Clerical child abuse and American football


This 25 January 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

NFL’s Saints fight to shield emails in Catholic abuse crisis

The New Orleans Saints are going to court to keep the public from seeing hundreds of emails that allegedly show team executives doing public relations damage control for the area’s Roman Catholic archdiocese to help it contain the fallout from a burgeoning sexual abuse crisis.

Attorneys for about two dozen men suing the church say in court filings that the 276 documents they obtained through discovery show that the NFL team, whose owner is devoutly Catholic, aided the Archdiocese of New Orleans in its “pattern and practice of concealing its crimes.”

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Friday, January 24, 2020

American Football: Saints allegedly involved in Catholic abuse scandal

NFL franchise the New Orleans Saints are going to court to keep the public from seeing hundreds of emails that allegedly show team executives doing public relations damage control for the area’s Roman Catholic archdiocese to help it contain the fallout from a burgeoning sexual abuse crisis.

Lawyers for about two dozen men suing the church say in court filings that the 276 documents they obtained through discovery show that the NFL team, whose owner is devoutly Catholic, aided the Archdiocese of New Orleans in its “pattern and practice of concealing its crimes.”

“Obviously, the Saints should not be in the business of assisting the archdiocese, and the Saints’ public relations team is not in the business of managing the public relations of criminals engaged in paedophilia,” the lawyers wrote in a court filing. “The Saints realise that if the documents at issue are made public, this professional sports organisation also will be smearing itself.”

Saints lawyers, in court papers, disputed any suggestion that the team helped the church cover up crimes, calling such claims “outrageous.” They further said that the emails, exchanged in 2018 and 2019, were intended to be private and should not be “fodder for the public.” The archdiocese is also fighting the release of the emails.

The NFL, which was advised of the matter by plaintiffs’ lawyers because the Saints’ emails used the team’s nfl.com domain, has not commented on the case. NFL policy says everyone who is a part of the league must refrain from “conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in” the NFL.

A court-appointed special master is expected to hear arguments in the coming weeks on whether the communications should remain confidential.

The Associated Press filed a motion with the court supporting the release of the documents as a matter of public interest.

Ties between local church leaders and the Saints include a close friendship between New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond and Gayle Benson, who inherited the Saints and the New Orleans Pelicans basketball team when her husband, Tom Benson, died in 2018. The archbishop was at Gayle Benson’s side as she walked in the funeral procession.

Gayle Benson has given millions of dollars to Catholic institutions in the New Orleans area, and the archbishop is a regular guest of hers at games and charitable events for the church.

Lawyers for the men suing the church say “multiple” Saints personnel, including senior vice-president of communications Greg Bensel, used their team email to advise church officials on “messaging” and how to soften the impact of the archdiocese’s release of a list of clergy members “credibly accused” of sexual abuse.

“The information at issue bears a relationship to these crimes because it is a continuation of the archdiocese’s pattern and practice of concealing its crimes so that the public does not discover its criminal behaviour,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote. “And the Saints joined in.”

A Saints spokeswoman said yesterday that team officials had no comment.

Lawyers for the Saints acknowledged in a court filing that the team assisted the archdiocese in its publishing of the credibly accused clergy list, but said that was an act of disclosure — “the opposite of concealment.”

The fight over the emails is part of a flurry of claims filed against the archdiocese over its employment of George F Brignac, a long-time schoolteacher and deacon who was removed from the ministry in 1988 after a seven-year-old boy accused him of fondling him at a Christmas party. That accusation followed claims that Briganc abused several other boys, including one case that led to his acquittal in 1978 on three counts of indecent behavior with a juvenile.

Church officials permitted Brignac, 85, to act as a lay minister until local news accounts of his service in 2018 prompted his removal and an apology from the archdiocese. Last year Associated Press reported that Brignac, despite his supposed defrocking, also maintained access to schoolchildren and held leadership roles as recently as 2018 in the Knights of Columbus.

Following a new wave of publicity — in which Brignac told a reporter he had touched boys but never for “immoral purposes” — Brignac was indicted last month on a rape charge that could land him behind bars for the rest of his life. The prosecution came more than a year after a former altar boy told police that Brignac repeatedly raped him beginning in the late 1970s. Police said the abuse began when the boy was seven and continued until he was 11.

Jehovah’s Witnesses’ child abuse report, published?


This 13 March 2015 ABC TV video from the USA says about itself:

Candace Conti: Former Jehovah’s Witness Takes on Church over Sex Abuse Allegations

Candace Conti says the church failed to protect her from a predatory pedophile, which Jehovah’s Witnesses has denied.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Jehovah’s Abuse Report May Be Published, “Change Is Really Needed”

The leadership of the Jehovah’s Witnesses sees sexual abuse in their own circle as a limited number of incidents, which can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The organization demands that an “incorrect and unlawful” investigation report on child abuse, prepared by Utrecht University on behalf of the Ministry of Justice and Security, is not published.

The judge will rule on that request later at 4 p.m. If publication is permitted, then the report will probably be public shortly thereafter.

Reports of abuse by Jehovah’s Witnesses are to date preferably handled indoors, with elders – a kind of religious overseers – acting as policemen and judges in one. Victim and former Jehovah’s Witness Frank Huiting hopes the report will lead to a new policy. “A policy that finally puts the victim at the center. But unfortunately: the omens do not indicate that.”

Groninger Huiting was 15 when he told his mother what had happened to him between the ages of six and twelve. He slept badly, his grades at school were getting worse, he couldn’t help it anymore. Now he finally wanted to talk about that much older boy, the son of an elder, who, after studying the Bible, always took him to a locked room to ‘play school’.

Reporting was not an option according to the elders in his congregation. “The consequences would be huge, I was told. There would all be reports in the media about sexual abuse among the Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

Instead, the headquarters of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Emmen issued advice that he afterwards called “very harmful.” “There was a lot of focus on the perpetrator of the abuse. And not on me as a victim. A very nasty time.”

Frank had to talk to the man who had caused him so much damage. That dialogue mainly resulted in powerlessness; the perpetrator dismissed the issue as a relatively innocent experimentation by two sides. And the elders said there was no “proof” as long as there was no confession and no second witness. Frank was asked to forgive and forget.

It did not work. The abuse continued to haunt him in the following years. He met his wife, went to Delfzijl with her for a new start, but became depressed and sick. “I was so touched by my sense of justice. I simply couldn’t live with it. I realized: the healing that I need, it doesn’t work this way.”

“Isn’t that understandable?”

So he decided to fight within his community. When, in the end, that turned out to be ineffective, he felt that he could do nothing but get out. “Especially because I noticed that Jehovah’s Witnesses really had no idea how to deal with sexual abuse. The perpetrator did activities in which he was alone with small children. That is impossible to understand? All sorts of people were aware and yet things like this continue to happen. ”

He shared his experiences, anonymously at first, with Trouw daily. When that newspaper published its first stories, a stream of reactions came from others who turned out to have had similar experiences. Frank Huiting, who had since broken with the community, started the Reclaimed Voices Foundation with other ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses. It is committed to “the right of every child to grow up safely”. Reclaimed Voices now has around 300 cases of sexual abuse.

“Extremely critical report”

The House of Representatives called for an extensive investigation into the broader problem of abuse within the community, which may now be published one and a half years later. It is an extremely critical report, according to the fierce reaction by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who saw the document earlier.

According to Huiting, that response does not bode well for the chance that the Witnesses will adjust their policies. Admittedly, according to a new directive, there is now scope for making a declaration, but in practice members of the community do not feel secure enough for it. “It is said: “If you go to the police, the consequences are for yourself.””

“Would you still feel safe to tell your story to the outside world? Remember: that outside world is by definition a danger anyway, it belongs to the devil. You are told that you must obey God over people. And ‘the people’, that is also the government.”

Yet Huiting continues to hope for change. That professional help is called in with a report. That prevention is done. That you can be open without being excluded from your complete social network.

“I personally celebrate the day that I made my story public as my personal liberation day. Because I no longer participate in this closedness, in the taboo. Freedom has become the most important value in my life.”

UPDATE: Judge has decided the report can be published.

Ancient pre-Inca Pachacamac sculpture was coloured


This 2011 video is about the Pachacamac Idol.

From PLOS:

Pachacamac Idol of ancient Peru was symbolically painted

Chemical analysis of the statue reveals its age and original polychromatic design

January 15, 2020

The Pachacamac Idol of ancient Peru was a multicolored and emblematic sacred icon worshipped for almost 700 hundred years before Spanish conquest, according to a study published January 15, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Marcela Sepúlveda of the University of Tarapacá, Chile and colleagues.

The Pachacamac Idol is a symbolically carved wooden statue known from the Pachacamac archaeological complex, the principal coastal Inca sanctuary 31 km south of Lima, Peru during the 15th-16th centuries. The idol was reportedly damaged in 1533 during Spanish conquest of the region, and details of its originality and antiquity have been unclear. Also unexplored has been the question of whether the idol was symbolically colored, a common practice in Old World Antiquity.

In this study, Sepúlveda and colleagues obtained a wood sample from the Pachacamac Idol for chemical analysis. Through carbon-dating, they were able to determine that the wood was cut and likely carved approximately 760-876 AD, during the Middle Horizon, suggesting the statue was worshipped for almost 700 years before Spanish conquest. Their analysis also identified chemical traces of three pigments that would have conferred red, yellow, and white coloration to the idol.

This nondestructive analysis not only confirms that the idol was painted, but also that it was polychromatic, displaying at least three colors and perhaps others not detected in this study. The fact that the red pigment used was cinnabar, a material not found in the local region, demonstrates economic and symbolic implications for the coloration of the statue. The authors point out that coloration is a rarely discussed factor in the symbolic, economic, and experiential importance of religious symbols of the pre-Columbian periods, and that more studies on the subject could illuminate unknown details of cultural practices of the Andean past in South America.

The authors add: “Here, polychromy of the so-called Pachacamac Idol is demonstrated, including the presence of cinnabar.”

Methodist church split about homophobia


This 22 October 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Homophobic Comments Made to UMC Pastors in the LGBTQ Community

The following statements are actual things said to pastors who are members of the LGBTQ+ community in United Methodist Churches in Greater New Jersey. Some by congregants, some by other pastors.

We invited several pastors who identify as straight to read them aloud. They have not seen these statements before being filmed.

Read more here.

By Orion Rummler in the USA, 3 January 2020:

Methodist church proposes plan to split over LGBTQ inclusion

United Methodist Church leaders announced plans on Friday for a historic split of its 13 million-plus denomination over allowing same-sex marriage within the church and LGBTQ clergy members.

What’s next: The church is expected to vote on the measure to implement the division of America’s second-largest Protestant domination at the general conference in Minneapolis this May.

Flashback: Momentum for the separation got underway last February, when the church’s “Traditional Plan” — to maintain status quo of banning LGBTQ clergy and same-sex marriages — won over a new, LGBTQ-inclusive plan.

Details: The proposal for a formal split was reached between progressive and traditionalist groups within the church, including the Reconciling Ministries Network, which has advocated for LGBTQ inclusion in the Methodist faith since the 1980s.

The proposal says that the right-wing homophobes will get $ 25 million when they will split.

Some well-known Methodist homophobic politicians were British Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and United States Republican President George W Bush.

Indian anti-religious discrimination demonstrators killed


This 2 January 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Death Toll Rises in India as Protests Against Modi Government’s Citizenship Law Intensify

In India, the death toll amid the government’s crackdown on widespread protests has risen to at least 27 people, and over 1,000 more have been arrested. The protests are against a controversial new citizenship law, which provides a path to Indian citizenship for undocumented immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan — unless they are Muslim. Opponents of the law say it’s a step toward the official marginalization of India’s 200 million Muslims. Paramilitary and police forces were deployed in response to the demonstrations in Muslim-majority districts in Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi, and the internet was shut down. We go to Mumbai for an update from Rana Ayyub, global opinions writer for The Washington Post, where her latest piece is headlined “India’s protests could be a tipping point against authoritarianism.”

Nationwide general strike in India Wed January 8th ‘DOWN WITH MODI!’: here.

Stunning display of strength rocks India as a fifth of the population goes on strike: here.

Tens of millions of Indian workers, youth and rural toilers joined a one-day nationwide general strike yesterday to protest the Bharatiya Jananta Party (BJP) government’s pro-investor and communalist policies: here.

India: Mass protests against Modi’s anti-Muslim Citizenship Amendment Act continue: here.

Indians demonstrate against religious discrimination


Indian anti-discrimination emonstrators in Kolkata

By Arun Kumar and Palash Roy in India:

India: Protests against anti-Muslim citizenship law in Kolkata

1 December 2019

Kolkata, the capital of the east Indian state of West Bengal, witnessed large protest rallies over the past week against the anti-Muslim citizenship law. The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which is aimed at creating a Hindu communal state or Hindu Rashtra, was rammed through the national parliament by the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its allies in early December.

The CAA determines citizenship in India on religious basis for the first time since formal independence in 1947. It will grant citizenship for non-Muslims from three Muslim countries in South Asia—Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan—who or whose ancestors have arrived in India before 2015. However, that opportunity will be denied to all Muslim immigrants from South Asia and also anyone from other countries in the region.

The anti-Muslim communalist character of the CAA is being implemented alongside the extension of the reactionary National Register of Citizens (NRC) throughout the country, as announced by Home Minister Amit Shah, the right-hand man of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Under the NRC, all 1.3 billion Indian citizens must provide documentary proof of their citizenship to the satisfaction of government authorities. Those who fail to do so will be declared “non-citizens” and face the threat of detention and eventual expulsion.

WSWS reporters attended an anti-CAA protest rally held in Kolkata on December 21 and distributed WSWS articles in English, Hindi and Bengali. Several thousand people, including students, intellectuals, and professionals and workers, took part in the rally. Our correspondents talked to participants and discussed the vital political issues raised by the Modi government’s communalist measures.

Sumita Shaw

Sumita Shaw, a student from Jadavpur University, said: “The CAA which tends to provide citizenship for persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians from selected neighbouring countries is clearly an attempt on the part of the government to push its manifesto of ‘Hindu Rashtra.’ This act is disguised in the name of ‘compassion and brotherhood,’ but on deeper examination is intended to exclude Muslims from Indian citizenship or to reduce them to a status of second-class citizens later by implementing the NRC nationwide.

“This CAA has altered the constitutional citizenship act of 1955 and made religion the basis of its [the BJP’s] vote bank politics for the coming state elections. It has already started working on its plan by sparking off communal hatred and shutting down the internet in different places so as to block dissenting voices.

“We cannot let the colonialist policy of divide and rule to be successful again through this Modi-Shah fanaticism. It’s high time that we come out for our liberty, democracy, citizenship and economy. We don’t want a national register of citizenship or the CAA rather the government should go for national register of unemployed.

“The economy is in deep crisis and this government always has this tendency to keep generating new issues so that people get entangled in the new one and forget the old one. We can’t afford to let this strategy grasp us again and again. We can’t accept the saffronisation of the Indian democracy [Hindu communalism]. The communal divide has to be uprooted.”

Tina Dutta

Tina Dutta, a student from the same university, said: “The world is a global village. So I don’t think we need borders. I condemn discrimination of every sort. World is one—we all bleed red. We all have the same skin. Humanity is the only religion. Love and kindness, these are everything we need right now. Spread love not hate. Spread kindness. Let us all unite and become one.”

Harende, an engineering student, commented on the general atmosphere: “Everybody is feeling insecure. There is growing apprehension regarding their fate. They are not sure of what is going to happen next. The people could not see the whole picture. The political situation in the country is heading towards fascism.

“I was not concerned about politics two years ago. However, as I began to realise the scary social impact of the political situation, I have begun to pay attention to the developing political events.

“Home Minister Amit Shah claims the UN human rights resolution is not applicable to India. This talk by a minister is clearly posing risks to basic democratic and human rights. Those in power don’t want to listen to the voice of the people.

“The ruling elite is suppressing human rights and the peace of mind of the majority of people. Before coming to power, Modi boasted about generating millions of new jobs. This demagogy was used to rally the support of the youth and people for BJP’s electoral victory. Nevertheless, after Modi came to power, we didn’t witness job generation but instead job destruction.”

A section of the protest in Kolkata

Priyanjali Paul, a clinical psychologist, said: “Unity in diversity! That’s the first thing I learnt about my country, my India. We are unique, because we are diverse in nature. And our constitution has made it possible to live together despite so much of diversity. Today, that constitution is in danger. And as citizens of India, it’s our duty to safeguard it.

“What is a government? It’s of the people, for the people and by the people. The current government has completely changed the meaning of governance in a democracy. They are trying to change the basic structure of the constitution by repeatedly attacking secularism, the right for freedom and dignity of people, and the right for information.

“We want answers. And yes you [the government] are bound to give answers because you have power because of us. We, the citizens of India have elected you. So, yes you have to answer. Where is the data of the unemployment rate? Or the data of the farmer suicide rate in the last two years? Or the data on the effect of demonetization? And many more?

“To distract us from these issues, now they have brought the NRC and CAA, which are not only discriminatory but also impractical. Their spokespersons are not even clear about the Act. They can’t answer half the questions asked about them.

“I am a clinical psychologist, and I have had clients from the interior parts of this country (both Hindus and Muslims). These people (who make up 70 percent of the population) don’t even know what they will eat tomorrow or where they will live next year. How can you possibly expect them to have all documents securely kept [to prove their citizenship]?

“India is already statistically the most depressed country in the world. Now such steps by the government have only created anxiety and panic. Do they even care about people’s mental health? However, amidst all this negativity, I am happy to see my country fighting back. I am happy to see people on the streets, despite such oppression.

“This is my India. This is what democracy stands for. And no matter what they say, despite your religion, caste and economic status, all of you who are fighting for safeguarding our constitution are true nationalists!”

M. Kaji, a small shop owner in Kolkata, said: “On a day-to-day basis people are struggling to eke out their life. Most of the working people are experiencing great hardship. There is unemployment, the economy is in very bad condition, and the GDP is declining. What we see is that social problems have intensified under BJP rule. They have not solved any of the basic issues people are facing. Instead they have brought a more brutal law—the CAA. This will bring a lot of pressure on ordinary people, particularly Muslims, and will divide the poor people.

“But I see it’s not just a problem for Muslims. If somebody thinks like that it means they don’t understand the situation. It will affect Hindus too. Look at Assam and what’s happened there! Out of the 1.9 million people who have been taken off the NRC list in Assam, the majority are Hindus!

“I have not been interested in politics before. But now I feel I can’t be silent anymore. It’s the BJP, particularly Modi-Amit Shah duo and their brutal inhuman policy that has forced me to stand up and protest against it.”

She commented on the discriminatory nature of the documentary requirements under the NRC: “How will poor people show their papers? For instance, in many places almost every year floods take place and entire belongings are swept away by the floods. Then what is there to show the officials?

“It is outrageous what the authorities are now saying. For a long time, they insisted one should have as a proof of identity, the Indian Voter Identity card or Aadhaar card [a card with a 12-digit individual identification number issued by authorities]. Then why are they now demanding something else as proof?

“You know how much time and energy we have spent to get these cards. Now they came out with another thing, the NPR [National Population Register]. Even though Modi government and its ministers are saying that the NPR is nothing to do with the NRC, that’s not true. They are trying to fool us. But this time they can’t do it. They are also aware of the fact that this time people are not going to take it easily. We have no other way but to oppose this discriminatory CAA- NRC-NPR.”

Racists in United States National Guard


This 14 November 2015 video from the USA says about itself:

The New Religion Of Choice For White Supremacists

On Monday, three Virginia men were charged with plotting to attack and bomb black churches and Jewish synagogues, reportedly with the goal of triggering a “race war” in the United States. Suspects Ronald Chaney and Robert Doyle, who FBI officials say are also plotting to kill a local jewelry dealer and rob an armored car, were outspoken white supremacists, bound by a common desire enact violence against Jews and African Americans.

Read more here.

2 KICKED OUT OF NATIONAL GUARD FOR WHITE SUPREMACY TIES Two men have been kicked out of the Army National Guard after liberal activists uncovered their membership in a religious group with white supremacist ties. The Atlanta Antifascists group published a report this year saying Brandon East and Dalton Woodward were leaders of the Norse pagan group Ravensblood Kindred. The group is part of the Asatru Folk Assembly, which researchers say endorses white supremacy. [AP]