vicenews:

Last time we checked in on British Jihadists, they were posting snaps of themselves messing about in swimming pools, hoarding Cadbury’s chocolates from home, and generally having a good time. Everything has changed.

"Behead first, ask questions later"

vicenews:

Last time we checked in on British Jihadists, they were posting snaps of themselves messing about in swimming pools, hoarding Cadbury’s chocolates from home, and generally having a good time. Everything has changed.

"Behead first, ask questions later"

Which Pop Star Should Be Your Best Friend? – Taken by Westboro Baptist Church member Rebekah Phelps-Roper.
Q. What would you like to do for a night out?A. Go see some live music. (“We sing a lot of parodies of popular music. I sing the Lorde one, you can hear it on our Soundcloud.”)
Q. What do you usually talk about?A. How to make the world a better place. (“By preaching, because that is the only way anything can get better.”)
Q. What should your best friend do if you get dumped?A. Try to make you laugh. (“I don’t date, so I’m answering as though a man at a picket yelled at me.”)
Q. How do you feel about gossip?A. Haters gonna hate. (“That pretty much describes everyone who talks about us, including the media.”)
Q. Which show would you binge watch?A. Adventure Time. (“I haven’t binge watched a show since Grey’s Anatomy.”)
Q. And what would you like to eat while you’re watching it?A. Popcorn and Diet Coke. (“Whatever you’re going to eat, make sure it’s in moderation, because that’s how you’re meant to live your life.”)
Q. How would your best friend celebrate your birthday?A. Bake you a cake. (“I love celebrating things with cakes, including birthdays.”)
Q. What should be the tone of their toast at your wedding?A. Earnest. (“Because weddings are, of course, solemn things.”)
RESULT:

"We picketed Taylor Swift! She would not be my best friend, because I would tell her very kindly and gently, ‘you have to stop sleeping around with men, girl.’ The Lord hates that."
See more Buzzfeed quizzes taken by Westboro Baptist Church members

Which Pop Star Should Be Your Best Friend? – Taken by Westboro Baptist Church member Rebekah Phelps-Roper.

Q. What would you like to do for a night out?
A. Go see some live music. (“We sing a lot of parodies of popular music. I sing the Lorde one, you can hear it on our Soundcloud.”)

Q. What do you usually talk about?
A. How to make the world a better place. (“By preaching, because that is the only way anything can get better.”)

Q. What should your best friend do if you get dumped?
A. Try to make you laugh. (“I don’t date, so I’m answering as though a man at a picket yelled at me.”)

Q. How do you feel about gossip?
A. Haters gonna hate. (“That pretty much describes everyone who talks about us, including the media.”)

Q. Which show would you binge watch?
A. Adventure Time. (“I haven’t binge watched a show since Grey’s Anatomy.”)

Q. And what would you like to eat while you’re watching it?
A. Popcorn and Diet Coke. (“Whatever you’re going to eat, make sure it’s in moderation, because that’s how you’re meant to live your life.”)

Q. How would your best friend celebrate your birthday?
A. Bake you a cake. (“I love celebrating things with cakes, including birthdays.”)

Q. What should be the tone of their toast at your wedding?
A. Earnest. (“Because weddings are, of course, solemn things.”)

RESULT:

"We picketed Taylor Swift! She would not be my best friend, because I would tell her very kindly and gently, ‘you have to stop sleeping around with men, girl.’ The Lord hates that."

See more Buzzfeed quizzes taken by Westboro Baptist Church members

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

These Guys Are Trying to Improve Lebanese Sex Lives
“If my girlfriend doesn’t come, can I return this?”
That’s one of the stranger queries the founders of Yalla Condoms have had from customers since launching their lube and condom delivery website a little over a week ago.
According to Yalla founders Zadi Hobeika and Robert Tabet, the site is a result of a very local problem. They say that the average Lebanese person isn’t exactly comfortable when it comes to buying contraceptives. So at a party in January of this year, the two came up with a remedy: a discreet service that could supply a vast array of condoms, lube, creams, and various sex-related accessories to the masses, allowing them to practice safe sex while also broadening their horizons. In a society where the neighborhood pharmacy may well be owned by your family’s landlord, any opportunity to avoid an awkward encounter while buying all your sexual paraphernalia is a welcomed one. 
Hobeika, 28, has lived abroad most of his life, but owns an advertising agency in Lebanon and recently left Google Dublin to come back to his homeland. He made the move in the hope of working on projects that he feels passionately about, and watching him switch between laughter and mock seriousness, it becomes immediately clear that he and Tabet are enjoying their first foray into the sex-product industry.
Continue

These Guys Are Trying to Improve Lebanese Sex Lives

“If my girlfriend doesn’t come, can I return this?”

That’s one of the stranger queries the founders of Yalla Condoms have had from customers since launching their lube and condom delivery website a little over a week ago.

According to Yalla founders Zadi Hobeika and Robert Tabet, the site is a result of a very local problem. They say that the average Lebanese person isn’t exactly comfortable when it comes to buying contraceptives. So at a party in January of this year, the two came up with a remedy: a discreet service that could supply a vast array of condoms, lube, creams, and various sex-related accessories to the masses, allowing them to practice safe sex while also broadening their horizons. In a society where the neighborhood pharmacy may well be owned by your family’s landlord, any opportunity to avoid an awkward encounter while buying all your sexual paraphernalia is a welcomed one. 

Hobeika, 28, has lived abroad most of his life, but owns an advertising agency in Lebanon and recently left Google Dublin to come back to his homeland. He made the move in the hope of working on projects that he feels passionately about, and watching him switch between laughter and mock seriousness, it becomes immediately clear that he and Tabet are enjoying their first foray into the sex-product industry.

Continue

Narco-Saints Are Melding Catholicism with the Drug Trade in Mexico
Since the 1970s, Mexico has been plagued with high-volume drug traffickers attempting to satiate the United States’ demand for low-cost narcotics, resulting in country-wide violence and guerrilla warfare in the streets. In Mexico, a rapidly adopted narco-culture built on the back of folk Catholicism has transformed from back-alley prayers to narco-saint Jesús Malverde into public altars for Santa Muerte, Lady of the Holy Death.
Patrick Polk is a professor at the UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures, as well as a curator of Latin American and Caribbean Arts. His current exhibit at UCLA’s Fowler Museum takes on representations of narco-culture, along with marginalized religious icons and unrecognized sacred figures from Latin America and the United States. Called Sinful Saints and Saintly Sinners, the collection plays on folk legends and the drug traffickers and impoverished who rely on them as nonjudgmental sources of strength and protection. I sat down with the bespectacled, bearded professor, who has an upside-down tattoo of St. Expedite on his right arm.

Marcos López (b. Santa Fe, Argentina, 1958): Santos Populares,  2013
VICE: Where does your interest in narco-saints start?Patrick Polk: Well, I got my MA and PhD in folklore here at UCLA, so my interests have fundamentally been religions and ritual traditions of the African diaspora and also popular religion and religious art in the United States. A lot of my work has been where Europe and Native America and Latin America and Africa sort of collide in Los Angeles, particularly with the way in which religion, material culture, and visual spirituality mix and mingle and reshape in LA.
Not a lot of saints here.I’m from an even more sinful place: Las Vegas. But I love to drive around LA and just look and see what kind of things pop out. I’ve done exhibitions on storefront murals, muffler sculptures, little rider bicycles. A lot of folk art in general and religious art in the sense of the vernacular.
Continue

Narco-Saints Are Melding Catholicism with the Drug Trade in Mexico

Since the 1970s, Mexico has been plagued with high-volume drug traffickers attempting to satiate the United States’ demand for low-cost narcotics, resulting in country-wide violence and guerrilla warfare in the streets. In Mexico, a rapidly adopted narco-culture built on the back of folk Catholicism has transformed from back-alley prayers to narco-saint Jesús Malverde into public altars for Santa Muerte, Lady of the Holy Death.

Patrick Polk is a professor at the UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures, as well as a curator of Latin American and Caribbean Arts. His current exhibit at UCLA’s Fowler Museum takes on representations of narco-culture, along with marginalized religious icons and unrecognized sacred figures from Latin America and the United States. Called Sinful Saints and Saintly Sinners, the collection plays on folk legends and the drug traffickers and impoverished who rely on them as nonjudgmental sources of strength and protection. I sat down with the bespectacled, bearded professor, who has an upside-down tattoo of St. Expedite on his right arm.

Marcos López (b. Santa Fe, Argentina, 1958): Santos Populares,  2013

VICE: Where does your interest in narco-saints start?
Patrick Polk: Well, I got my MA and PhD in folklore here at UCLA, so my interests have fundamentally been religions and ritual traditions of the African diaspora and also popular religion and religious art in the United States. A lot of my work has been where Europe and Native America and Latin America and Africa sort of collide in Los Angeles, particularly with the way in which religion, material culture, and visual spirituality mix and mingle and reshape in LA.

Not a lot of saints here.
I’m from an even more sinful place: Las Vegas. But I love to drive around LA and just look and see what kind of things pop out. I’ve done exhibitions on storefront murals, muffler sculptures, little rider bicycles. A lot of folk art in general and religious art in the sense of the vernacular.

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

vicenews:

We traveled to the Negev to visit Bedouin communities as they fought the Israeli government’s decision to forcibly displace them.

vicenews:

We traveled to the Negev to visit Bedouin communities as they fought the Israeli government’s decision to forcibly displace them.

An Interview with Fred Phelp’s Son Nathan
Westboro Baptist Church founder and world-famous bastard Fred Phelps died last week — and it doesn’t look like he’ll be missed even by a large part of his large family (he had 13 children and 54 grandchildren), who still make up a large part of what remains of the WBC.
So far, more than 20 members of the Phelps family have left the church due to his behavior and WBC’s practices. One of them is Nathan Phelps, who left the Kansas family house at 18, accusing his father of, among other things, child abuse. Having completely denounced the WBC dogma, Nathan now lives in Canada, calls himself an atheist, and is an avid supporter of LGBT rights. He has also spent the past few years giving speeches and interviews about his experience as a member of WBC.
Back in 2012, I had the honor of having Nate stay as a guest in my house for a few days. Once I heard about his father’s death, and with the Facebook announcement Nate made about it in mind, I got in touch with him again.
VICE: Hey Nate, how do you feel about your dad dying?Nathan Phelps: I haven’t seen my father in over 35 years. I spoke to him once, briefly, in 1995. Ten years after I left home, I went through a deliberate mourning process for the loss of my family. Between that and the passage of time, I believed I would have no feelings when he passed. I was surprised that there were feelings when I learned of his condition and then his death. I’ve now had a few days to consider those feelings, and I think the sadness is over what might have been.

When you revealed that your father was dying a few days ago, you said family members that left the church were being blocked from seeing him. If you had been able to, would you have wanted to see him one last time in person?In a perfect world, I would have jumped at that chance. I left that place 37 years ago as a fearful young man. The absence of interaction, an opportunity to process that, only means I still have that fear to contend with. If there were the least bit of evidence that our relationship had changed in his eyes, I would be there in a heartbeat. Other than that, my greatest concern was for my family members who had expressed a desire to see him and were being denied that opportunity.
Continue

An Interview with Fred Phelp’s Son Nathan

Westboro Baptist Church founder and world-famous bastard Fred Phelps died last week — and it doesn’t look like he’ll be missed even by a large part of his large family (he had 13 children and 54 grandchildren), who still make up a large part of what remains of the WBC.

So far, more than 20 members of the Phelps family have left the church due to his behavior and WBC’s practices. One of them is Nathan Phelps, who left the Kansas family house at 18, accusing his father of, among other things, child abuse. Having completely denounced the WBC dogma, Nathan now lives in Canada, calls himself an atheist, and is an avid supporter of LGBT rights. He has also spent the past few years giving speeches and interviews about his experience as a member of WBC.

Back in 2012, I had the honor of having Nate stay as a guest in my house for a few days. Once I heard about his father’s death, and with the Facebook announcement Nate made about it in mind, I got in touch with him again.

VICE: Hey Nate, how do you feel about your dad dying?
Nathan Phelps: 
I haven’t seen my father in over 35 years. I spoke to him once, briefly, in 1995. Ten years after I left home, I went through a deliberate mourning process for the loss of my family. Between that and the passage of time, I believed I would have no feelings when he passed. I was surprised that there were feelings when I learned of his condition and then his death. I’ve now had a few days to consider those feelings, and I think the sadness is over what might have been.

When you revealed that your father was dying a few days ago, you said family members that left the church were being blocked from seeing him. If you had been able to, would you have wanted to see him one last time in person?
In a perfect world, I would have jumped at that chance. I left that place 37 years ago as a fearful young man. The absence of interaction, an opportunity to process that, only means I still have that fear to contend with. If there were the least bit of evidence that our relationship had changed in his eyes, I would be there in a heartbeat. Other than that, my greatest concern was for my family members who had expressed a desire to see him and were being denied that opportunity.

Continue

The Devil Tried to Divide Us: War in the Central African Republic (Full Length) →

vicenews:

The Central African Republic’s capital of Bangui has seen its Muslim population drop from 130,000 to under 1000 over the past few months. Over the past year, thousands across CAR have been killed and nearly a million have been displaced. The United Nations recently stated that the entire Western half of the country has now been cleansed of Muslims.

Watch the entire documentary on VICE News.

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