A Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Is Rattling Christian Homeschoolers
Last fall, Douglas Phillips, a fundamentalist Christian homeschooling guru and leading proponent of the “Biblical Patriarchy” movement, shocked his followers by publicly admitting that he had a relationship with a woman other than his wife, and subsequently shuttered his popular—and lucrative—Vision Forum ministries. Given that philandering religious leaders are a dime a dozen, the story seemed pretty unremarkable at the time. Sure, it was sad news for Phillips and his fundamentalist friends, an illustrious circle that included Kirk Cameron, Creationist talking head Ken Ham, and the Duggar vagina militia. But mostly, it just looked like another minister getting a taste of forbidden fruit.
“There has been serious sin in my life for which God has graciously brought me to repentance,” Phillips said in a statement posted to Vision Forum’s website. “I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.”
Then, last week, the bomb dropped. The woman with whom Phillips was involved, 29-year-old Lourdes Torres, slapped both him and Vision Forum with a lawsuit that indicates Phillips dramatically understated the nature of their “inappropriate relationship”—not least by implying that it was consensual. In the suit, Torres accuses him of sexual battery, exploitation, assault, and fraud, among other charges, and claims he used her as a “personal sex object” over the course of several years, including while she was working as a nanny in Phillips’s home. Torres is also suing Phillips’s now-defunct Vision Forum Ministries, and its for-profit arm, for negligent supervision and retention—in other words, for knowing about the abuse and not doing anything to stop it or remove Phillips from his leadership roles.  
According to the lawsuit, Phillips met Torres and her family at a homeschooling conference in 1999, when Torres was just 15. It claims that Phillips then proceeded to “methodically groom” the teenage girl, inviting Torres on family vacations, taking her on as a nanny for his kids, and showering her with compliments, money, and spiritual advice, until eventually she moved into the Phillips’s home as a nanny in 2007.
That’s when the allegations get gross:
While Ms. Torres was living with Douglas Phillips and his family in October of 2007, Douglas Phillips entered Ms. Torres’s bedroom and without her consent began touching her breasts, stomach, back, neck, and waist. Phillips then began to masturbate and ejaculated on her. Ms. Torres asked Phillips to stop and broke down crying. Despite Ms. Torres’s repeated requests for Phillips to stop masturbating and ejaculating on her, Phillips proceeded to return and repeat this perverse and offensive conduct. Each night that Phillips returned, Ms. Torres requested that he stop. Defendant blatantly disregarded her requests but continued to masturbate and ejaculate on her each night.
The 30-page complaint goes on to sketch a devastating picture of Phillips and his ministry, offering a glimpse into the darker side of the Biblical Patriarchy movement that has taken root in some corners of Christian fundamentalism. In the belief system advocated by Phillips and Vision Forum, men have spiritual authority and dominion over church and family, while women are expected to submit absolutely to their fathers and husbands in all aspects of life.
Continue

A Sexual Abuse Lawsuit Is Rattling Christian Homeschoolers

Last fall, Douglas Phillips, a fundamentalist Christian homeschooling guru and leading proponent of the “Biblical Patriarchy” movement, shocked his followers by publicly admitting that he had a relationship with a woman other than his wife, and subsequently shuttered his popular—and lucrative—Vision Forum ministries. Given that philandering religious leaders are a dime a dozen, the story seemed pretty unremarkable at the time. Sure, it was sad news for Phillips and his fundamentalist friends, an illustrious circle that included Kirk CameronCreationist talking head Ken Ham, and the Duggar vagina militia. But mostly, it just looked like another minister getting a taste of forbidden fruit.

“There has been serious sin in my life for which God has graciously brought me to repentance,” Phillips said in a statement posted to Vision Forum’s website. “I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman. While we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.”

Then, last week, the bomb dropped. The woman with whom Phillips was involved, 29-year-old Lourdes Torres, slapped both him and Vision Forum with a lawsuit that indicates Phillips dramatically understated the nature of their “inappropriate relationship”—not least by implying that it was consensual. In the suit, Torres accuses him of sexual battery, exploitation, assault, and fraud, among other charges, and claims he used her as a “personal sex object” over the course of several years, including while she was working as a nanny in Phillips’s home. Torres is also suing Phillips’s now-defunct Vision Forum Ministries, and its for-profit arm, for negligent supervision and retention—in other words, for knowing about the abuse and not doing anything to stop it or remove Phillips from his leadership roles.  

According to the lawsuit, Phillips met Torres and her family at a homeschooling conference in 1999, when Torres was just 15. It claims that Phillips then proceeded to “methodically groom” the teenage girl, inviting Torres on family vacations, taking her on as a nanny for his kids, and showering her with compliments, money, and spiritual advice, until eventually she moved into the Phillips’s home as a nanny in 2007.

That’s when the allegations get gross:

While Ms. Torres was living with Douglas Phillips and his family in October of 2007, Douglas Phillips entered Ms. Torres’s bedroom and without her consent began touching her breasts, stomach, back, neck, and waist. Phillips then began to masturbate and ejaculated on her. Ms. Torres asked Phillips to stop and broke down crying. Despite Ms. Torres’s repeated requests for Phillips to stop masturbating and ejaculating on her, Phillips proceeded to return and repeat this perverse and offensive conduct. Each night that Phillips returned, Ms. Torres requested that he stop. Defendant blatantly disregarded her requests but continued to masturbate and ejaculate on her each night.

The 30-page complaint goes on to sketch a devastating picture of Phillips and his ministry, offering a glimpse into the darker side of the Biblical Patriarchy movement that has taken root in some corners of Christian fundamentalism. In the belief system advocated by Phillips and Vision Forum, men have spiritual authority and dominion over church and family, while women are expected to submit absolutely to their fathers and husbands in all aspects of life.

Continue

We Got Members of the Westboro Baptist Church to Take Buzzfeed Quizzes
As I’m sure you’ve heard, Fred Phelps, founder and head-dickhead of the Westboro Baptist Church, has died.
Presumably this has been a game changer in the Westboro world, and I wanted to get to know the new them. And what better way to get to know someone than making them do a bunch of Buzzfeed quizzes? They have told me many, many things about myself and others that I never knew (and also probably didn’t want to know, TBH.)
Below is how the members of the church answered the quizzes I sent to them. The answer they selected is presented with a short quote from them explaining their choice. Enjoy!

Which Sex and the City Guy Is Your Soulmate? – Taken by Westboro member Mara Phelps
Q. Pick a dress color for your first dateA. Black ("Black is the color of the human soul. We have no good in us.")
Q. Pick the activity for your first dateA. Dancing (“King David danced in the street after seeing the Lord’s divine rule acted out.”)
Q. Where do you want to sleep right now?A. A four poster bed. (“It reminds me of Roman times, when people had the word of God with them.”)
Q. What would you want for your anniversary?A. A dog. (“Because dogs are loyal.”)
Q. Pick a dogA. A terrier. (“It reminds me of a dog called April that we used to have. And someone, in the middle of the night, broke in and slit her throat.”)
Q. Pick a flowerA. An iris (“When we first moved to this house, we could see these flowers outside.”)
Q. Which New York City tourist attraction would you actually like to visit?A. The Empire State Building. (“It couldn’t have been made unless God had given the engineers and the people who built it the ability to do so.”)
Q. Pick a romantic comedyA. Pretty Woman (“She was supposedly a prostitute with a heart of gold. This generation has been raised to think being promiscuous is something to be proud of. And it is not.”)Q. Which word makes you squirm?A. Ooze (“There’s a sickness to it. The Lord has cursed fags with AIDS which causes them to have sores that ooze.”)
Q. When looking for a boyfriend, which of the following is most important?A. Loyalty. (“It’s important for people to have loyalty to one’s brothers.”)
Q. Pick a brunch dishA. Grapefruit. (“It looks really healthy.”)

"I’m not familiar with this character or the show at all. It says he expects the perfect wife. A lot of people expect things to be perfect for them even though they don’t deserve it."
Continue

We Got Members of the Westboro Baptist Church to Take Buzzfeed Quizzes

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Fred Phelps, founder and head-dickhead of the Westboro Baptist Church, has died.

Presumably this has been a game changer in the Westboro world, and I wanted to get to know the new them. And what better way to get to know someone than making them do a bunch of Buzzfeed quizzes? They have told me many, many things about myself and others that I never knew (and also probably didn’t want to know, TBH.)

Below is how the members of the church answered the quizzes I sent to them. The answer they selected is presented with a short quote from them explaining their choice. Enjoy!

Which Sex and the City Guy Is Your Soulmate? – Taken by Westboro member Mara Phelps

Q. Pick a dress color for your first date
A. Black ("Black is the color of the human soul. We have no good in us.")

Q. Pick the activity for your first date
A. Dancing (“King David danced in the street after seeing the Lord’s divine rule acted out.”)

Q. Where do you want to sleep right now?
A. A four poster bed. (“It reminds me of Roman times, when people had the word of God with them.”)

Q. What would you want for your anniversary?
A. A dog. (“Because dogs are loyal.”)

Q. Pick a dog
A. A terrier. (“It reminds me of a dog called April that we used to have. And someone, in the middle of the night, broke in and slit her throat.”)

Q. Pick a flower
A. An iris (“When we first moved to this house, we could see these flowers outside.”)

Q. Which New York City tourist attraction would you actually like to visit?
A. The Empire State Building. (“It couldn’t have been made unless God had given the engineers and the people who built it the ability to do so.”)

Q. Pick a romantic comedy
A. Pretty Woman (“She was supposedly a prostitute with a heart of gold. This generation has been raised to think being promiscuous is something to be proud of. And it is not.”)

Q. Which word makes you squirm?
A. Ooze (“There’s a sickness to it. The Lord has cursed fags with AIDS which causes them to have sores that ooze.”)

Q. When looking for a boyfriend, which of the following is most important?
A. Loyalty. (“It’s important for people to have loyalty to one’s brothers.”)

Q. Pick a brunch dish
A. Grapefruit. (“It looks really healthy.”)

"I’m not familiar with this character or the show at all. It says he expects the perfect wife. A lot of people expect things to be perfect for them even though they don’t deserve it."

Continue

The World’s Largest Christian TV Network Has a Lot to Hide
Trinity Broadcasting Network (or TBN) is the largest Christian TV network in the world. Its shows are currently available in 95 percent of American homes.
TBN has its headquarters in Costa Mesa, California, in the modest building you see above. The network offers free tours to the public, so I headed down to check it out. 

This guy (above, right) was the tour guide for my group, which was made up of me and a visiting Boy Scout troop. I’m not sure if he was new or something, but he left A LOT of the company’s history out of his tour, so I’ll be filling in some gaps for him as I go. 

Our tour began in the grand entrance hall. As we walked through, the tour guide explained to us that TBN was started in the early 70s by married couple Jan and Paul Crouch in an effort to spread Christianity to as many people as they could. 
What he failed to mention is the church’s reliance on what’s known as “prosperity gospel.”
If you’re not familiar, prosperity gospel is a system in which you’re told that the more money you give to the Lord, the more blessings the Lord will give to you in return. In this instance, “the Lord” refers to “Trinity Broadcasting Network.” 
They gather these donations by holding telethons in which they promise viewers miracles in exchange for donating money to TBN. And being poor isn’t a problem: The network tells viewers that God especially likes it when people who are poor or in debt donate money they can’t afford. ”He’ll give you thousands, hundreds of thousands; he’ll give millions and billions of dollars,” Paul Crouch once told his viewers, according to the LA Times.
The company is reported to bring in tens of millions of dollars in tax-free donations annually. It is unclear if God held up his end of the bargain to those who donated.

Next, we were taken around a small museum area that featured various old copies of the Bible, some of which were more than 100 years old. 
Continue

The World’s Largest Christian TV Network Has a Lot to Hide

Trinity Broadcasting Network (or TBN) is the largest Christian TV network in the world. Its shows are currently available in 95 percent of American homes.

TBN has its headquarters in Costa Mesa, California, in the modest building you see above. The network offers free tours to the public, so I headed down to check it out. 

This guy (above, right) was the tour guide for my group, which was made up of me and a visiting Boy Scout troop. I’m not sure if he was new or something, but he left A LOT of the company’s history out of his tour, so I’ll be filling in some gaps for him as I go. 

Our tour began in the grand entrance hall. As we walked through, the tour guide explained to us that TBN was started in the early 70s by married couple Jan and Paul Crouch in an effort to spread Christianity to as many people as they could. 

What he failed to mention is the church’s reliance on what’s known as “prosperity gospel.”

If you’re not familiar, prosperity gospel is a system in which you’re told that the more money you give to the Lord, the more blessings the Lord will give to you in return. In this instance, “the Lord” refers to “Trinity Broadcasting Network.” 

They gather these donations by holding telethons in which they promise viewers miracles in exchange for donating money to TBN. And being poor isn’t a problem: The network tells viewers that God especially likes it when people who are poor or in debt donate money they can’t afford. ”He’ll give you thousands, hundreds of thousands; he’ll give millions and billions of dollars,” Paul Crouch once told his viewers, according to the LA Times.

The company is reported to bring in tens of millions of dollars in tax-free donations annually. It is unclear if God held up his end of the bargain to those who donated.

Next, we were taken around a small museum area that featured various old copies of the Bible, some of which were more than 100 years old. 

Continue


I wanted to know: Would Jesus ever use a gun?
The pastor thought a moment. “I don’t think so, because as God, he doesn’t need a gun. He can command anything, and it would happen. But all of his followers carried swords for three and a half years, and not one time did he tell them to put those swords down. The only time that Jesus told Peter to put his sword back was at the very end. That was because Jesus came to die on the cross to pay for our sins, and he did not want Peter to get in the way.”
“Why did Jesus want them to have swords?”
“For exactly what we need guns for—for personal protection and to protect our liberties… All you have to do is read 1984 to know what’s going on in this country.”

—We visited the church in upstate New York that’s giving away AR-15s

I wanted to know: Would Jesus ever use a gun?

The pastor thought a moment. “I don’t think so, because as God, he doesn’t need a gun. He can command anything, and it would happen. But all of his followers carried swords for three and a half years, and not one time did he tell them to put those swords down. The only time that Jesus told Peter to put his sword back was at the very end. That was because Jesus came to die on the cross to pay for our sins, and he did not want Peter to get in the way.”

“Why did Jesus want them to have swords?”

“For exactly what we need guns for—for personal protection and to protect our liberties… All you have to do is read 1984 to know what’s going on in this country.”

We visited the church in upstate New York that’s giving away AR-15s

Westboro Baptist Church Founder Fred Phelps Has Died – Fuck That Guy
So, Fred Phelps has gone to live with the big fag-hater in the sky. America mourns. The rainbow flags are fluttering at half mast. Really, you can’t overestimate how cut up the nation is. Who, for example, is left to piss all over the country’s dead soldiers? It’s a responsibility everyone will have to shoulder together.
Saddest of all, the big ol’ flirt ended his days estranged from even the two dozen people he’d made it his life’s work to keep tame and mute. Excommunicated from his church and emotionally exiled from 99.9 percent of the human race, Fred Phelps died as alone as it is possible for a man to be. Pity him for his grim motiveless anger, but let’s at least remember him as he would have wanted us to: as a psychotic, sadistic life-wrecker and overall pretty bad egg. He certainly didn’t want your pity, as the following catalog of ugh will show.
Continue reading about how terrible Fred Phelps was

Westboro Baptist Church Founder Fred Phelps Has Died – Fuck That Guy

So, Fred Phelps has gone to live with the big fag-hater in the sky. America mourns. The rainbow flags are fluttering at half mast. Really, you can’t overestimate how cut up the nation is. Who, for example, is left to piss all over the country’s dead soldiers? It’s a responsibility everyone will have to shoulder together.

Saddest of all, the big ol’ flirt ended his days estranged from even the two dozen people he’d made it his life’s work to keep tame and mute. Excommunicated from his church and emotionally exiled from 99.9 percent of the human race, Fred Phelps died as alone as it is possible for a man to be. Pity him for his grim motiveless anger, but let’s at least remember him as he would have wanted us to: as a psychotic, sadistic life-wrecker and overall pretty bad egg. He certainly didn’t want your pity, as the following catalog of ugh will show.

Continue reading about how terrible Fred Phelps was

They’re Only ‘Illegals’ if They’re Brown: American Conservatives Welcome Immigrants—Just as Long as They’re White Christians
The key to getting asylum in the United States is to be white, socially conservative, and really into Jesus—or at least that’s the lesson imparted by the US government’s decisionnot to deport a family running away from Germany’s educational system. And conservatives—the same sort who complain about immigrants destroying our culture, insofar as we have one—couldn’t be happier.
Devout Christians Uwe and Hannelore Romeike came to the US in 2008 because they wanted to keep their kids out of school, for religious reasons. Although Germany allows children to attend faith-based schools, those schools must comply with German educational standards—and apparently none of them were devout enough for the Romeikes, who moved to Tennessee after being hit with thousands of dollars in fines by the German government for homeschooling their kids.
“Like the Pilgrims, they fled their homeland yearning for a place where they could be free,”wrote Todd Starnes, a bigot who appears on Fox News, in a recent article on the plight of the Romeikes that gives the unfortunate impression they’re here to spread disease, slaughter the natives, and steal their land. The family of nine’s case has been taken up by all the usual right-wing suspects, from Breitbart to TownHall to the Blaze, Glenn Beck’s bullshit “news” service. The family and its supporters say the German state has no right to indoctrinate their children and to dictate what they can and cannot learn; that right belongs to mom and dad.
Continue

They’re Only ‘Illegals’ if They’re Brown: American Conservatives Welcome Immigrants—Just as Long as They’re White Christians

The key to getting asylum in the United States is to be white, socially conservative, and really into Jesus—or at least that’s the lesson imparted by the US government’s decisionnot to deport a family running away from Germany’s educational system. And conservatives—the same sort who complain about immigrants destroying our culture, insofar as we have one—couldn’t be happier.

Devout Christians Uwe and Hannelore Romeike came to the US in 2008 because they wanted to keep their kids out of school, for religious reasons. Although Germany allows children to attend faith-based schools, those schools must comply with German educational standards—and apparently none of them were devout enough for the Romeikes, who moved to Tennessee after being hit with thousands of dollars in fines by the German government for homeschooling their kids.

“Like the Pilgrims, they fled their homeland yearning for a place where they could be free,”wrote Todd Starnes, a bigot who appears on Fox News, in a recent article on the plight of the Romeikes that gives the unfortunate impression they’re here to spread disease, slaughter the natives, and steal their land. The family of nine’s case has been taken up by all the usual right-wing suspects, from Breitbart to TownHall to the Blaze, Glenn Beck’s bullshit “news” service. The family and its supporters say the German state has no right to indoctrinate their children and to dictate what they can and cannot learn; that right belongs to mom and dad.

Continue

"It was just a normal day. I’d been out having sex with some girls, and then I saw Jesus." 
We interviewed a British porn star quit lesbian scenes for the Lord

"It was just a normal day. I’d been out having sex with some girls, and then I saw Jesus."

We interviewed a British porn star quit lesbian scenes for the Lord

A program in Phoenix called Project ROSE arrests sex workers in massive raids and brings them to a church, where they are held extra-judicially and offered alternative sentences without lawyers, judges, or due process.

A program in Phoenix called Project ROSE arrests sex workers in massive raids and brings them to a church, where they are held extra-judicially and offered alternative sentences without lawyers, judges, or due process.

Atheists and Christians Arguing About Nothing
Tonight, Bill Nye the Science Guy is going onstage at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, to argue about evolution with the museum’s founder Ken Ham, who is a young-earth creationist, meaning he thinks the world is only a few thousand years old. Nye is going to “win” the debate in the eyes of anyone who thinks that science is right about anything; Ham’s going to be similarly celebrated by a lot of hardcore Biblical literalists. The debate is the WWE for pseudointellectuals who spend too much time on Reddit, a made-for-YouTube event that will serve as a soapbox for Nye and Ham to stand on and shout.
Read the whole piece

Atheists and Christians Arguing About Nothing

Tonight, Bill Nye the Science Guy is going onstage at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, to argue about evolution with the museum’s founder Ken Ham, who is a young-earth creationist, meaning he thinks the world is only a few thousand years old. Nye is going to “win” the debate in the eyes of anyone who thinks that science is right about anything; Ham’s going to be similarly celebrated by a lot of hardcore Biblical literalists. The debate is the WWE for pseudointellectuals who spend too much time on Reddit, a made-for-YouTube event that will serve as a soapbox for Nye and Ham to stand on and shout.

Read the whole piece

Syria’s Christian Minority Are Fighting Back 
The security office is so neatly tucked away into a small side street that it’s a little difficult to take it seriously as a threatening resistance operation. Inside, young guys are sitting around with rifles, some in uniform, others in civilian clothes. It’s a typical scene in today’s Syria, a country with more armed groups than is possible to count, except for the fact that the office is so clean you could eat off the floor, and most of the men are strikingly well-groomed. Also, the sign on the office wall is in a language other than Arabic or Kurdish, the two main languages of the region, and there is a cross in its center.
Sutoro, the name the organization goes under,means “police” in Syriac, the language of theAssyrian Christians of the area—the Hasakah Governorate in the northeast of the country. The group has been described as a Christian militia, but it’s really a neighborhood watch, albeit with arrest powers and automatic weapons. Its members patrol the streets of Qahtaniya, Al-Malikiyah and Qamishli, towns and cities where people—mostly Kurds, but also Christians and Sunni Arabs—are locked in a brutal struggle against Islamist militants, some of them with ties to al Qaeda.
Syria’s Christians—many of whom are richer and more comfortable than the country’s mostly poor Sunni majority—have mostly featured in the news as victims of the country’s civil war. The fightingbetween Islamist rebels and government forces in Maaloula, a Christian town north of Damascus where Aramaic, the language of Christ, is still spoken, has been widely reported and seen as another ominous development for a community that was, until a few years ago, thriving not just in Syria but also in Iraq. Since the conflict began, 450,000 Christians are thought to have left the country, more than a quarter of the original total. But some are now resisting.
Continue

Syria’s Christian Minority Are Fighting Back 

The security office is so neatly tucked away into a small side street that it’s a little difficult to take it seriously as a threatening resistance operation. Inside, young guys are sitting around with rifles, some in uniform, others in civilian clothes. It’s a typical scene in today’s Syria, a country with more armed groups than is possible to count, except for the fact that the office is so clean you could eat off the floor, and most of the men are strikingly well-groomed. Also, the sign on the office wall is in a language other than Arabic or Kurdish, the two main languages of the region, and there is a cross in its center.

Sutoro, the name the organization goes under,means “police” in Syriac, the language of theAssyrian Christians of the area—the Hasakah Governorate in the northeast of the country. The group has been described as a Christian militia, but it’s really a neighborhood watch, albeit with arrest powers and automatic weapons. Its members patrol the streets of Qahtaniya, Al-Malikiyah and Qamishli, towns and cities where people—mostly Kurds, but also Christians and Sunni Arabs—are locked in a brutal struggle against Islamist militants, some of them with ties to al Qaeda.

Syria’s Christians—many of whom are richer and more comfortable than the country’s mostly poor Sunni majority—have mostly featured in the news as victims of the country’s civil war. The fightingbetween Islamist rebels and government forces in Maaloula, a Christian town north of Damascus where Aramaic, the language of Christ, is still spoken, has been widely reported and seen as another ominous development for a community that was, until a few years ago, thriving not just in Syria but also in Iraq. Since the conflict began, 450,000 Christians are thought to have left the country, more than a quarter of the original total. But some are now resisting.

Continue

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