Russian lawmakers on Tuesday took a step toward imposing jail terms for offending religious feelings, approving legislation proposed after punk band Pussy Riot performed a raucous protest song in Moscow's main Orthodox Christian cathedral. The bill would introduce jail terms of up to one year and fines of up to 300,000 roubles ($9,600) for "public actions expressing clear disrespect for society and committed with intent to offend the religious feelings of the faithful." If committed in a house of worship the maximum punishment would be three years in prison and a fine of 500,000 roubles.
Critics say the bill will give government-approved religious groups protection others lack and blur the line between church and state under President Vladimir Putin, who has advocated a strong societal role for the Russian Orthodox Church.
Oh, shit. Big Brother's back.
From GLOBAL POST:
The first-ever statue of Pope Francis has been unveiled in a potato field near Naples - an unorthodox homage to the fact that the Argentine pope's ancestors were farmers in northern Italy. The statue will be presented to the pope next month by Italian actor Barbato De Stefano, who comes from the village of Cicciano where it was presented and who has financed the project.
From VIBE GHANA:
T. B. Joshua’s ‘holy water’, over which four Christian Worshippers died in Accra on Sunday, was apparently meant to bridge the poverty gap between the Poor and the Rich in Ghana, one of the Nigerian Prophet’s Evangelists has told XYZ News. Thousands of Christians trooped to the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) at the Spintex Road on Sunday to have access to the free anointing water. A scramble ensued within the humongous congregation with virtually every Worshipper pushing and shoving for access to the ‘holy water’. The chaos resulted in a stampede in which four Worshippers got trampled and asphyxiated. At least 30 others also got seriously injured.
Evangelist Samuel Excellence said: “[T.B. Joshua’s] position about this whole anointing water has to do with the fact that he realises that there was a large gap between the Rich and the Poor, and the grace of God is what brings healing, deliverance and blessings for the salvation of the souls; so his intention is that as people participate in this grace, through the medium of anointing water, that gap will be bridged”.
The gap between a certain false prophet and charlatan being poor and becoming stinking rich, more like. The man should be arrested for manslaughter.
From ILLAWARRA MERCURY:
A man climbed onto a ledge on the dome of St Peter's Basilica on Monday and unfurled a banner protesting against a "political horror show", an apparent reference to Italy's embattled coalition struggling with recession and high unemployment. Identified by police as Marcello Di Finizio, the man unfurled a white banner reading "Stop this massacre! The political horror show is continuing," in English, scrawled in black and red ink, with "Help us Pope Francis" in Italian. He also waved an Italian flag as he balanced precariously above a small window near the top of the 137-metre dome.
Mr Di Finizio has staged similar protests on the dome in the past. Last October he stayed there overnight with a banner criticising multinationals, Europe, and former Prime Minister Mario Monti.
From THE INDEPENDENT:
Pope Francis appears to have been captured on video performing an exorcism in St Peter’s Square. The astonishing footage, taken immediately after Pentecostal mass on Sunday 19th May, shows the Pontiff approach the second of two wheelchair bound people. After a priest leans across the boy or young man to tell Francis something, the Pope’s expression becomes more serious, the voice-over notes. He then grips the top of the subject’s head firmly and is seen pushing him down into his wheel chair. As this is happening the Pontiff recites an intense prayer, and the boy’s mouth drops wide open and he exhales sharply.
La Repubblica quotes an exorcism expert has saying: “It was a prayer of liberation from evil or even a real exorcism.” The Vatican has downplayed the incident, filmed by the religious satellite channel TV2000, saying it was just a prayer.
Wow! Francis could be the new Benny Hinn. He just needs to get himself a good agent.
Seriously though, this looks like a bog-standard prayer, no different than you would come across at any Anglican healing service. If it had been a real exorcism the disabled man's head would have spun round 360 degrees.
From THE TIMES OF ISRAEL:
Vandals have sprayed offensive and threatening slogans at the entrance to the south Jerusalem home of Peggy Cidor, a journalist and a member of the Woman of the Wall organization, which campaigns for egalitarian women’s prayer at the Western Wall. The slogans declared “Women of the Wall are villains,” “Jerusalem is holy,” and, in a play on Cidor’s name when written in Hebrew, that “Peggy has passed her expiration date.”
Cidor says that she will not be deterred by the attack and that any changes to her lifestyle are “out of the question.”
“I’m not afraid,” she said. “It takes more than that to scare me. I’m just pissed off.”
From ONE INDIA:
A Kerala church has asked its followers not to use Chinese made coffins, saying they are not environment friendly. "Swarga Petti" (heavenly box) has been found to be an unfriendly product by the Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar due to delay in decaying in the soil. The church's call comes amid Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visiting India.
The Mar Thoma Church has followers close to a million, mostly concentrated in central Kerala districts. The people who adhere to the church are considered wealthy in comparison to other Christians. Even their funeral processions are taken out with pomp and show with expensive and decorative coffins, hiring of choirs to sing the devotional songs and distribution of 'heavy' food packets after the coffin ritual.
From THE TELEGRAPH:
French actor and new Russian citizen Gerard Depardieu told the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily in an interview published today that he felt proud of what Mr Putin has done in his 13 years in charge.
"I have many Russian friends - Putin, for example. I will say what I think about Putin: the Russian nation needs a person just like this - with a Russian temper. Putin is trying to return just a bit of dignity back to the people," said the star of films such as "Cyrano de Bergerac."
He then added: "For me, he is like (former French president) Francois Mitterrand or Pope John Paul II. I never said this to journalists before, but this is what I think."
And of course he is right. As dictators go Putin and John Paul II are very similar. I don't know why he mentions Mitterand in the same breath. Perhaps Putin and John Paul II also illegally eat endangered songbirds.
From BUSINESS INSIDER:
One of the weirdest homes on the New York real estate market has lowered its asking price from $13.588 million to $10.999 million, according to The New York Daily News. The 14,000-square-foot Chapel Hill Mansion in the Bronx was originally built in 1928, and remodeled by the head of the New York Theological Society for the preparation of the "second coming of Jesus Christ."
The home was supposed to house "the Christian savior once he returned to earth to judge the living and the dead," listing broker Sean McPeak of Prudential Douglas Elliman told The Real Deal in 2012.
Full story at GIZMODO.
Pocatello city officials met with an attorney for a Washington, D.C.-based conservative group, the American Religious Freedom Program, brought in by the Mormon church a few weeks before councilors rejected an ordinance intended to protect gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination. The meetings were held over five sessions. A vote on the anti-discrimination ordinance planned later on April 4 was delayed until April 18. At that meeting, the council voted down the ordinance 4-3, with all four members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints voting against.
It strikes me that since Americans have stopped discriminating against Mormons and Roman Catholics there has been a lot more discrimination in America (black people aside, of course).
Bauer Media in Australia has apologised to the Sikh community over an offensive article it ran in its porn magazine The Picture. The company made an out of court settlement with United Sikhs after the group brought legal action over an article entitled Turban Legend.
Of particular offence was the inclusion of a photo of a Nihang Sikh - . The magazine showed a photo of a praying Nihang Sikh in a Golden temple surrounded by pictures of naked women. Nihang is a greatly respected Sikh order famed for its military victories.
From PAISLEY DAILY EXPRESS:
The Reverend Lorna Hood, who is minister of Renfrew North Parish Church, will be installed as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland tomorrow. And, to prepare for the big event, she went to a jewellers shop in Edinburgh to have the Moderator’s ring correctly fitted. The ring is a duplicate of the original gold and amethyst piece that went missing at Edinburgh Airport last month. The staff of the jeweller's shop recognised the distinctive ring – which is engraved with the Kirk’s symbol, the Burning Bush – and alerted the police. Shortly after the Moderator Designate had left the shop, the head office of the Church of Scotland took a call from officers, indicating the missing ring had been brought to a jeweller’s shop.
A mortified Mrs Hood said: “I thought my official photos as Moderator might end up on "Crimewatch."
It's a good thing her first name isn't "Robin."
From FOX NEWS:
Some 30 women are among the nearly 700 Iranians who registered to run in the election to succeed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but the Islamic republic’s ruling clerics wiped out their candidacies with one broad stroke. Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, a member of the regime’s Guardian Council told the semiofficial Mehr news agency the participation of women in an election would go against the country’s constitution. He went on to say that not only does the law bar a female from the presidency, it prohibits a woman from appearing on the ballot. According to the Iranian constitution, presidential candidates must possess a “convinced belief” in the founding principles of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Within these guidelines the Guardian Council vetoes candidates who are deemed unacceptable — in other words, those who possess views that stray from the (ruling) regime’s agenda.
“This regime has made the role and only function of women as objects that serve for the enjoyment of men,” said Sara, a medical doctor from Tehran, who asked not to be identified by her full name. “Not only will they not allow women to participate as candidates, but our votes and voices are not counted either. They never were.”
Our serving men and women sacrificed their lives for this?! Tony Blair has a lot to answer for.
First Communion children are more excited about the money they will get on the day than any religious aspect of the event. Seven in 10 children see the money as the best part of the day while wearing their Communion outfit as the most special memory. And despite the economic downturn the First Holy Communion remains a lucrative business, with the average cash gift between 20 and 30 Euros.
From THE RAW STORY:
A play entitled “God is a Gangster” will be performed under police protection in Romania after the theatre hosting it received threats, police said Friday. The play, written by Canadian actor and playwright Nick Mancuso, since October has been periodically playing at a theatre in the western city of Timisoara, which recently received a letter threatening “merciless punishment” if it kept hosting it.
“Undercover police officers will be among the audience next Saturday and we will also have police officers in uniform in the area to be able to react fast if anything happens”, Daniel Langa, the deputy police chief in the city, told journalists.
A few days before the letter, the representatives of all Christian denominations in Timisoara had asked the theatre to change the title of the play so as to respect Christian values in the predominantly Christian country.