Southern Religion

‘Anonymous’ musical interlude

Found while lurking at an Anonymous forum:

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Churches, Cultural | , , | 4 Comments

War on ‘season’s greetings:’ Phase II

The Santa hats in the new American Humanist Association ads confuse us.

They seem to enrage the Liberty Council, which says:

The American Humanist Association is waging war against Christmas, but their temper tantrum is doomed to failure. An overwhelming percentage of people in America believe in God and celebrate Christmas. Rather than advance its “Godless” agenda, the American Humanist Association has shown just how far out of step it is with reality.

Now, the Liberty Counsel isn’t really threatening to “sue everyone who doesn’t say ‘Merry Christmas,'” no matter what the Grinch Wing Watch says. They’re just sayin’:

Liberty Counsel’s Friend or Foe Christmas Campaign is entering its seventh year. The campaign is designed to educate and, if necessary, to litigate to make sure that the Christian aspect of Christmas is not censored.

Not feeling any “Season’s Greetings” love here. Just smiling, singing war.

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Cultural, Politics | , , , | Comments Off on War on ‘season’s greetings:’ Phase II

Clemmons was part of a pattern of negligence [Updated]

Matthew Yglesias has an incomplete point. There was nothing unreasonable, on the surface, about Mike Huckabee’s granting clemency to a someone given 60 years for burglaries committed when he was 17.

Unless Huckabee commuted Maurice Clemmons sentence when the court record showed Clemmons had demonstrated a propensity for violence and there was no evidence he had been rehabilitated.


The circuit court made its foregoing findings and decision to grant postconviction relief based on pretrial events that occurred at Clemmons’s burglary and theft trial held before Judge Floyd Lofton. Clemmons’s defense counsel, Llewellyn J. Marczuk, testifying at the postconviction hearing, related that, at the earlier trial, a security guard had reported to Judge Lofton that Clemmons had taken a hinge from one of the courtroom doors, hid it in his sock, and intended to use it as a weapon. The hinge was found and taken from him before he harmed anyone. In another incident, Clemmons extracted a lock from a holding cell, and he later threw the lock which hit his mother. During this second episode, Clemmons purportedly threatened Judge Lofton. In a third incident, Clemmons reportedly reached for a guard’s pistol during his transportation to the courtroom. Based on these occurrences, Judge Lofton placed Clemmons in leg irons and seated a uniformed officer near him during trial. This court upheld Judge Lofton’s remedial actions in Clemmons. 303 Ark. at 267-269, 795 S.W.2d at 928-929.

Recidivism quickly made Clemmons a frequently cited example of Huckabee’s recklessness with commutations and pardons. Garrick Feldman of the Arkansas Leader wrote in June of 2004:

[Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry] Jegley cites numerous examples of Huckabee’s freeing felons who go on committing more crimes and wind up back in prison.

Maurice Clemmons received a 35-year sentence in the early 1990s for armed robbery and theft. His sentence was commuted in May 2000, and he was let out three months later.

The following March, Clem-mons committed two armed robberies and other crimes and was sentenced to 10 years. You’d think they’d keep him locked up after that, but no: He was paroled last March and is now wanted for aggravated robbery.

If Huckabee decides to set these criminals free, Jegley says, at least “he ought to give an accounting. I can’t imagine why in the world they’d want them released from jail. There’s a good reason we’re afraid of them. The sad truth is that a significant number of people re-offend.”

The victims’ families, Jegley says, “deserve an explanation. I look into people’s eyes who’ve suffered the unspeakable. I believe they deserve justice.

The record suggests that Huckabee recklessly ignited the cycle of criminality which has had a variety of horrific consequences, possibly including the execution-style murder of four Lakewood, Washington, policemen.


Nothing in the parole documentation suggests [.pdf] that the propensity for violence revealed in court papers was considered.

Clemmons was fatally shot by Seattle, Washington, police while being taken into custody Tuesday in connection with the Sunday slaying of four Tacoma, Washington, police officers.

Huckabee blistered for passing the buck by Joel Connelly of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Crime, Politics | , , , , | 1 Comment

Huckabee pardons himself re Washington

He was one of many. Some with catastrophic consequences. Maurice Clemmons, named a “person of interest” in the murder of four police officers in Washington state coffeehouse Sunday morning, was granted clemency from what amounted to a life sentence by then Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2000. He was subsequently paroled.

Huckabee, whose presidential possibilities are sliding toward past tense, had HuckPAC issue an exculpatory statement.

The blame-shifting takeaway is:

He was recommended for and received a commutation of his original sentence from 1990, this commutation made him parole eligible and he was then paroled by the parole board once they determined he met the conditions at that time. He was arrested later for parole violation and taken back to prison to serve his full term, but prosecutors dropped the charges that would have held him. It appears that he has continued to have a string of criminal and psychotic behavior but was not kept incarcerated by either state.


Huckabee’s refusal to accept responsibility for the consequences of his own actions, and blame-shifting, are old news to prosecutors who were present during his era of Arkansas gubernatorial pardons. Literally. Garrick Feldman of the Arkansas Leader wrote in June of 2004:

Until now, Huckabee has refused to comment on his controversial policy of making violent prisoners eligible for parole– they include murderers, armed robbers and rapists, who often return to a life of crime after they’re freed – but in a statement to The Leader this week, he lashed out at prosecutors for not doing more to keep prisoners behind bars – to which Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley had this response: “That’s a load of baloney.”

“I’m offended as a prosecutor and as a citizen. He can blame the prosecutors, but ultimately he’s the man responsible,” Jegley says. “He’s the only one who can sign on the dotted line.

“All he has to do is look in the mirror and say, ‘I let (convicted rapist) Wayne DuMond go free who then killed at least once and probably twice.’”

Jegley says the governor ignores the will of the people when he reduces a life sentence without parole that was handed down by a jury.

“He has obviously disregarded the jury’s decision. It’s a crying shame that a sitting governor would be so insensitive to victims’ right and disregard the system,” says Jegley, who points to several clemency cases where felons went free and then committed more crimes.

Pulaski County Prosecutor Larry Jegley

Larry Jegley

In addition, Jegley, Saline County Prosecuting Attorney Robert Herzfeld and others have accused Huckabee of violating the state Constitution when he commutes sentences without explanation. The Constitution requires the governor to give reasons why he grants clemency to criminals.

“He doesn’t do it,” insists Herzfeld, who recently had a clemency overturned because Huckabee did not explain why he commuted a murderer’s life sentence.

Here is Huckabee’s response to critics:

“Have Robert Herzfeld, Larry Jegley and the other prosecuting attorneys prosecuted every crime to the full extent the law allows? In other words, have they in every case pursued the maximum penalties? Did they ever plea bargain? How often? What’s the percentage of cases in which they’ve accepted less than the maximum penalties allowed by law?

“This is the day I’ve been dreading for a long time,” Jegley said to the Seattle Times this Sunday, when told Clemmons was a suspect in the quadruple murder.

Jegley’s statement has a back to the future quality for those who have followed Huckabee’s clemencies/pardons history from the days when it was well-documented by The Arkansas Leader.

Huckabee issued more commutations and pardons than all of the six neighboring states combined. He apparently gave little real consideration to his actions, or so one might generously infer from his decision to pardon the likes of Glen Green. Garrick Feldman of the Arkansas Leader wrote:

But if he read the confession and still considers Green deserving of parole, he’s certainly unfit to hold office. Who would free a madman who beat an 18-year-old woman with Chinese martial-arts sticks, raped her as she barely clung to life, ran over her with his car, then dumped her in the bayou, her hand reaching up, as if begging for mercy?

Such lack of care is perhaps not a quality reasonable people seek in a president.


Clemmons was part of a pattern of negligence: Court papers reveal a propensity for violence that was apparently not considered at parole time.

Clemmons was fatally shot by Seattle, Washington, police while being taken into custody Tuesday in connection with the Sunday slaying of four Lakewood, Washington, police officers.

Huckabee blistered for passing the buck by Joel Connelly of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Politics, SBC | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Scientology/Anonymous wars come to Catholic Online

Anonymous protester in Guy Fawkes’ mask demonstrating during the January 2009 raid outside the Founding Church of Scientology in Washington, D.C. The group
was originally a response to Scientology’s aggressive efforts to remove a Tom Cruse video from the Internet.

The intensity of Klagenberg’s response to Catholic Online lends credence to the Anonymous explanation of the mask wearing.

It may be an error to say Anonymous is “a very few” in number and wrong to imply that “former members” of Scientology compose or founded Anonymous. We covered the origins of Anonymous in more detail here.
[Photo by Ben Schumin: Some rights reserved]

Scientology Public Affairs Officer Mike Klagenberg in a letter to the editor of Catholic Online wrote:

The article on forced abortions in Scientology is tantamount to bearing false witness. It is absolutely a gross lie fabricated by a very few disgruntled former members that are using the Catholic On Line site to forward their scurrilous lies and bitterness in an attempt to tarnish the Church and it’s members.

Catholic Online Associate Editor Randy Sly responds:

I have filed eight stories on Scientology since June, 2009. As we researched for these articles, the witnesses we found included former members, investigators, affidavits from litigation, etc. The amount of information available regarding false declarations, questionable practices, and suspicious relationships is enormous; its impact is global.

. . .
One major force of opposition facing Scientology – and probably the one that Mr. Klagenberg was referencing – does not come from without but from within. Former Scientologists have formed a leaderless Internet-based cadre called Anonymous. Group members, for the most part, do not know each other’s names; there is no central office, no hierarchy and no official spokesperson.

. . .
Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Québec defended the right of the group to oppose Scientology last February. He received a letter from “Anonymous Quebec” documenting a number of issues after publicly declaring that Scientology wasn’t a church [“La scientologie, c’est autre chose. Pour moi, cette communauté n’est pas une Église”] during an interview.

The article Klagenberg protested doen’t rely on anonymous sources:

Sea Organization or Sea Org is a sort of “religious order” within Scientology where only the most committed members of the late L. Ron Hubbard’s cult live out their lives. For the unborn child of a mother in Sea Org, that isn’t very long. They are aborted.
. . .
It would seem, however, that principle gave way to pragmatics as Scientology grew. Affidavits and other reports of forced abortions go back as early as 1994 while the abortions themselves began taking place in the mid 80’s.
[for example]
Mary Tabayoyon spent 25 years in Scientology, 21 of which were as a member of Sea Org. In an affidavit dated 26 August 1994 for the case CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INTERNATIONAL VS. STEVEN-FISHMAN AND UWE GEERTZ,
Defendants, she described a September 26, 1986 Sea Org Flag Order (an order binding upon all members) that forbade members from having any more children. Disobedience would result in exile to a lower expression of service. When the child reached age 6, the parents could return.
. . .

Underlying this is another fight, joined the St. Petersburg Times in a Nov. 8 editorial:

As former staffers lift the veil of secrecy that for years has obscured the inner workings of the Church of Scientology, a new mystery emerges: Why are government authorities looking the other way? The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has ample reason to reconsider its decision to grant Scientology tax-exempt status as a religion. Labor officials should determine whether wage and working condition violations have occurred, and law enforcement ought to investigate whether the church’s restraint on members’ free movement crossed a legal line.

Charges were detailed in a three-part series the newspaper ran this summer and which is referred to by Catholic Online:

The relentless parade of revelations about the Scientology’s essentially ludicrous core beliefs and sociopathic practices still do it more harm than the group’s heavy-handed public relations response. It is the revelations which make the case for law enforcement attention and IRS review of the church’s tax-exempt status. Official church response simply underlines that case.

Update: The PR War

Scientology announces “biggest expansion” in its history.

November 30, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Religion, WWW | , | 19 Comments

Gerald Warner: Today’s ‘jump-to-conclusions and cast-aspersions’ award winner

Gerald Warner of the London Telegraph contrived to sneer at Barack Obama and tar Vatican II for the Irish Catholic Church/police clerical pedophilia cover-up.

Warner did so as part of his argument defending Archbishop of Dublin John Charles McQuaid, whom he admires:

The Most Reverend John Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin (1940-1972) was a great Catholic prelate. Under his pastoral leadership, the numbers of clergy and religious increased by more than 50 per cent, he created over 60 new parishes and built over 80 new churches and 350 schools. But he was a Vatican II sceptic who implemented reform conservatively, in accordance with what would now be called the “hermeneutic of continuity”. So he is a bogey figure to radicals.

Warner argues that McQuaid was unfairly maligned because he retired in 1972, and the investigating commission dealt with “the period 1 January 1975 to 1 May 2004.”

Er, yes about the time periods, but the commission came across important cases which the record showed had earlier been presented to and not properly handled by McQuaid. The commission report finds as a result that McQuaid set the pattern of failure to enforce canon law. For example, it found with obvious cause (Part 2, page 191[.pdf]) “that Archbishop McQuaid acted the way he did to avoid scandal both here and in Rome.”

Rather than protect the children.

That case and others (some detailed by Warner’s commenters) involving decisions by McQuaid as archbishop, led the commission to state in its conclusions (Part 2, page 206 [.pdf] – emphasis ours):

This case has a special significance because it was one of the earliest in the Commission‟s remit. The apparent cancellation by Archbishop McQuaid of his original plan to pursue the priest through the procedures of canon law was a disaster. It established a pattern of not holding abusers accountable which lasted for decades. Firmer treatment of this priest might have avoided much abuse in the future. The Archbishop and Bishop Dunne had no doubt that a serious crime had been committed but avoided taking any action as that would have involved Rome becoming involved in the case. The Archbishop appointed Bishop Dunne to investigate the case and, in the Commission‟s view, promptly undermined him in his position.

In the Commission‟s view, Archbishop McQuaid‟s actions fell very short of what should have been done. Given that he was fully aware of the 1922 instruction, there was no justification for his failure to set up a proper canonical process to deal with the matter. In fact, he deliberately manipulated the situation in a manner that did not involve him reporting the matter to Rome.

Lacking compelling evidence that Vatican II either created McQuaid’s pattern-establishing behavior or precipitated Dublin’s fall, we must of course look elsewhere. Less fun than castigating our ideological foes, but if well-pursued, constructive.

November 29, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Churches, Crime | , , , | Comments Off on Gerald Warner: Today’s ‘jump-to-conclusions and cast-aspersions’ award winner

African albino children hunted/slaughtered for occult use

The witchdoctor-cultivated belief that albino body parts have magical powers has driven “as many as 10,000” east African albinos into hiding from hunters who work with unscrupulous dealers to sell them for a reported $75,000 per dismembered set, reports the International Federation of Red Cross and Crescent Society (IFRCCS) in the study Through Albino eyes [.pdf].

The violence is focused on children who are stalked by “contract killers” who are in the employ of “witchdoctors” with wealthy clients, the report said. The “children who are both extremely vulnerable and extremely conspicuous,” and are a focus of mobilized police effort. But most of the attacks occur in rural areas where there are few police resources.

Through Albino Eyes [.pdf] reports that East Africa’s latest albino murder was in Tanzania’s Mwanza region in late October. Hunters of albinos beheaded 10-year-old Gasper Elikana “to stop him screaming,” hacked off his leg and fled with it. Elikana’s neighbors and father tried to defend him. His father was seriously injured.

“This is the 21st-century, y’all will want to remember,” Civil Commotion suggests.

Bringing African albinos into that century with us will require considerable effort. Swift legal action against those profiting from the slaughter is certainly part of the mix. In early November, Tanzania’s high court finanlized the sentence of four men to death by hanging for killing a 50-year-old albino man — a rare imposition of punishment.

Other governmental actions recommended by IFRCCS Include:

  • Ensure effective legal protection for people with albinism.
  • Use local administrative structures to locate albino people in
  • Conduct public anti-discrimination campaigns and extend
    medical services to albinos in need.

November 29, 2009 Posted by | Crime, Religion | , , , | 1 Comment

Taxpayer-purchased ‘indulgence’ for Berlusconi?

Will funneling secular-designated tax money [.pdf] to the Catholic Church purchase an indulgence for Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi?

In September, Berlusconi quietly issued a decree giving himself the authority to redirect designated funds away from taxpayer intentions. He then assigned to Catholic churches and monasteries some 10.6 million Euros that Italian taxpayers “had earmarked on their tax returns for secular institutions.”

You see:

Under this law Italian taxpayers are able to declare that 0.8% (‘eight per thousand’) of their taxes go to a religious confession or, alternatively, to a social assistance program run by the Italian State. This declaration is made on the IRPEF form. People are not required to declare a recipient; in that case the law stipulates that this undeclared amount be distributed among the normal recipients of such taxes in proportion to what they have already received from explicit declarations. Only the Catholic Church and the Italian State have agreed to take this undeclared portion of the tax.

Before he was caught misapplying those funds, Berlusconi was already neck-deep in a bribery scandal. Remember, this is the media mogul who said yesterday he would like to “strangle” those who wrote books or made films about the mafia. Would that include the ghost author of an escourt’s graphic account of her dalliances with Berlusconi? Whatever the answer, it was Berlusconi’s dalliances that brought him into such conflict with the Vatican that he apparently felt redirection of funds was required to make amends.

The Australian newspaper Brisbane Times describes it as follows:

A historic – and potentially disastrous – schism has opened between church and state in Italy after the embattled Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, used a newspaper owned by his brother Paolo to stage a virulent attack on the editor of the nation’s main Catholic newspaper.

In a ferocious, front-page campaign, the Berlusconi newspaper branded the Catholic editor, Dino Boffo, a homosexual and alleged he was the target of a harassment suit from the wife of a man he was allegedly in a relationship with. All of this in apparent retaliation for sustained criticism of the Prime Minister’s morality and personal life.

Boffo, the prominent boss of the powerful Avvenire, newspaper of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, was immediately supported by a public statement from the Vatican. But on Thursday, after issuing a detailed, 10-point rebuttal and explanation of the origin of the allegations, Boffo chose to resign, describing the campaign against him as ”media butchery”, stating that his reputation had been ”violated” and he could no longer allow his family to remain at the ”centre of a storm of gigantic proportions”.

In his letter of resignation, Boffo described the sexual scandal used against him as a ”diabolically engineered, colossal, fictional set-up”. He said he had chosen freely to step aside because ”the church has better things to do than strenuously defend one person, even if unfairly targeted”.

In that light, how can the Catholic Church keep misappropriated money, without being seen as selling indulgences to the corrupt?

[H/T: Religion Clause]

November 29, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, Politics, Religion | , | Comments Off on Taxpayer-purchased ‘indulgence’ for Berlusconi?

Scientology: ‘… a school for psychopaths’

Noah Lottick, 24, committed suicide last June in May of 1990, having given virtually all of his money to the Church of Scientology. Time Magazine writes:

His death inspired his father Edward, a physician, to start his own investigation of the church. “We thought Scientology was something like Dale Carnegie,” Lottick says. “I now believe it’s a school for psychopaths. Their so-called therapies are manipulations. They take the best and brightest people and destroy them.” The Lotticks want to sue the church for contributing to their son’s death, but the prospect has them frightened. For nearly 40 years, the big business of Scientology has shielded itself exquisitely behind the First Amendment as well as a battery of high-priced criminal lawyers and shady private detectives.

Read the entire article here.

More recently, the Scientology wars have come to Catholic Online.

Also, Not a happy Guy Fawkes Day for Scientology.

November 29, 2009 Posted by | Churches, WWW | | Comments Off on Scientology: ‘… a school for psychopaths’

‘Dangerous’ Declaration, says the LA Times

It is a dangerous declaration full of fake facts and supported by a worthless petition. The Manhattan Declaration is irresponsible, argues the Los Angeles Times:

This apocalyptic argument for lawbreaking is disingenuous, but it is also dangerous. Did the Roman Catholic bishops who signed the manifesto consider how their endorsement of lawbreaking in a higher cause might embolden the antiabortion terrorists they claim to condemn? Did they stop to think that, by reserving the right to resist laws they don’t like, they forfeit the authority to intervene in the enactment of those laws, as they have done in the congressional debate over healthcare reform? They need to be reminded that this is a nation of laws, not of men — even holy men.

Read the entire piece here.

November 29, 2009 Posted by | Politics, Religion | , , , , , | 2 Comments