USA: Honoring America’s Vets Act Signed By President Obama, Banning Westboro Baptist Cult Funeral Protests
The Huffington Post reports:
President Barack Obama signed the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 into law on Monday, providing a wide-ranging package of benefits to military personnel and enacting new restrictions on protests of service member funerals.
“We have a moral sacred duty to our men and women in uniform,” Obama said before signing the bill, according to a pool report. “The graves of our veterans are hallowed grounds.”
The new law will have strong implications for the Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas-based organization which the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have labeled a hate group. Westboro Baptist Church has drawn media attention for its brand of protest, which frequently links the deaths of soldiers to America’s growing acceptance of gays.
Under the new legislation, protests must be held at least 300 feet from military funerals and are prohibited two hours before or after a service. The law counters a2011 Supreme Court ruling, which found that displays such as Westboro’s were protected under the First Amendment.
Members of the church responded defiantly to a Huffington Post report following Congress’ passage of the bill, claiming that the law’s restrictions could also have an effect on counter-demonstrations organized in response to Westboro’s attempts to disrupt military services.
Two of these counter-efforts drew national attention last month, when large groups of people turned out in both Missouri and in Texas in an attempt to create “human walls” to shield attendees of military funerals from Westboro’s demonstrations.
In an interview over the weekend, Westboro spokesman Steven Drain told CNN that the new law was “not going to change our plans at all.”
According to the Army Times, future violations of The Honoring America’s Veterans Act would include the possibility of $50,000 in statutory damages.
For more on The Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, click here.
NEW YORK CITY: Cardinal Timothy Dolan Accused Of Paying Off Pedophile Priests
Last night, it was reported that Cardinal Dolan paid off pedophiles instead of reporting them to the authorities, when he was the Archbishop of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The New York Times reports:
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York authorized payments of as much as $20,000 to sexually abusive priests as an incentive for them to agree to dismissal from the priesthood when he was the archbishop of Milwaukee. Questioned at the time about the news that one particularly notorious pedophile cleric had been given a “payoff” to leave the priesthood, Cardinal Dolan, then the archbishop, responded that such an inference was “false, preposterous and unjust.” But a document unearthed during bankruptcy proceedings for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and made public by victims’ advocates reveals that the archdiocese did make such payments to multiple accused priests to encourage them to seek dismissal, thereby allowing the church to remove them from the payroll. A spokesman for the archdiocese confirmed on Wednesday that payments of as much as $20,000 were made to “a handful” of accused priests “as a motivation” not to contest being defrocked. The process, known as “laicization,” is a formal church juridical procedure that requires Vatican approval, and can take far longer if the priest objects.
RELADTED: According to the NYT, at a meeting of the Milwaukee’s Archdiocese, at which the then Archbishop of Milwaukee, and now Cardinal Timothy Dolan, discussed a proposal to “offer $20,000 to the child molestors for laicization ($10,000 at the start and $10,000 at the completion the process).” Instead of salary, they would receive a $1,250 monthly pension benefit, and, until they found another job, health insurance.
MARYLAND: Mormons Working To Overturn Gay Marriage Bill
The Huffington Post reports:
Mormons are gathering signatures to bring a referendum on Maryland’s marriage equality law to the ballot in November, as the state’s pro-gay marriage coalition hires a new leader and a recent poll shows more support in Maryland for the law. The Washington Blade reports that Mormon Church members are actively working to overturn the law legalizing same-sex marriage that was signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley in March, making Maryland the eighth state to legalize gay marriage. Maryland’s law will go into effect in January 2013, if the state’s voters don’t repeal the law in November. The Blade published an email sent to Mormons in D.C. and southern Maryland, asking for help gathering 200,000 signatures to bring a referendum on the law to Maryland voters in November — here is an excerpt from the email:
- As you have probably heard, the Maryland legislature passed a same sex marriage bill last February. A coalition of inter-denominational churches throughout Maryland has joined together to try to get a referendum on the November ballot that would allow the residents of Maryland to vote on this bill before it becomes law. Martha Schaerr, who is a member of the LDS Church, is organizing signature collection within Montgomery County and within the LDS Church.We need to collect approximately 200,000 signatures by the end of May. We are looking for people to gather signatures within the LDS community. If you are willing to help with this important effort please contact Martha Schaerr as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org or Teressa Wallace at email@example.com.
Mormon Church officials told The Blade that it is not involved with the referendum effort — but The Blade finds parallels between the Maryland effort and the Church of Latter-day Saints’ efforts in California:
- Dale Jones, an LDS spokesperson, said the church has no direct involvement in the effort to overturn the marriage law in Maryland.“While the Church’s position in support of traditional marriage is well established, the effort in Maryland is not being organized through the Church’s headquarters in Salt Lake City,” Jones said. “Members, of course, will make their own decisions regarding their involvement in local issues.”But the message recalls the Mormon Church’s lead role in passage of Proposition 8 in California in 2008. The First Presidency of the Church, or its governing body, publicly backed the initiative and reportedly encouraged members during church services to take an active role in contributing money and get-out-the-vote efforts to support the ban’s passage.
Meanwhile Marylanders for Marriage Equality, a coalition that helped pass and is now working to uphold Maryland’s gay marriage law,appointed a new campaign manager on Wednesday — The Baltimore Sunfinds the hiring to be evidence that opponents of the law are very likely to collect the required 55,736 valid signatures needed to put the measure on the November ballot. Josh Levin, a veteran political strategist is taking the job as the most recent poll numbers show growing support for the law among Maryland voters, according to The Sun:
- The announcement of the appointment came as same-sex marriage proponents were touting the results of a poll by Hart Research suggesting that Maryland voters favor the new law by 51 percent to 43 perecent. That is a wider margin than suggested in most previous polls.
The Washington Post’s latest poll reporting, at the end of March, showed Maryland voters nearly split, with opponents feeling more strongly opposed to same-sex marriage than supporters feel in favor.
The Rosie Show: Hate Group “The Westboro Baptist Cult” Reacts To Nate Phelps’ Comments
Rosie interviewed Nate Phelps, one of the 13 children Fred Phelps spawned. He tells stories about the abuse he suffered in his childhood, and how those issues have played a role in his life ever since, including in his parenthood.
Rosie also interviewed the gay grandson of televangelist Oral Roberts, Randy Roberts Potts.
WASHINGTON: Westboro Baptist Cult Opts Out Of Protest At Two Young Brothers
The Advocate reports:
The Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, known for its protests of funerals and LGBT-related events, has now reneged on protesting the funerals for two young brothers.
Church leaders initially said that the deaths of Charlie Powell and Braden Powell was a retaliation from God over the passage of marriage equality laws in Washington state. A Seattle radio DJ gave Fred Phelps Jr., the founder of the church, a chance to present his views, but MSNBC reports that Phelps could only speak on air if he agreed to call off the protest. Phelps tweeted after his interview that the protest would no longer be taking place.
The Powell boys were killed Sunday during a supervised visit with their father, Josh Powell. Powell blew up the home, resulting in their deaths.
Dan Savage To Utah’s Pornphobe Bigots: All Men Watch Porn*
Via Dan’s Slog:
But not all men murder their wives and children.
* Some men claim they don’t watch porn. No one believes them.
UPDATE: Sorry, I just have to throw in a quote from this absolutely idiotic story out of Utah—the state with the highest per-capita porn consumption rates in the nation—that argues that WATCHING PORN WILL KILL YOUR BRAIN AND THEN YOU WILL KILL YOUR CHILDREN:
This is completely insane—sexphobic, pornphobic hysteria of the latter-day order.
- In the wake of Josh Powell’s actions that killed his sons and himself Sunday, KSL has heard from many viewers asking, “How does a person do this?” “Are there warning signs?” … Julie Hanks, a licensed clinical social worker, said, “The fact that he murdered his own sons shows that he did not regard them as real people. I think he did see them as possessions.” What causes a person to disconnect? Pornography allegedly played a role in the Powell family. Josh’s father, Steven Powell, is in jail facing child pornography charges, and it has been alleged that Josh had images on his computer.
- Susanne Gustin, a criminal defense attorney, said, “It seems to me that it was adult pornography, but it was probably pretty hard core. That raised some concerns in the investigators’ minds and in the judge’s mind.” Pornography alone can be harmful, but coupled with severe personality disorders it can lead to destruction. Another licensed clinical social worker and therapist, John Murdock, said, “Pornography, in particular, is going to shut down your frontal lobes, and that’s where you are going to do your reasoning, your emotional regulation and your judgment, things of that nature. It’s like being in a car with no brakes.”
How many men have murdered their children in Utah this week? Utah, again, has the highest porn consumption rates per capita in the whole freaking nation. If viewing pornography “shut down [the] frontal lobes” and that lead men to kill their children—if porn consumption was one of the “warning signs” that you may be married to a Josh Powell—it’s a miracle that children make it out of Utah alive.
Most men watch porn. Most men watch hardcore porn. Most men don’t kill their children.
Church (It’s Really A Cult) Of Scientology Investigated South Park Creators Matt Stone & Trey Parker
The Huffington Post reports:
For Matt Stone and Trey Parker, nothing is holy or immune to satire. And since the launch of their groundbreaking animated TV series “South Park,” they’ve skewered a multitude of world religions, pointing out hypocrisies, inanities or just playing with ridiculous stereotypes. One of their most famous religious satires, 2005’s Scientology-targeting “Trapped In The Closet” episode, allegedly struck such a nerve with the church’s leaders that the group responded by targeting Stone, Parker and their friends in a long-term covert investigation.
Marty Rathbun, a former Church of Scientology executive-turned-critic and independent worshipper, revealed to the Village Voice a number of documents that detailed the religious sect’s detailed surveillance of the Emmy-winning TV moguls. Through the help of informants, public records and various other means, they searched for “vulnerabilities” in the pair’s personal lives, and after exploring their personal and business connections, widened their focus to investigating actors such as John Stamos, as well.
“Phone records. Bank records. Personal letters that expose some kind of vulnerability,” Rathbuntold the Voice. “They’ll read stuff into the kind of alcohol you’re drinking and how much. Prescriptions. They’ll figure out your diet. They can find out a lot about you through your trash.”
Rathbun’s personal site leads with a post that includes more information, including this summary: “In ’06 the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, became targets of Corporate Scientology’s OSA. Operations were run in an attempt to silence Parker and Stone. While Corporate Scientology was ultimately unsuccessful, left behind an instructive data trail during their efforts.”
“Trapped in the Closet” featured a storyline that had Stan, one of the four children that make up the show’s core, take a “personality test” after being encountered on the street by a group of Scientologists. The vague test reveals that he is miserable, which leads him to agree to pay the church to make him happy again. An “E-meter” reading reveals that he is housing the soul of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and various Hollywood celebrities who are members of the church flock to his home to help convince him to become their new leader.
One of those celebrities included Tom Cruise, who locks himself in a closet, which was a clear allusion to various rumors about his sexuality. John Travolta, another member of the church, soon joined him in the closet. Stan’s friends tell him that the religion is actually a cult, pointing out that Hubbard was a science fiction writer, though he at first refuses to believe it. Eventually, the Scientology elders reveal that the church is a for-profit con, calling their own religion “crap.”
Cruise was so incensed by the episode that he allegedly threatened to not participate in promotion for “Mission: Impossible III” junket if a re-run of the episode was aired; Viacom owns both Comedy Central and Paramount, the studio that put out the film. Cruise’s reps denied this, though the episode was indeed pulled. Stone and Parker, for their part, put out a satirical statement on the matter:
“Trey Parker and Matt Stone, servants of the dark lord Xenu.”
- “So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!”
Rathbun teased more documents, which reveal major advances in their investigations, would come soon. He was arrested in September, allegedly at the behest of the Church of Scientology, though charges were later dropped; the Voice reported then that the Church of Scientology was harassing him, in part because he practices the faith outside of the official Church.
“South Park” satirizes religion in just about every episode (click here for a slide show of ten of their most memorable). The show has cast Satan as the cowardly lover of Saddam Hussein, while Kyle, another of the four core children, comes from a very stereotypical Jewish family. Parker and Stone also created the Broadway show, “Book of Mormon,” which pokes fun at that religion.
For more, click over to the Village Voice; to watch the “Trapped In The Closet” episode, click here.
MTV Airs Uncritical “Ex-Gay” Program
Unless I missed some disclaimer at the top of the show, last night’s “ex-gay” episode of MTV’s Real Life was completely uncritical of the abuses, torture, and brainwashing inherent in “reparative therapy.” Weigh in if you saw the show, please. I’m looking for clips.
Cult Leader Kills Woman & 4-Year-Old “Gay” Boy In North Carolina
Channel 6 News reports:
A North Carolina religious leader killed a 4-year-old boy because he showed he thought he was gay and another 28-year-old woman, prosecutors said Friday.
Peter Lucas Moses, 27, of Durham, North Carolina and leader of a religious cult group, shot and killed Jadon Higganbothan, 4, because he believed he was homosexual, and Antoinetta Yvonne McKoy, 28, because she was unable to have children and was looking to exit the group, WRAL reported.
Moses’ group consisted of five women and nine children, according to an unnamed woman who spoke with police in February. Besides McKoy, Higganbothan, and the woman, the three other women included the 4-year-old’s mother Vania Rae Sisk, 25, Lavada Quinzetta Harris, 40, and Larhonda Renee Smith, also 40. Moses fathered all of the children, with the exception of Higganbothan.
The women were considered Moses’ wives or “common-law wives,” Durham County District Attorney Tracey Cline explained, adding that the women would periodically occupy the master suite with him.
According to prosecutors, Moses believed Higganbothan was gay because his father had abandoned Sisk, his mother. In addition, he had hit one of the other children’s bottom sometime in October 2010, triggering Moses’ to walk around angrily throughout the house with a gun in his hand.
Moses had previously told Sisk to “get rid of” Higganbothan, and during the incident, he ordered two of the women to set up loud speakers in the garage where the Lord’s Prayer was played in Hebrew at a high volume. After taking Higganbothan into the garage and shutting the door, a gun shot was heard.
The unnamed witness said the group of women then helped clean up Higganbothan body, who was shot in the head. The body was placed in a suit case, which was later removed from the house because it started to smell.
In late December 2010, McKoy escaped the home and asked to use the neighbor’s cell phone to call her mother in Washington, D.C., but Moses physically dragged her back to the home, as the other women stepped outside as well to witness the struggle. According to the witness, neighbors believed McKoy was mentally ill and living at a group home so they did not call the police.
During the rest of the day, Moses beat McKoy, and each of the women joined in at least once, trying to choke her to death with a telephone cord. As McKoy begged for her life, she was dragged into the bathroom where loud speakers again played the Lord’s Prayer in Hebrew. Moses took the same gun used to kill Higganbothan and fatally shot McKoy several times.
Both bodies were later found buried in the house’s backyard in June, and police found several .22-caliber shell casings, a projectile, and blood in the garage and master bedroom. The .22-caliber weapon was later found on the roof of a Colorado townhouse where the group had moved in February.
Moses faces first-degree murder charges, and prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty against him.
Sisk, Lavada Harris and Smith face first-degree murder charges in McKoy’s death and as accessories in Jadon’s death. Police said two of the women are pregnant.
KKK Versus Westboro at Memorial Day Protest
The Advocate reports:
A group of demonstrators affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan staged a counterprotest Monday against members of the antigay Westboro Baptist Church at Arlington National Cemetery.
Several people protested against Westboro, known for its antigay messages scrawled on large signs at the funerals of fallen troops and people with AIDS. Among them were 10 members of a group claiming to be a branch of the Ku Klux Klan, known as the Knights of the Southern Cross in Virginia.
Dennis LaBonte, the “imperial wizard” of the KKK offshoot, told CNN, “It’s the soldier that fought and died and gave them that right to free speech.”
Abigail Phelps countered that members of the KKK “have no moral authority on anything.” She added, “People like them say it’s white power … white supremacy. The Bible doesn’t say anywhere that it’s an abomination to be born of a certain gender or race.”
When even among hate groups there’s feud, you ought to know that there’s something fucked up.
Senators Introduce Bill to Quiet Funeral Protests
The Advocate reports:
A new bill introduced by a bipartisan group of U.S. senators seeks to limit protests outside the funerals of military members, a practice associated with the antigay Westboro Baptist Church.
The Topeka, Kan.–based church is known for sending members to protest the funerals of service members killed in action, where WBC claims the deaths represent divine punishment for the country’s tolerance of homosexuality. The Supreme Court recently ruled that the controversial protests are protected by the First Amendment.
According to The Huffington Post, “Drawn up by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), the Sanctity of Eternal Rest for Veterans Act — or SERVE Act — would mandate two hours of quiet time before and after funerals, and set a 300-foot buffer zone around the funerals and a 500-foot buffer around routes to and from the memorials.
“It sets fines ranging from $25,000 to $50,000, and jail sentences of up to two years.”
Snowe, joined by a dozen senators in the effort, said, “Those who fight and die in the service of our country deserve our highest respect. Their families have earned the right to bury their loved ones in peace.”
I’m afraid that such measure is indeed a transgression of the Cult’s right to Freedom of Speech. Hope it advances, thou.
Jury: Feel Free to Spit on Shirley Phelps
The Advocate reports:
A West Virginia man was acquitted of battery charges after he spit tobacco juice on Shirley Phelps-Roper of the antigay Phelps clan.
The event happened last year in Charleston when the Phelps family was picketing in support of men killed in a West Virginia mining disaster by holding up signs reading, “Thank God for Dead Miners.” The family believes the men deserved to die because of America’s acceptance of homosexuality.
Billy Spade admits to spitting on Phelps-Roper’s sign, though she claimed he spit on her chest. The jury, ruling in less than an hour, said Spade committed no crime, considering the highly-charged events of the day.
Read more here.
Well, this is so far the “feel-good” story of the day.