Schoolchildren in Louisiana are to be taught that the Loch Ness monster is real in a bid by religious educators to disprove Darwin’s theory of evolution.
These private schools follow a fundamentalist curriculum including the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) programme to teach controversial religious beliefs aimed at disproving evolution and proving creationism.
One tenet has it that if it can be proved that dinosaurs walked the earth at the same time as man then Darwinism is fatally flawed.
The textbooks in the series are alleged to teach young earth creationism; are hostile towards other religions and other sectors of Christianity, including Roman Catholicism; and present a biased version of history that is often factually incorrect.
One ACE textbook – Biology 1099, Accelerated Christian Education Inc – reads: “Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland? ‘Nessie’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.”
Another claim taught is that a Japanese whaling boat once caught a dinosaur. It’s unclear if the movie Godzilla was the inspiration for this lesson.
Well, If you believe in the existence of one mythical being, why not believe in them all?
Perhaps one day the popular BBC kids show The Family Ness will be revered as gospels:
Thank God for Satan, as more than 60 Catholic clergy (66 perhaps?) gather in Rome for a 6-day (another 6!) conference on “Exorcism”, this week, at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University, Rome. The event will examine how the web has made it easier than before to access information on Devil-worship and the occult, reports the Daily Telegraph:
“The internet makes it much easier than in the past to find information about Satanism,” said Carlo Climati, a member of the university who specialises in the dangers posed to young people by Satanism.
“In just a few minutes you can contact Satanist groups and research occultism. The conference is not about how to become an exorcist. It’s to share information about exorcism, Satanism and sects. It’s to give help to families and priests. There is a particular risk for young people who are in difficulties or who are emotionally fragile,” said Mr Climati.
Organizers of the event say the rise of Satanism has been dangerously underestimated in recent years.
“There’s been a revival,” said Gabriele Nanni, a former exorcist and another speaker at the course.
Over the course of 6-days, the exorcists will scrutinise the phenomenon of Satanism with “seriousness and scientific rigour”, avoiding a “superficial or sensational approach.”
In theory, any priest can perform an exorcism – a rite involving prayers to drive the Devil out of the person said to be possessed.
But Vatican officials said three years ago that parish priests should call in professional exorcists if they suspect one of their parishioners needs purging of evil. An exorcist should be called when “the moral certainty has been reached that the person is possessed”, said Father Nanni, a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints. That could be indicated by radical and disturbing changes in the person’s behaviour and voice, or an ability to garble in foreign languages or nonsensical gibberish.
While the number of genuine cases of possession by the Devil remained relatively small, “we must be on guard because occult and Satanist practices are spreading a great deal, in part with the help of the internet and new technologies that make it easier to access these rituals,” he said.
The Vatican’s chief exorcist claimed last year that the Devil lurked in the Vatican, the very heart of the Catholic Church.
Father Gabriele Amorth said people who are possessed by Satan vomit shards of glass and pieces of iron, scream, dribble and slobber, utter blasphemies and have to be physically restrained.
He claimed that the sex abuse scandals which have engulfed the Church in the US, Ireland, Germany and other countries, were proof that the anti-Christ was waging a war against the Holy See. He said Pope Benedict XVI believed “wholeheartedly” in the practice of exorcism.
The church’s International Association of Exorcists was set up in 1993, and meet in secret every 2 years, with the aim “of increasing the number of official exorcists worldwide.”
Since 2005, Catholic priests can sign up to learn how to cast away evil spirits from the possessed at the Vatican-backed college, the Athenaeum Pontificium Regina Apostolorum in Rome.
It runs a two-month course to teach the “spiritual, liturgical and pastoral work involved in being an exorcist.”
According to Father Giulio Savoldi, Milan’s official exorcist, requirements include “the supernatural force – the presence of God – and then suggest that the man picked to do this kind of work be wise and that he should know how to gather strength not just from within himself but from God.” The Roman Catholic’s new Exorcism RiteThe Roman Catholic’s new Exorcism Rite, which was updated in 1999 for the first time since 1614, stresses the importance of distinguishing who is really in need of an exorcism.
Father Savoldi said: “Those studying to become exorcists should also study psychology and know how to distinguish between a mental illness and a possession. And, finally, they need to be very patient.” He said the priest who undertakes the office should be himself a holy man, of a blameless life, intelligent, courageous, humble. He should avoid in the course of the rite anything resembling superstition and he should leave the medical aspects of the case to qualified physicians.
If that doesn’t turn your head, then you may enjoy Mark Kermode’s fascinating BBC documentary, Fear of God: The Making of ‘The Exorcist’, which examines the story of classic 1973 horror movie, with cast and crew, and discusses the true events inspired William Peter Blatty’s original novel.
According to conservative Rabbi Dov Lior, not every sperm is sacred. Indeed, he believes that some sperm is racially superior to others and claims, “Gentile sperm leads to barbaric offspring.” Really? I wonder if Rabbi Dov Lior took part in a tasting test would he know the difference?
The Rabbi says, in a news article on ynetnews.com, that Jewish Law prohibits sterile couples from conceiving using non-Jew’s sperm, as it causes adverse traits. While on the subject of single mothers he states their children, “cannot be 100% normal.”
Rabbi Dov Lior, a senior authority on Jewish law in the Religious Zionism movement, asserted recently that a Jewish woman should never get pregnant using sperm donated by a non-Jewish man – even if it is the last option available.
According to Lior, a baby born through such an insemination will have the “negative genetic traits that characterize non-Jews.” Instead, he advised sterile couples to adopt.
After years of loneliness and failed dates, as yearning for child becomes intolerable, increasing number of national-religious women decide to take their fate in their hands, start family as single mothers while maintaining religious way of life. New phenomenon already dividing sector, irking rabbis.
Lior addressed the issue during a women’s health conference held recently at the Puah Institute, a fertility clinic. His conservative stance negated a ruling widely accepted by rabbis, which states that sperm donated by a non-Jew is preferable to that of an anonymous Jew, who might pose a genealogical risk.
“Sefer HaChinuch (a book of Jewish law) states that the character traits of the father pass on to the son,” he said in the lecture. “If the father in not Jewish, what character traits could he have? Traits of cruelty, of barbarism! These are not traits that characterize the people of Israel.”
Lior added identified Jews as merciful, shy and charitable – qualities that he claimed could be inherited. “A person born to Jewish parents, even if they weren’t raised on the Torah – there are things that are passed on (to him) in the blood, it’s genetic,” he explained. “If the father is a gentile, then the child is deprived of these things.
“I even read in books that sometimes the crime, the difficult traits, the bitterness – a child that comes from these traits, it’s no surprise that he won’t have the qualities that characterize the people of Israel,” he added.
Lior condemned artificial insemination and sperm donation in general, saying that they lead to waste of sperm, unclear genealogy and other Jewish law offenses. He warned against undergoing intrauterine insemination at hospitals, where the workers may mix sperm samples for one reason or another - a major halachic violation.
On the subject of women who freeze their eggs to use at a later date, the rabbi asserted that instead they should concentrate their efforts on getting married younger.
“Our public has been influenced by a part of the Western culture in which every woman, instead of becoming a mother, needs to get a Masters Degree,” he lamented. “The role of women – child rearing – is not less important than an academic degree.” Lior noted that there is nothing wrong with attaining a profession, but it should not be a priority.
Moreover, the rabbi spoke against single women getting pregnant.
“We can understand the desire of every woman to have a child, but according to our Torah it is impossible to address the demand of a certain woman when it can cause someone else suffering,” he said.
“If a child is born without a father, he cannot be 100% normal.” He stated that rabbinical literature defines these kids as “criminals and subjects of other negative phenomena.”
This rabbi’s comments are wrong and deeply offensive. His words once again confirm that all Religious belief is a form of mental illness; a destructive social ill fueled by bigotry, hatred, misogyny, homophobia and racism; and its capacity to devalue human life, to undermine the individual and to destroy the community is truly terrifying.
What with the acclaimed release of Brad Gooch’s long-in-the-works biography, and Criterion’s recent reissuing of John Huston’s WIse Blood, I’m guessing Flannery O’Connor‘s receiving more NPR airplay this summer than the latest Moby offering. Last week, I spent some time with the Criterion disc, and let me tell you, despite the usual “mentat intensity” from Dourif, Wise Blood has NOT aged well. So, when you’re hankering for some Southern-fried gothic but don’t have the time—or patience—for a full-length feature, you might wanna check out Black Hearts Bleed Red, Jeri Cain Rossi’s 1992 film adaption of O’Connor’s “A Good Man Is Hard To Find.” It’s satisfyingly austere, lacks Wise Blood’s grating soundtrack, and hey, who’s that misfit with a rifle? Why, it’s Joe Coleman!