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Sunday, 1 September 2013

Sunday Stuff!

Death of a Messiah!

Villagers in Papua New Guinea have killed fugitive cult leader Steven Tari — who referred to himself as ‘Black Jesus’ — and one of his followers, after they were caught attacking a young woman.

Tari was accused of human sacrifices, rape, murder and cannibalism, but was ultimately convicted in October 2010 of raping 4 young girls who belonged to his cargo cult.

Sentenced to up to 10 years in prison, he escaped last March along with 48 other prisoners.

Tari claimed to be King Yali, a reincarnation of God Yali, the deceased leader of the Yali Movement. A failed Lutheran pastor, he also said he was the Messiah.


Some evangelicals — which a TIME magazine article equates with ‘fundamentalist Christians‘ — apparently view the escalating violence in Syria as leading up to the fulfillment of a prophecy in the Biblical book of Isaiah which, in Chapter 17:1, says, “A prophecy against Damascus:

“See, Damascus will no longer be a city but will become a heap of ruins.”

According to TIME “nearly all Biblical scholars … argue that such a literalist interpretation of the text is highly problematic.” The article quotes just one scholar, who opines that the interpretation of Isaiah 17 as a reference to the current conflict is absurd.

By the way, Evangelicals actually come in many flavors, since Evangelicalism is a rather diverse movement. And many, if not most, of them pay no attention to the kind of blogs the article cites — precisely because most of those blogs are, well, absurd.


Bob Larson’s Teenage Exorcists

Bob Larson is an ‘evangelist’ and — reportedly using mail order credentials — ‘reverend’ who markets himself as “the world’s foremost expert on cults, the occult, and supernatural phenomena.”

It’s a ridiculous claim that few, if any, true cult experts and Christian apologists support.

But he is good at marketing his business — most recently via the use of his team of “Teenage Exorcists.”

On September 12, BBC Three will air The Teenage Exorcists, a documentary by Filmmaker Dan Murdock.

ATV Today says the doc
unpicks the intensely theatrical nature of exorcism alongside delving into the personal lives of the three girls; an exploration which leads to a fascinating final question – are these girls truly miracle-workers or simply shameless frauds?
Bonus note: Via his Twitter stream I found out Murdoch also plays in a band called The Lazlo Device. Wow! Good stuff.


bullet It’s not the celebrities in Scientology that matter — it’s why so many more have left, says Skip Press, who at one time was a staff member at the cult’s ‘Celebrity Centre’.

Here’s why Scientology goes after the rich and famous.

bullet Did you know that Scientology is a space alien cult?Apparently founder L. Ron Hubbard had a lot of trouble telling truth and fiction apart.

bullet How did someone like that become a “New York Times best-selling author“? Because his books do sell. Smoke and mirrors, anyone?

bullet Speaking of space aliens, the Raelian Movement — the world’s largest UFO religionwants to rehabilitate the swastika.

That has been tried before. But the Raelians actually use a Star of David interlaced with a Swastika as their symbol — something that has hindered their plans to build an “interplanetary embassy” in Israel.

Cult head Rael, former French racing car driver Claude Vorilhon, believes the ancient race of aliens he refers to as the Elohim created the human race in what is now Israel. He has claimed that the Elohim will return as soon as the embassy has been built.

Other publicity stunts the group has come up with: claiming to have produced the world’s first cloned baby; promoting the freedom to go topless; and a laudable effort to rid the world of female genital mutilation.

bullet Are lab-created burgers religion-proof?

bullet Two students and their rabbi/attorney/father, Barry Silver, have filed a lawsuit against their school district, claiming that it fails to teach evolution and so-called truths about religions. Yes, in Florida.

bullet What do you do when you believe the U.S. government interferes in your religion? Why, you set sail — literally — in search of a better place.

Hannah Gastonguay, 26, says that she, her husband Sean, 30, along with his father, Mike, and daughters, 3-year-old Ardith and baby Rahab sailed off last May after they had “decided to take a leap of faith and see where God led us.”

Back to the States, it appears.

They aimed for the tiny island nation of Kiribati — about halfway between Hawaii and Australia — but, in Hannah’s words, ended up in the “twilight zone.” Lacking proper navigational skills, they didn’t touch land for 3 months before they were eventually rescued.

According to the Associated Press, though they don’t attend a church,
Hannah Gastonguay said her family was fed up with government control in the U.S. As Christians they don’t believe in “abortion, homosexuality, in the state-controlled church,” she said.

U.S. “churches aren’t their own,” Gastonguay said, suggesting that government regulation interfered with religious independence.

Among other differences, she said they had a problem with being “forced to pay these taxes that pay for abortions we don’t agree with.”
bullet Iran is trying to recruit Latin Americans by luring them to religious classes that one former student describes as an immersion course in “anti-Americanism and Islam.”

The Washington Post says that
In recent years, the program has brought hundreds of Latin Americans to Iran for intensive Spanish-language instruction in Iranian religion and culture, much of it supervised by a man who is wanted internationally on terrorism charges, according to U.S. officials and experts.
bullet Meanwhile, scholars at EMU debate whether Islam is a religion of peace.

Kind of depends on which flavor of Islam we’re talking about. keeps track of the decidely unpeaceful variety.


Jehovah’s Witnesses Changing Doctrines — Again

The doctrines of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania — the legal entity behind Jehovah’s Witnesses are changing again.

Just like the Mormon Church 1, another major cult of Christianity, ‘the Society’ — as members often refer to the organization — changes its doctrines pretty much at will.

The group has a so-called Governing Body which, among other things, is responsible for formulating policy and doctrines.

This Governing Body has used the parable of the faithful and discreet slave — in Matthew 24:45-47 2 — to justify the notion that they have been appointed by God to lead his people.

Well, this doctrine, of the Faithful and Discreet Slave, has undergone many interpretations and changes over the years.

And it is about the change again — drastically — as reflected in the articles discussed in the July 15, 2013 Study Edition of the organization’s Watchtower magazine.

Christian apologist Keith Walker, of Evidence Ministries, explains the implications of the “New Light”:3