Southern Religion

Former Southern Baptist youth pastor gets 17 yrs

The former Southern Baptist youth pastor at Seaford Baptist Church, Jeremy “Jack” Duffer, 40, was sentenced to 17 years in prison for sexually assaulting two girls. The Virginia Gazette reported:

The charges stem from incidents in 2008 and 2009 involving two 15-year-old girls. Duffer was arrested last August after the parents of one of the girls contacted the Sheriff’s Office after discovering an inappropriate text message from Duffer to their teenage daughter.

In February, when the conviction was handed down and the March 13 sentencing date set, the York County, Va., Daily Press, wrote:

Jeremy “Jack” Ryan Duffer, a 40-year-old former youth pastor at Seaford Baptist Church, pleaded guilty in York-Poquoson Circuit Court to eight charges of aggravated sexual battery with a child between the ages of 13 and 17 and a single count of taking indecent liberties with a child. In return, nine additional charges of aggravated sexual battery were dropped by the prosecution.


May 14, 2010 Posted by | Crime, SBC | | Comments Off on Former Southern Baptist youth pastor gets 17 yrs

‘Will the Gulf ever heal?’

For the First Time in My Environmental Career, I’m Using the Word ‘Hopeless’,” says the narrator of a riveting amateur video of the Gulf oil spill.

[H/T: A Blog Around the Clock]

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Science | | Comments Off on ‘Will the Gulf ever heal?’

Friday afternoon video: Underwater footage of the Gulf oil leak

Ugly and “considerable pressure” was required to persuade BP to release even this brief video:

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Science | | Comments Off on Friday afternoon video: Underwater footage of the Gulf oil leak

Britain’s ‘Christian’ political parties …

. . . are marginalized by political incompetence.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Politics | Comments Off on Britain’s ‘Christian’ political parties …

Pastors slammed for telling the First Amendment truth

There is a price in smear to taking a stand against revisionist history, as a group of moderate to liberal clergy – members of the Texas Faith Network – did recently.

Jonathan Saenz, , a lawyer/lobbyist for Liberty Institute (the Texas affiliate of the far-right Focus on the Family), quickly accused the group had used their press conference “to personally attack the Christian faith of some State Board of Education members.” Although he didn’t explain how that occurred, he did correctly report that they support separation of church and state. They said, for example:

“Our Founding Fathers understood that the best way to protect religious liberty in America is to keep government out of matters of faith,” said the Rev. Roger Paynter, pastor of Austin’s First Baptist Church. “But this state board appears hostile to teaching students about the importance of keeping religion and state separate, a principle long supported in my own Baptist tradition and in other faiths.”

False history is typically cited to support the Texas board’s hostility, Saenz’s and that of his allies. To wit, Dave Welch of the arch conservative Pastor Council issued a press release which, among other things, said:

“The Northwest Ordinance, passed in 1787 by the same Congress which presented the Bill of Rights for ratification, declared that ‘Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.’”

He’s just wrong.

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 was passed by the Congress seated under the Articles of Confederation.

More than two years later, first federal Congress under the Constitution sent the Bill of Rights to the states for ratification. And of course included the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights — the one which forbids government from either promoting or disfavoring religion.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Law, Religion | | 4 Comments

That anti-poor people lottery feedback loop: Addendum

Some truths do endure. Since 1890, the Southern Baptist Convention has formally expressed its opposition to legalized gambling, and there is experimental evidence that the SBC position is the right and fair one. Jonah Lehrer writes at The Frontal Cortext:

A new study by Emily Haisley, Romel Mostafa and George Loewenstein explored some of the reasons why low-income people spend so much money on a product that only returns fifty three cents on the dollar. (Lotteries are such a bad deal that they make slot machines look good.) Here’s the abstract:

In two experiments conducted with low-income participants, we examine how implicit comparisons with other income classes increase low-income individuals’ desire to play the lottery. In Experiment 1, participants were more likely to purchase lottery tickets when they were primed to perceive that their own income was low relative to an implicit standard. In Experiment 2, participants purchased more tickets when they considered situations in which rich people or poor people receive advantages, implicitly highlighting the fact that everyone has an equal chance of winning the lottery.

The study neatly illuminates the sad positive feedback loop of lotteries. The games naturally appeal to poor people, which causes them to spend disproportionate amounts of their income on lotteries, which helps keep them poor, which keeps them buying tickets.


Henry Chase and Luke Clark of the Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute have data which indicates that near misses also fuel the gambling addiction. NeuroPhilosophy explains that gambling game designers know and take advantage of that to grow their market (foster addiction):

Manufacturers of gambling games have apparently known the rewarding effects of near misses all along, and design slot machines in such a way as to exploit the cognitive distortions of gamblers. Using a technique called clustering, they create a high number of failures that are close to wins, so that what the player sees is a misrepresentation of the probabilities and randomness that the game involves. This affects the perception of the game, making the gambler who nearly hits the jackpot want to continue playing.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Law, Science | | Comments Off on That anti-poor people lottery feedback loop: Addendum

Southern Baptist Convention of ‘liars and embellishers’

Wade Burleson writes in blistering assessment of Southern Baptist Convention pastors’ fake doctorates. The key passage:

Southern Baptist pastors seem infatuated with the title “Dr,” even to the extent of asking others to use it of them before they’ve earned it. Take a gander at the Pastors’ Conference line-up. Does every single speaker really have an earned doctorate? It would be inappropriate for some to single out one man for questioning without the rest of us demanding that all be held accountable.

May 14, 2010 Posted by | SBC | | 3 Comments

Ted Haggard incorporates (again)

Ted Haggard actually started his new church in November. Last week’s incorporation was just another step for the man who left his last big church amid scandal and left behind a hush money agreement.

Why incorporate now? He told the Colorado Springs Gazette that it’s about the money. That is:

. . . St. James was incorporated “to keep the accounting in order” of the paid talks they’ve given for about a year and a half at evangelical churches across the country. The Haggards incur out-of-pocket expenses while on the road, so St. James is a way to be reimbursed for those costs in an orderly manner, he said.


May 14, 2010 Posted by | Cults | , | Comments Off on Ted Haggard incorporates (again)

The ClimateGate swings back

Flog whom? Hmmmm:

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Satire, Science, Uncategorized | | Comments Off on The ClimateGate swings back

Laura Bush vs Pope Benedict XVI on gay marriage

Former First Lady Laura Bush said “yes” to gay marriage:

Pope Benedict XVI in his visit to a famous Portuguese shrine to the Virgin Mary on Thursday denounced gay marriage:

In a speech here to Catholic social service groups, Benedict called for initiatives aimed at protecting “the family based on the indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman, help to respond to some of today’s most insidious and dangerous threats to the common good.”

May 14, 2010 Posted by | Cultural | | Comments Off on Laura Bush vs Pope Benedict XVI on gay marriage