of tide of everyday violence against priests and vicars from attacks with sticks and stones to being bitten by dogs and even people…

Rest here.

 

Christians Killed in Bomb Attack As They Leave Christmas Day Service In Iraq

A scary place to be a Christian. The Tablet:

More than thirty five people have been killed and others wounded in a series of bomb attacks on Christians in Iraq on Christmas Day.

A car bomb, detonated outside St John’s Catholic church in the Dora area of Baghdad, killed at least 26 people and wounded 38 others as they left a Christmas day service, officials said on Wednesday.

Earlier two bombs at a market in the al-Athorien district, a majority Christian area, killed at least 11 people and injured 21 more.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks but Christians have been victims of escalating violence in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

 

Topless Woman Disrupts Christmas Mass. Jumps on Altar.

A naked FEMEN protester ruined Christmas mass at the main cathedral in Cologne.
The woman climbed onto the altar and started screaming.

Details and a video here.

Nothing is sacred to these people. Pravda reported:

An activist of FEMEN women’s movement staged a protest action during a Christmas mass in the main cathedral of Cologne, Kolner Dom. The topless girl climbed onto the altar of the cathedral in protest against the Vatican propaganda of criminalization of abortions.

The woman displayed a slogan “I am God” written on her body.

“FEMEN demands Vatican elders and their fanatical followers should stop producing medieval chimera and bring religious dogma in line with the modern world and human rights,” a press release from the movement said.

 

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