Category: Religion

“Jesus Died With COVID-19”: Arkansas Church Refuses To Close During Pandemic

We have been discussing churches holding mass services in defiance of orders for people to stay at home and avoid groups of larger than 10 people. Some of the churches insist that faith alone can protect against the virus. Now, the Awaken Church in Jonesboro, Arkansas has not only announced that it would remain open for services but assured the faithful that “Jesus died with COVID-19 so you didn’t have to bear it.”

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Laying Hands On Religious Super-Spreaders: Florida Police Arrest Megachurch Pastor

We recently discussed defiant ministers who have refused to end large-scale services like Pastor Tony Spell in Louisiana. Now Florida police have criminally charged Pastor Rodney Howard-Browne of The River at Tampa Bay Church for defying pandemic orders with a mass service.

Fox 29 reports that law enforcement tried to dissuade Howard-Browne but the minister refused to yield and exposed his congregation and their neighbors to spreading the virus. He is charged with “unlawful assembly” and “violation of public health emergency order.”

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Religious Leaders Move To Claim Coronavirus As Wrath Of God [Updated]

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Where the world is united in fighting the menace of the coronavirus, Gazan Imam Jamil Al-Mutawa used his sermon in Gaza to praise the virus as sent by Allah to kill Westerners and Jews while sparing Palestinians. If the translation is accurate on MEMRI from March 20, 2020, the Imam is enthralled by the virus declares “[Allah] has sent just one soldier, [the coronavirus].” In the meantime, Ralph Drollinger, a Christian leader with ties to President Trump, argues in two blog posts  that the virus is the wrath of God over our sins. Another preacher is claiming to heal all carriers attending his services because the virus is merely the manifestation of the devil. He added “You’re not spreading God’s word, you’re spreading this virus.”

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“Peace and All Good”: Italian Priest Dies After Giving His Ventilator To Young Patient

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We have seen the worst of religious opportunists in this crisis. There are also stories of amazing selflessness from religious groups and individuals. One such person is Rev. Giuseppe Berardelli, 72. Many of you may already have heard of this man but his story is as inspiring as it is tragic. According to Vatican News, Berardelli greeted everyone with the phrase: “Pace e bene” (“Peace and All Good”)

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Not Reassuring: Vicar Catches Fire After Asking “Lord God, What Are You Saying To Us?”

Stephen Beach of St. Budeaux Parish Church in Plymouth just learned why trial lawyers never ask a question without knowing the answer. Beach was holding an online sermon during the COVID-19 outbreak and asked “Lord God, what are you saying to us?” He promptly caught fire. Fortunately, as shown in the video below, it was just his clothing and the good vicar is fine. He needs a new sweater and his parishioners need a stiff drink. First Prince Charles gets the coronavirus and now good reverends are catching fire.

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Catholic Church Approves Blanket Forgiveness For Sins During Outbreak

The Vatican has announced that it has granted blanket forgiveness for sins by anyone struck with the coronavirus as well as healthcare workers and those who pray for healthcare workers. Relatives of the sick are also forgiven. I must admit that, as a lawyer raised Catholic, I am surprised by the use of general absolution on this scale. I am also struck by the specificity, including that those who want to take advantage of the option for those who pray must also pray, doing so “for at least half an hour.”

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“Whatever You Do Right Now, Don’t You Stop Tithing”: Televangelists Tell Jobless Faithful That They Must Continue To Give Money

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We have previously discussed televangelist Kenneth Copeland and his bizarre explanations for why he needed to fly in luxury planes and other controversies. Now Copeland appears genuinely concerned about the loss of jobs during the coronavirus outbreak: because people are choosing to use their money to feed their families rather than donate to the church. Accordingly, Copeland took to the air to declare “Whatever you do right now, don’t you stop tithing.”

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“The Holy Cup Cannot Carry Disease”: Greek Orthodox Churches Announce That Shared Drinking Of Wine Will Continue Despite Corona

We recently discussed videotaped of Iranians licking the doors and objects of Islamic shrines in the belief that such traditions are protected by God from Coronavirus. Now, Greek Orthodox churches in Australia have announced that they will allow congregations of hundreds of people to sip wine from the same spoon during mass because “the holy cup cannot carry disease.”

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God-Fearing and Virus-Inviting: Religious Figures In Iran and South Korea Under Fire For Spread of The Coronavirus

The head of Shincheonji Church of Jesus, Lee Man-hee this week held a press conference to apologize for the spread of the coronavirus that has been traced to his controversial sect. It was a remarkable moment for a man who claimed to be second coming of Jesus Christ. In Iran, where the virus is exploding, the Muslim leaders are neither apologetic nor deterred in refusing to curtail religious demonstrations, including the licking of religious sites and icons by Muslims. Muslims interviewed insist that their faith protected them, which further expands the growing body of God-fearing, virus-inviting patients for health experts.

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Former Trump Chief Of Staff Defends Vindman Over Need To Report Trump’s “Illegal Order”

Former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has defended Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman’s decision to report President Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president. Kelly referred to the call as an “illegal order” that had to be reported. Most of us support Vindman raising his concerns with the chain of command and hopefully Trump will not attack Kelly for stating his support for Vindman. This is a principled and reasonable view of one of our most respected military officers.

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American Conservative Union Chair Says That Romney Could Be In “Physical” Danger

The Chair of the Conservative Political Action Conference has made news this week by not only saying that Sen. Mitt Romney (R, Utah) was not welcomed at the annual conference, but that the former Republican presidential nominee could be in danger of being being assaulted in such venues. Matt Schlapp said that ” I’d actually be afraid for his physical safety, people are so mad at him.” I recently wrote a Washington Post column defending Romney but the attacks have continued, including an attack by President Donald Trump last night at a campaign rally. It appears that the “Big Tent” party of Ronald Reagan has become a pup tent of exclusion.

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Trump’s Spiritual Adviser Calls For “Satanic Pregnancies To Miscarry Right Now”

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We have previously discussed President Donald Trump’s personal spiritual adviser, Paula White, and her bizarre sermons denouncing the ‘demonic networks” and stating that Christians who vote against Trump will be called to account before God. She is back in the news with a sermon that calls for opposing the marine and animal kingdoms as well as commanding “any satanic pregnancies to miscarry right now.” President Trump has not only embraced White as a spiritual counselor but made her the head of his Faith and Opportunity Initiative

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When Will We Finally Treat Ancient Human Remains With Dignity?

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

While I maintain that the scientific community has for hundreds of years steadfastly failed to exercise a modern sense of decency and respect for human remains of the ancients, a recent article in Ars Technica prompted me to type my concern.

The objection I have is that most societies in the world currently place special value and reverence in the preserving and protection of interred human remains, often citing the desire to allow the departed the right to rest in peace. Yet, among governments, scientific organizations, academics, and museums we allow an abandonment of these values and permit the continual insult to the deceased–who’s remains serve as equivalents to rock samples and objects to be endlessly studied and displayed to the curious.

Would we allow such a spectacle to be exacted upon our own families?

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Turkey Moves Toward Passage Of Controversial “Marry Your Rapist” Law

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We have often discussed the struggle of women in Muslim countries in resisting religious-based requirements for coverings and limitations on their movements and interactions. Turkey was once the exception among these countries as a secular, modern nation. That was before the rise of Islamic parties under the authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey under Erdogan has already rolled back on protections for girls and women in abuse cases. Now the country is considering a horrific law aptly called the “marry-your-rapist” bill. Under this legislation, men accused of having sex with underaged girls could avoid punishment if they marry their victims.

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Iranian Chess Master Refuses To Return After Being Photographed Without Required Hijab

We recently discussed the defection of Iran’s only Olympic female medalist due to the continuing discrimination and repression of women in that country. Now, Iranian chess master and referee, Shohreh Bayat, 32, has refused to return to Iran after pictures emerged of her without a hijab caused a controversy in the Islamic Republic. The decision is another painful example of the struggle of women under Islamic laws that deny them basic human rights.

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