The ugly Christian parent


The Huffington Post reports…


A disturbing film of a gay man being confronted by his “Christian” family, which was posted to YouTube on Thursday, has sparked a raft of homophobic abuse on the video sharing website.

The post, which has gained more than [5] million views and 20,000 comments, shows a surreptitious phone recording by 20-year-old Daniel Ashley Pierce from Georgia, detailing what appears to be a family intervention by the man’s father, his stepmother and his grandparents.

Pierce told his family he was gay in October, but the confrontation happened on Wednesday, with the video showing the family asserting that the man’s sexuality is a choice. The family’s views are revealed to be based on scripture, while Pierce responds by telling them that science says otherwise.

“No, you can believe that if you want to,” says the grandmother, “but I believe in the word of God, and God creates nobody that way. It’s a path that you have chosen to choose… You go by all the scientific stuff you want to. I’m going by the word of God.”

The woman then tells him that as it’s his choice, he needs to move out as she won’t have “people believe that I condone what you do”.

Then the stepmother chimes in: “You’re full of s**t… You told me on the phone that you made that choice. You know you wasn’t born that way. You know damn good and well you made that choice. You know that [your father] has done everything he can to raise you. He didn’t need to blame himself.”

The dénouement features a man shouting, “You’re a damn queer”, during which a fight appears to break out.

Within the YouTube comments section, there is support for Pierce with one poster writing, “This makes me sick and breaks me heart. These f***ing assholes who call themselves parents. How twisted to you have to be to disown your child just because he or she is gay.”

Another added: “LOL at all of the ignorant, moronic religious people who have commented on this video. I can’t believe people actually still believe in God in 2014.”

However, some backed the family: “I support the parents on this one. Being gay or lesbian IS a decision and doesn’t have to do ANYTHING with genes, biology or any other bullshit this kid is trying to push into his parents face.”

While other were just abusive: “Did you develop that flamboyant f***ing voice overnight? You CHOSE to talk like a fruit cup”

Another read: “Arrogant little faggot punk”.

A third said: “The parents should take pride in know[ing] that this ugly little girl will do absolutely nothing to benefit this world and the little fairy will just flutter through life.”



Family feud


The Guardian reports…

“During the course of any heated debate, one side will inevitably compare their opponents to Nazis. Under the popular maxim Godwin’s law, doing so automatically means you lose the argument. At the World Congress for Families, the Christian gathering held over the weekend, it took only 45 minutes before former Victorian MP David Perrin compared Holland’s euthanasia laws to Auschwitz.

Welcome to the world of Australia’s conservative Christians, where abortion causes breast cancer and bushfires, and 90% of poverty can be solved by affirming marriage between a man and a woman.

I was sitting in a stuffy hall in the leafy solitude of Hallam, a suburb in Melbourne’s southeast, squeezing an aborted foetus stress toy. I’d picked it up in the lobby from a pro-life political party before heading inside to listen to a talk on the importance of fathers, by Alison and Warwick Marsh, the founders of the Fatherhood Foundation.

Did you know that 85% of children with behavioural problems come from fatherless homes? So do 80% of rapists with “anger problems”. And 63% of teens who commit suicide. The solution? A return to traditional (read: heterosexual, married and Christian) families. The statistics were never-ending: Larry Jacobs, the American poster-boy for the congress, went so far as to say that “90% of poverty can be solved, simply through the affirmation of marriage”.

There were cries of “hear hear!” as these stats were rolled out, and plenty of clapping and muttering about the various ways that the world was going to hell in a hand basket. As I squeezed my foetus and the stats washed over me, I took a look at the audience. Some of the older attendees had managed some very creative solutions to the problem of male pattern baldness.

The congress was held in the HQ of pastor Danny Nalliah’s Catch the Fire ministries, after pressure from protestors resulted in a number of venue changes. Nalliah’s religious views are so toxic (he infamously blamed bushfire disasters on Victoria’s abortion laws) that federal social services minister Kevin Andrews refused to attend.

The rest of the lineup was as you’d imagine: Christian politicians, and a mix of functionaries from “natural” family groups. The standout talk was from Dr Angela Lanfranchi, the quintessential American junk scientist from central casting. Her research on the causal link between abortion and breast cancer landed senator Eric Abetz in hot water a couple of weeks ago when he referenced it in a TV interview with Mia Freedman.

Her theories have been derided by a host of peak medical bodies, including Cancer Australia and the World Health Organisation – and that’s no surprise. At one point she cited the apparent drop in breast cancer rates in Romania during Nicolae Ceaușescu’s murderous reign from 1965-1989. The reason? Caeucescu outlawed abortion. You know you’re really scraping the barrel, when you’re using dictators to prove your scientific theories.

As the talks went on, I started to squeeze the foetus every time the speakers said the word family or abortion. My arm grew tired pretty quickly.

Outside, an air raid siren droned and the 50-odd protestors barricading the front of the complex chanted. Two were arrested for unruly behaviour. The crowd was causing a ruckus long before the event began; playing loud music, throwing glitter and lightly jostling the festival attendees being ushered into the compound by police.

I ventured out into the compound courtyard and was pleased to see the party had well and truly started. A gaggle of lycra-clad dancers boogied to Kylie Minogue and David Bowie, while waiting for the more intrepid family enthusiasts to come outside the compound, so they could call them bigots.

Eventually a bus of burlesque dancers arrived, to the visible relief of the amassed media. Mrs Barb Wire, an older man in a floral swimsuit and impeccable makeup, took advantage of the unseasonably balmy weather by setting up a banana lounge on the road in front of the conference.

“Don’t forget that this country is descended from criminals, poofters and whores,” he shouted, calling the cameras over. As the shutters whirred, he relaxed further into the lounge, rolled his eyes and said, “God, I need an abortion”.

The protestors’ eternal souls were in good hands. At the beginning of the conference a lone pro-choice activist stormed the stage and proceeded to spill fake blood all over her cream suit. As she was led away by the security guards, the speaker at the podium, Theresa Martin, the state president of pro-life group Cherish Life Queensland, asked the audience to “say a prayer for the type of forces that create things like that … they don’t become screaming banshees unless something terrible has happened to their souls”.

This kind of gleeful piety was everywhere: congress patron Joe Santamaria congratulated the attendees for their “courage and fortitude to be here today”, while anti-euthanasia extraordinaire Dr David van Gen lamented the fact that conservative pollies, including Andrews and Victorian attorney general Robert Clark, were hounded into not attending the congress by those pesky protestors.

No conservative Christian conference would be complete without some input from the right honourable Fred “homosexuality should be classed as a mental disorder” Nile. Among the usual gripes about freedom of speech and the tyranny of the anti-Christian movement (as well as some classic homophobic zingers like “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”) there was plenty of trademark Nile bile.

Between instructing the LGBT community on correct nomenclature (apparently they should have “homosexual pride” not “gay pride”) he said that Satan was working through the liberal media, the Greens, and the protestors outside. “I believe there is a devil and he’s responsible for those people out there,” Nile pronounced.

By five in the afternoon, the protestors and police had left and Larry Jacobs returned to the stage for a triumphal victory lap. He began with a rhetorical question: “Is the WCF hateful?”

Then went on to answer it himself. He reiterated his group’s desire for a return to the “traditional family”. He stated that they “do not believe that homosexuality is innate or genetic” and lamented its declassification as a mental disorder back in 1973. He held up the Putin government’s controversial anti-LGBT laws as a template for other Christian countries to adopt.

“If we’re hateful, there are a lot of hateful people in this room,” he said. I gave the foetus another hard squeeze and headed home.”


Mars Hill pastors revolt


The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports…

“A newly formed board of elders at Mars Hill Church, in a letter Friday, condemned news leaks, sought to reassure the flock and warned that public airing of internal “allegations and concerns” would be used by enemies of the faith.

The letter seemed to carry a triple message:  Keep the faith, keep quiet and we will take care of it.

“Pray that the watching non-Christian world would not be given the opportunity to discredit not only our church but the very gospel of Jesus: Pray that Jesus will be glorified through all of this,” said the letter, sent five days after Senior Pastor Mark Driscoll announced he was taking an “extended focus break.”

The letter follows Thursday’s leak of a critical letter signed by nine pastors at the Seattle-based mega-church.

The nine excoriated the church for “lack of transparency,” and “the transition of a high volume of people off staff.”  They urged that Driscoll remove himself not only from the pulpit but from any role in church administration until a “restoration plan” is worked out.

One of the nine has been fired from the Mars Hill Portland church.

The Friday official response, signed by 16 elders, repeats a frequent mantra that accusations against Driscoll and other seniors, ranging from abusive behavior to shunning to plagiarism, will be fully investigated.

“To address these allegations and concerns, a newly formed Board of Elders, made up of trusted lead pastors, has been appointed to examine these charges,” it said.  “These men have already met for many hours this week to begin this important process.”

Unfortunately, added the elders, “almost everything that goes on in private” at the church “is leaked publicly to online media.”

The principal recipient of leaks has been Warren Throckmorton, a redoubtable Pennsylvania psychology professor who writes for a believers’ audience at the serious, reflective Patheos website.

But the elders turned to St. Paul to condemn the airing of bad news.

“Your elders are deeply grieved over the manner in which this has happened,” they wrote.  “In particular, we are grieved because 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 gives us a very clear (and even stern) command that when we have grievances against one another, we are to work them out in such a way that non-believers are not invited into the discussion.

“This passage shows us that even in cases of serious wrong or disagreement, God wants us to exercise appropriate discretion.  We are terribly sorry because this is incredibly distracting and harmful to the cause of the gospel.”

The faithful at Mars Hill have been asked to take much on faith.

They raised $2 million over and above tithing in order to put on an August “Jesus Festival” at Marymoor Park.  It was touted by Driscoll as late as February, but then quietly scrubbed.

In a March mea culpa, Driscoll confessed to using church money to hire a consulting firm to create illusory sales of his book “Real Marriage” in order to get it on the New York Times bestseller list.

A key indication came Friday that Mars Hill is going to keep key decision-making in house.

Two prominent pastors recently quit as “outside” members of the church’s Board of Advisors and Accountability (BOAA).  One of them, author-professor Paul Tripp, was deeply involved in dealing with charges against Driscoll.

The Thursday letter, from the nine pastors, quoted Tripp as calling Mars Hill “the most abusive, coercive ministry culture I’ve ever been involved with.”  He was also quoted as questioning Mars Hill’s ability to recover while its current leadership team is in place.

On Friday, the 16 pastors criticized Tripp but did not deny the substance of his criticism or the Thursday letter from the nine.

“Paul Tripp’s comments to our elders were never made directly to the Board of Advisors and Accountability, as we have minutes of these meetings,” they told the Mars Hill flock.  “We are deeply disappointed that Paul did not bring these concerns to our full Board or to the Executive Elders directly.

“The concerns brought forth by these elders and the comments from Paul Tripp have been heard and are being taken seriously.  Their letter, as with past letters voicing accusations toward Pastor Mark, will be processed in accordance with out bylaws.”

The church filled two vacancies on the BOAA, both from within its ranks.

Pastor Mark Rogers, a volunteer pastor at Mars Hill-Bellevue, will join the oversight board and serve as chairman of the new Board of Elders.  The other vacancy on the BOAA has been filled by John Phelps, a businessman and longtime Mars Hill member.

The promise is that the new Board of Elders will provide increased accountability in areas of financial responsibility, staff and elder transitions, and “church culture.”

The Mars Hill sage has stirred the world of America’s evangelicals.

The seriousness of charges against Driscoll came to light in complaints lodged by former pastors and program leaders at the church, including a co-founder of Mars Hill.  Twenty-one former pastors lodged charges earlier this month.

The key blow came when the Acts29 Network, a nationwide group of “church planting” evangelicals, expelled Driscoll and Mars Hill.  The church’s 15 campuses were removed from its listing of more than 500 churches in the U.S. and abroad.

Seven directors of Acts29, which Driscoll co-founded, urged him to take leave of the ministry for a prolonged period and to seek help.

Driscoll has said his “extended focus break” will extend for six weeks and that he is meeting with a “professional team of sincerely Christians.”


Joel Osteen church arrest



KHOU reports…

“A man was taken into custody Thursday after going on an odd rampage inside the bookstore at Lakewood Church.

It happened at about 9:15 a.m. in the 3700 block of the Southwest Freeway.

Police said the 30-year-old suspect, Michael David Fletcher, 30, walked into the bookstore around 9:15 a.m. and began knocking some books off the shelves, throwing books and overturning display stands all while referring to Bible verse Matthew 21:12.

Matthew 21:12 (NIV) Jesus at the Temple Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.

Security personnel escorted the man out of the store, and when he attempted to get back inside they held him down for police, a Lakewood church spokesperson said.

No one was injured.

A felony charge of criminal mischief is pending against the suspect, police said.”


Kong Hee on trial – updated*

City Harvest Church video


Channel NewsAsia reports…

“Prosecutors have charged that the six City Harvest Church leaders accused of misusing church monies “intentionally deceived” the management board and its executive members. They alleged that this was done by deliberately concealing information about the bond transactions to disguise the fact that they channelled money from the church’s building fund.

The prosecution said the church board and its members were never told that the S$13 million in Xtron bonds were meant to finance the church’s Crossover Project. The project is the church’s way of evangelising through secular pop music, and is fronted by Kong’s wife Sun Ho. Xtron was Ms Ho’s artiste management firm at the time.

Kong said his team may not have shared the information about the bond proceeds being used to finance the Crossover Project because they did not see a need to. He said he would have if he knew of any “legal obligations” to do so, adding that “whether we share it or we didn’t share it, all financial transactions between City Harvest Church and Xtron must be legal and legitimate”.

The prosecution added that Kong and his deputies had also hidden from the church board and executive members the true purpose of a S$21.5 million amended bond subscription agreement, which the church entered into with Xtron in 2008. This was a way to buy Xtron more time to repay the bonds, and to cover up the fact that the original S$13 million had already been spent on the Crossover Project, the prosecution charged. 

Prosecutors said the church board and members were given the false impression that Xtron would use the entire bond proceeds from the amended agreement to buy a Riverwalk property that would then be leased to the church.

In reality, because the S$13 million had already been spent, Xtron only received a fresh injection of S$8.5 million from the church. That meant it had to take a loan for the remainder of the purchase price of the Riverwalk property.

The prosecution then pointed to an email from Mr Roland Wee – brother of the church’s former finance manager and accused Serina Wee – as evidence of how the church had been kept in the dark about this even up till 2010. Mr Wee had highlighted some concerns about Xtron’s financials, which Serina Wee then forwarded to her co-accused – deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng, and the church’s former investment manager Chew Eng Han – saying: “I couldn’t tell him that Xtron Productions had taken a bank loan for the Riverwalk purchase.”

The prosecution also turned to the church’s investment in bonds issued by Firna – a glassware company owned by Indonesian businessman and longtime church member Wahju Hanafi. It charged that the Firna bonds were – like the Xtron bonds – a sham to channel the church’s building fund monies to finance the Crossover Project, and that Mr Hanafi was simply acting as a “conduit”.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Christopher Ong charged that it was Kong and his team who controlled the drawdown of the bonds and how the proceeds would be used. Mr Ong pointed to the emails which he said reflected Kong’s frustration with the delay in his instructions regarding various payments being carried out. “Mr Hanafi had no control over the proceeds of the bonds, except for the parts that were allocated for his own use,” he charged.

Kong refuted this, saying the funds had been “earmarked” by Mr Hanafi under the Firna bonds, to be used for the Crossover Project: “Wahju had pledged them for the Crossover album production and that’s why we held him accountable to the commitment.” He added that the Firna bonds were not a sham and that its structure would never have been carried out without the sanction of lawyers and auditors.

The hearing will be resuming on Sep 8, when Kong will continue to be cross-examined. After that, his co-accused and the church’s finance manager Sharon Tan is expected to take the stand.”


Pastor shoots burglar in the head


WDSU reports…

“The pastor of an Algiers church who shot at two copper burglars, striking one of the burglars in the head, was arrested Thursday.

The pastor, 62-year-old William Littleton, was arrested on one count of aggravated battery by shooting.

The shooting happened about 5:10 p.m. Wednesday in the 1200 block of Vallette Street.

Detectives said the pastor shot at two burglars attempting to steal copper from the church’s air-conditioning system.

One of the alleged burglars, identified as 50-year-old Rodney Mitchell, suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was transported to the hospital, where he was listed in serious condition.

The other suspect, 34-year-old Joseph Cross, wasn’t injured in the shooting and was arrested on a theft charge.

According to the New Orleans Police Department, Littleton served as a New Orleans police officer from 1974 to 1983. 

The city’s Civil Service Commission reports Littleton resigned for “unspecified health reasons.”

Eyewitnesses told WDSU they heard at least eight shots.

“I actually saw the pastor shooting at the getaway vehicle,” said one witness who didn’t want to be identified.

When asked if he thought the shooting was justified, the witness said yes.

“If he didn’t do what he did, they would have just robbed someone else,” the man said.

During an unrelated news conference Thursday afternoon, Chief Michael Harrison addressed the shooting after there were numerous calls for the department to file charges against the pastor over concerns he went too far.

“All of those are facts that still come out in the investigation.  I think its premature to go into that, so because it is ongoing, I’ll leave that for the investigation to reveal,” said Harrison.

Harrison said the case will be presented to the District Attorney’s Office.”