‘Stop homophobic Islamophobic preacher from entering Britain’


Donald Trump and Franklin Graham

This photo shows United States President Donald Trump with one of his fundamentalist right-wing religious supporters, the preacher Franklin Graham, son of preacher Billy Graham.

By Katharine Swindells in Britain:

MPs are trying to ban anti-gay preacher Franklin Graham from entering the country

10th December 2017, 3:50 PM

An invitation to evangelical preacher Franklin Graham to speak at an event in Blackpool has sparked huge backlash.

A number of MPs, including a [Conservative] government minister, are pushing the home secretary to refuse Graham UK entry.

They argue that his anti-gay and Islamophobic remarks constitute hate speech, breaking British law.

A petition against him being granted a visa has already collected over 6,500 signatures.

Graham, who spoke at Trump’s inauguration, has previously said that gay people are causing a “moral 9/11”.

He has also said that gay people are the enemy and should be thrown out of church, and that LGBT activists help ‘sexual predators and perverts’.

“As a Christian and as a leader of a church that particularly welcomes LGBT people, I’m horrified that other local churches are inviting someone with this record of hate speech,” Nina Parker, petition organiser and pastor at Liberty church in Blackpool, told the Guardian.

In addition to homophobia, Graham has called Islam “an evil and very wicked religion,” linking all Muslims to extremist groups such as ISIS.

Parker says there was an “enormous amount of protest from Christians in the north-west,” against Graham’s planned appearance at the Lancashire Festival of Hope, at Blackpool Winter Gardens next September.

Paul Maynard, Conservative Blackpool MP and a minister at the Department of Transport, has been among those calling on Amber Rudd to stop Graham’s entrance into the country.

Gordon Marsden, Labour MP for Blackpool South has joined him, saying Graham’s views are “incompatible with what Jesus said in the Bible”.

“I think frankly the evidence is piling up that his visit to the UK … would not be a good thing and not probably in my view a very Christian thing”, he told BBC Radio Lancashire.

Afzal Khan, a Labour MP who has worked for the Home Office on race relations and preventing extremism, expressed concerns to the Guardian about Graham sowing division.

“His views are not welcome, and I will make representation to the home secretary if it looks like he is intent on coming.”

The Blackpool festival is organised by the Billy Graham Evangelical Association (BGEA), of which Franklin Graham is president and CEO and is being supported by a number of Anglican clergy and churches in the Blackpool area.

Blackpool vicars Andrew Sage and Tracy Charnock are calling on the bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson to condemn Graham’s views.

I have good relations with Muslims and gay people in my parish, and everyone is welcome at the church where I’m the parish priest”, Sage said.

“This is not in my name, and I’d like the bishop to distance himself from it.”

A Tory MP invited an Islamophobic extremist to Parliament. Anti-racism groups are outraged: here.

On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court denied a request to hear the case of a female security guard, Jameka Evans, who alleges employment discrimination because of her homosexuality. The high court’s refusal to hear the case leaves the ruling from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, against Evans, in place: here.

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Roman empire religion, archaeological discoveries


This video from the ancient city Doliche in Turkey says about itself:

Some impressions of the field research on the Dülük Baba Tepesi during the excavation campaign 2013 conducted by the Forschungsstelle Asia Minor.

From the Religion and Politics — Cluster of Excellence at WWU Münster in Germany:

More than 1,000 ancient sealings discovered

December 7, 2017

Classical scholars from the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” of the University of Münster discovered a large number of sealings in south-east Turkey. “This unique group of artefacts comprising more than 1,000 pieces from the municipal archive of the ancient city of Doliche gives many insights into the local Graeco-Roman pantheon — from Zeus to Hera to Iuppiter Dolichenus, who turned into one of the most important Roman deities from this site,” classical scholar and excavation director Prof. Dr. Engelbert Winter from the Cluster of Excellence explains at the end of the excavation season. “The fact that administrative authorities sealed hundreds of documents with the images of gods shows how strongly religious beliefs shaped everyday life. The cult of Iuppiter Dolichenus did not only take place in the nearby central temple, but also left its mark on urban life,” says Prof Winter. “It also becomes apparent how strongly Iuppiter Dolichenus, originally worshipped at this location, was connected with the entire Roman Empire in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD: many of the images show the god shaking hands with various Roman emperors.”

The excavation team has been exploring the temple of the soldier god Iuppiter Dolichenus for 17 years. This year, the team focussed on the urban area. “Under a mosaic dated to 400 AD within a complex of buildings, we were able to uncover an even older mosaic floor of equally high quality,” Prof. Winter explains. “According to the present findings, there is much evidence of a late antique church. This could turn out to be an important contribution to understanding the history of early Christianity in this region.” The excavations in the three-local aisled building complex began in 2015. Up to the present, 150 square metres of the large central nave bordered by columns have been uncovered. Engelbert Winter: “Apart from the architecture, small finds from the surrounding area also point to the existence of a church, such as the fragments of a marble table or the mentioning of a deacon attested by an inscription.”

“City centre discovered”

The researchers have now also discovered the public centre of the city of Doliche, which they had first located in the eastern part of the city by geophysical prospecting. “This assumption has been confirmed,” the excavation director explains. “We were able to uncover parts of a very large building: it is a public bath from the Roman Iron Age with well-preserved mosaics. Since hardly any Roman thermal baths are known so far in the region, this discovery is of great academic importance.” The research team from Münster also gained new insights to the extension of the urban area and the chronology of the city: an intensive survey carried out this year on the settlement hill of the ancient city, Keber Tepe, led to quite surprising results. “A large number of finds from the Stone Age indicate that Keber Tepe was obviously an extremely important place very early on. Doliche reached its greatest extent later, in the Roman and early Byzantine periods.”

Excavation director Winter says about the large number of discovered sealings: “Many sealings can be attributed to the administrative or official seals of the city due to their size, frequent occurrence, and in some cases also due to inscriptions. In addition to the images of the ‘city goddess’ Tyche, the depictions of Augustus and Dea Roma deserve special attention, since they point to the important role of the Roman emperor and the personified goddess of the Roman state for the town of Doliche, which lies on the eastern border of the Roman Empire. However, the central motif is the most important god of the city, Iuppiter Dolichenus. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, his cult spread into large parts of the Mediterranean world, extending as far as Britain,” explains Prof. Winter. Therefore, it is not surprising that hundreds of documents were sealed with images showing a handshake between this deity and an emperor. “It was a sign of the god’s affinity to the Roman state.”

The images also provide insights into the cult itself. In addition to sealings showing busts of Iuppiter and his wife Iuno, there are depictions of the divine twins Castor and Pollux, the sons of Zeus. “The sons of Zeus, also known as Dioscuri or Castores Dolicheni, are often portrayed as companions of Iuppiter and therefore play an important role in the cult,” Prof. Winter explains.

Archaeological park for tourists

Under the supervision of Prof. Winter from the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics,” the Asia Minor Research Centre of the University of Münster has been excavating the main temple of Iuppiter Dolichenus with the support of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) since 2001. Each year, the international group of archaeologists, historians, architects, restorers, archaeozoologists, GIS analysts and excavation assistants have uncovered finds from all periods of the 2,000-year history of the place of worship. Among them were the massive foundations of the first Iron Age sanctuary, numerous monumental architectural fragments of the Roman main temple, but also the extensive ruins of an important Byzantine monastery which was built by followers of the Christian faith after the fall of the ancient sanctuary. In order to make the excavation site near the ancient town of Doliche accessible to a broad public, an archaeological park is being developed. Prof. Winter’s research project at the Cluster of Excellence “Religion and Politics” is closely connected with the excavation. It is titled “Syriac Cults in the Western Imperium Romanum.”

Vatican child abuse cover-up


This video says about itself:

26 July 2012

A former Vatican insider shares details of the sex-abuse epidemic.

Having reached extraordinary heights in the Catholic Church and served in the Vatican embassy during the sexual abuse epidemic, Fr. Thomas Doyle turned away from the religious order in response to the spiraling and far-reaching cover-up. Privy to some of the most sensitive dealings of the church, Fr. Thomas provides us with a very rare perspective on the abuse, response and cultural framework that allowed it to happen …

Fr. Thomas names names as to who he feels are directly responsible, and shares with us how the sordid affair has changed his own spiritual relationship to the church.

GUEST BIO:

Thomas Doyle was ordained a Dominican priest in 1970 in Dubuque, Iowa. He did graduate studies in philosophy, and theology at the Aquinas Institute of Philosophy and Theology and political science and Soviet Studies at the University of Wisconsin. He pursued further graduate work in Canon Law at the Gregorian University, Rome, Catholic University of America, the University of Ottawa and St. Paul’s University, Ottawa. He was awarded a Doctorate in Canon Law in 1978.

In addition Father Doyle studied addictions therapy at the Naval School of Health Sciences and is a fully certified Alcohol, Drug and Addictions therapist. He holds MA degrees in philosophy, theology, administration, Canon Law and political science as well as his doctorate in Canon Law.

He has served as a consultant and expert witness on several hundred clergy abuse cases before the civil courts in nearly every state in the US as well as in Ireland, Israel and Canada. He has been involved with support groups for clergy sexual abuse victims and as a legal consultant for cases in Belgium, England, Mexico, Italy, Australia, New Zealand and Spain. He has appeared before eight State legislatures and has been a consultant and expert witness for several Grand Juries in the U.S.

He has written several books and articles on a variety of subjects related to Church law and practice. Included among these are one book and twelve articles on the clergy abuse crisis. He co-authored Sex, Priests and Secret Codes with Richard Sipe and Patrick Wall. Tom Doyle has lectured extensively throughout the U.S., in Canada and in Europe on the clergy abuse issue.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Vatican threat to sue altar boys who allege abuse

Saturday 25th November 2017

THE Roman Catholic church has threatened to sue former Vatican altar boys over their allegations of sexual abuse.

Lawyers for the Italian diocese of Como have also warned Italian investigative news programme Le Iene (Hyenas) not to broadcast the boys’ claims and have purportedly pressed a church official to recant his suggestion of a cover-up.

The Associated Press agency reported yesterday that it had seen a letter from Opera Don Folci association lawyer Riccardo Rolando Riccardi to one of the alleged victims.

Mr Riccardi said he was preparing a criminal defamation case in Rome’s tribunal “for the alleged crime committed by the divulgation of news to the press about alleged acts of sexual assault that allegedly occurred.”

He demanded that the former student submit to questioning or face interrogation by Rome prosecutors.

The association runs the St Pius X preseminary in the Vatican, where accusers allege that a former student — ordained as priest this year — demanded sexual favours for years from boys as young as 13.

Reporter Gaetano Pecoraro interviewed an ex-student — identified a “Marco” — who said the seminarian, who was a year older than him and in a position of authority, started abusing him from when he was 13 and continued until he was 18.

Marco’s roommate Kamil Jarzembowski said he had witnessed dozens of incidents. He first reported them to seminary officials, and then in writing to cardinals and finally to the Pope in 2014.

Internal church investigations, which initially did not interview the boys in question, declared the claims to be false.

The former students, including another who reported a groping incident when the seminarian was 20 and he was 15, have gone public with their allegations to Le Iene and in a book.

Televangelist accused of human trafficking, rape


This video from the USA says about itself:

Televangelists: God Says We Need Another Private Jet!

16 January 2016

There’s an insane phenomenon called “prosperity gospel” where preachers tell their audiences to send them tons of money so they can live lives of luxury/private jets. Cenk Uygur, host of the The Young Turks, breaks it down.

“If you’ve ever wondered why some Christian preachers must hopscotch the globe in fancy private jets, it’s in part so that they don’t have to get on commercial planes with the “demon” common folk.

Preachers from the so-called “prosperity gospel” movement, Kenneth Copeland and Jesse Duplantis, tried to explain their controversial need for their followers to give up their hard-earned dollars so they can fly in luxury in an interview posted Wednesday.

Copeland then pointed out he could “scratch my flying itch” by riding around in his single-engine, open-cockpit plane.

“But we’re in soul business here,” he said. “We got a dying world around us. We got a dying nation around us. And we can’t even get there on an airline.””

Read more here.

From eNCA in South Africa:

Two women held for human trafficking

Wednesday 22 November 2017 – 6:24pm

PORT ELIZABETH – Two women have been arrested for allegedly recruiting girls for a Durban-based televangelist who stands accused of human trafficking and rape.

Some of the alleged victims are girls as young as 13.

The duo, aged 28 and 36, are alleged to have recruited the girls during church crusades around the country.

At the first bail hearing for the disgraced pastor, the Hawks chief investigating officer said recruiters would target vulnerable girls from poor homes with no father figures.

The women are expected to appear in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s court on Friday.

A teacher at St Paul’s girls’ school, a prestigious private school in west London which has been at the centre of historical sexual abuse allegations, has resigned after being implicated in some of the claims: here.

Girl abused, Pentecostalist church covered up


This Dutch video is about the House of Heroes, a fundamentalist Pentecostalist church, headquartered in Nijkerk, the Netherlands; led by senior preacher Mattheus van der Steen. He claims to be an ‘apostle’ getting messages from God Himself directly. The video shows a service in which Van der Steen and his wife Rebekah are declared to be anointed by God.

Two weeks ago, 38-year-old preacher of that church, self styled ‘prophet’, Michaël D., in charge of the church’s children’s department, was on trial for sexually abusing a girl member, his foster daughter, from when she was 15 till she was 21.

Married ‘prophet’ Michael and his wife justified the abuse saying that 15-year-old Lisa (a pseudonym) had supposedly ‘seduced’ him. Every time after the abuse, the ‘Reverend‘ Michael had Lisa pray with him, confessing ‘their’ sins to the Lord. The prophet claimed the girl was possessed by Satan and his demons, and he had to abuse her ‘in the name of Jesus’, while speaking in tongues, as usual by Pentecostalist preachers. Lisa hated the abuse, saying softly ‘Don’t’, but feared that resisting more strongly would be ‘against God’.

There was hardly a day without being abused.

Abused Lisa complained to apostle Mattheus van der Steen. The Reverend Michael D. admitted the abuse to the church leadership. There was an audio recording of that. But the Right Reverend Van der Steen had that proof against ‘prophet’ Michael D. removed, and did not go to the police, but covered up.

According to journalist Karel Smouter, who did much research on this, there is a pattern of covering up scandals in this church. Also in a child rape case in 2012 in Uganda, a miraculous discovery of gold in a bible, and fraudulent claims of faith healing by church missionaries in Burma (Myanmar).

In 2016, another House of Heroes church member, Marijn de V. was convicted for abusing five and six-year-old girls. The church leaders tried to cover up, telling the girls’ parents not to go to the police. After the parents did go to the police, the House of Heroes excommunicated them. If the mother now meets ex-coreligionists in the street, they look away from her. While Marijn de V. is once again a church member in good standing.

Rebekah, the Right Reverend Apostle Van der Steen’s wife, has filed for divorce. ‘I have discovered that my husband whitewashes predators’.

Clerical child abuse in Argentina


This 22 February 2017 video from Italy is called “We abused deaf children, we were at least ten”, the confession of Provolo’s priest.

From Associated Press today:

Clerical sex abuse disclosures skyrocket in pope’s Argentina

By LUIS ANDRES HENAO and ALMUDENA CALATRAVA

CASEROS, Argentina (AP) — Karen Maydana says she was 9 years old when the Rev. Carlos Jose fondled her at a church pew facing the altar. It was her first confession ahead of her first Holy Communion.

She blames the trauma of that moment in 2004 for a teenage suicide attempt. And yet she never spoke about it publicly until this year. After hearing that two women who attended her school in the Argentine town of Caseros were allegedly abused by the same priest, she joined them as complainants in a case that in July led to his arrest for investigation of aggravated sexual abuse.

“Unfortunately, there are many of us. But speaking about it now also gives you strength to carry on,” Maydana, 22, said. “I have a 9-year-old niece who’s receiving her Communion this year, and this is not going to happen to her.”

The allegations are part of a growing trend: While Pope Francis struggles to make good on his “zero tolerance” pledge to fight clerical sex abuse worldwide, victims in his native Argentina are denouncing abuses in unprecedented numbers. An analysis by The Associated Press shows that the number of clerics publicly identified as alleged sexual abusers has increased dramatically in the last two years.

Experts attribute the spike to a cultural shift as victims feel more emboldened to denounce abuse, prosecutors are more inclined to investigate complaints of even decades-old abuse, the media are increasingly aggressive about reporting them and courts are willing to hand down stiff sentences.

“It’s a domino effect,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, a U.S.-based group that compiles a clergy abuse database.

In the U.S., confidential files on hundreds of pedophile priests have been released either through civil litigation, settlements or court order. The contents have revealed that top church officials worked behind the scenes to control the sex abuse scandal and keep it from authorities as well as parishioners.

“What is really remarkable here is that the survivors in Argentina don’t have the same powerful legal tools that we see in other countries,” Barrett Doyle said. “And yet, we’re still seeing the significant increase in cases.”

The AP compiled a list of 66 priests, nuns and brothers who have been accused since 2001 of abusing dozens of people, most of them children. The figures were gathered from testimonies by victims, judicial and church documents, and local media reports corroborated in conjunction with the BishopAccountability.org database. The number of new reports remained in the single digits each year from 2000 to 2015. But since the start of last year, victims have named 21 more, most accused of decades-old abuse.

“In Argentina, the abuse crisis is just beginning,” said San Francisco Bishop Sergio Buenanueva in Cordoba province, who leads a church council on clerical abuse. “I’m sure the Argentine church is going to face increasing numbers of these disclosures.”

To deal with the expected increased caseload, he said the church is planning to create its first comprehensive database of clerical abuse. Buenanueva also recently returned from the Vatican, where he met with members of Francis’ sex abuse advisory commission to discuss prevention policies for Argentina, including training of clergy to detect potential abusers and victims.

Abuse survivors are taking action too. Maydana, and her schoolmates Mailin Gobbo, 29, and Yasmin Detez, 25, recently visited the church and adjacent school they had attended to describe to journalists what had happened, saying they hoped it would help protect children. Four other women have joined their case since they reported the priest to law enforcement.

“I don’t care about exposing myself as long as it leads other people to talk,” said Gobbo, who decided to speak publicly after the birth of her daughter.

The priest is accused of abusing Gobbo and Detez at a pool and at their school.

“He’d make me sit on his lap and ask me if I had been naughty while he kissed my neck and fondled me,” Detez said while Gobbo shed tears next to her.

Jose has told the court he is innocent and said the statute of limitations has expired in any case. He is appealing the arrest order.

Some of the accused remain in the ministry. In several cases, no canonical or judicial investigation was carried out. Some were probed and dismissed. Others, especially in recent years, have led to arrests and convictions.

A court in Entre Rios province this year sentenced a Colombian priest, the Rev. Juan Diego Escobar Gaviria, to 25 years in prison for sexually abusing four boys, one of them 10 years old. It was one of the stiffest sentences handed down to date against a pedophile priest in Argentina.

“I feel satisfied with the sentence,” said Alexis Endrizzi, 18, who was molested by Escobar when he was 12. “It sided with the victims.”

Two other priests are awaiting trial on pedophilia charges after they were accused this year in the same small province.

In one of the most shocking cases, prosecutors say at least 20 children at the Provolo Institute for deaf and mute children in Mendoza province were abused. Some of the victims say they were molested by an Italian priest, the Rev. Nicola Corradi, who also had been accused by some of the dozens of abuse victims at the Provolo’s school in Italy but never faced justice there. Corradi, now elderly, was formally charged by Argentine prosecutors in November and is under house arrest awaiting trial in Argentina. Corradi’s attorney declined to comment on his client’s plea or any other detail of the case.

Advocates of priestly abuse victims question how Francis could have been unaware of the allegations against Corradi since he was publicly named by the Italian victims starting in 2009 and most recently in 2014.

One of the cases that has festered for years is that of the Rev. Hector Ricardo Gimenez, who had been detained after several abuse complaints in 1985 and 1996, but was freed by the courts.

In 2013, Julieta Anazco led other women in publicly confronting Gimenez as he celebrated Mass at a hospital chapel, accusing him of abusing her and many others as children decades before.

“He’d jump into the shower with the excuse of washing us,” said Anazco, who went on to become president of the Survivors’ Network of Ecclesiastical Abuse.

The Archbishopric of La Plata Archbishop said in a statement to the AP that the church had found Gimenez guilty of previous abuses and that he had been banned from ministerial duties, a common church sanction for elderly priests accused of abuse.

It also said that Archbishop Hector Aguer had met with Anazco in 2015, heard her complaints and “shared the cruelty of these crimes and the importance that no one guilty of them remains unpunished.”

Anazco’s criminal complaint initially was dismissed, but was later reopened and remains pending, according to her attorney.

The AP tried to reach Gimenez, who is in his eighties, at the nursing home where he now lives in the city of La Plata but he declined to comment.

No official numbers on clerical abuse have been published by Argentina’s church, government or its judicial system, and the issue is still something of a taboo.

But Pope Francis tried to break the stigma by phoning Rufino Varela after he revealed that he had been abused as a child by a priest at a school that Argentine President Mauricio Macri also attended. Other students at the school told the AP that they suffered abuse by the same priest, who has since died.

Francis has pledged “zero tolerance” for abuse, but he has also said he never had to confront the issue as archbishop of Buenos Aires, where he served from 1998 to 2013. Recently, he has acknowledged that the church was “late” in recognizing the scale of abuse and the damage it wreaked on victims, and said the practice of cover-up and moving pedophiles around was to blame.

Many Argentine victims of abuse say they feel abandoned by the church.

“You realize the complicity, the cover-up of the church hierarchy that goes all the way up to the Vatican,” Anazco said.

Associated Press writers Nicole Winfield at the Vatican and Paul Byrne and Victor Caivano in Buenos Aires contributed to this report.

The war against Pope Francis. His modesty and humility have made him a popular figure around the world. But inside the church, his reforms have infuriated conservatives and sparked a revolt. By Andrew Brown.