Bill Shorten does ACL – new video*


The Australian reports…

“Bill Shorten has told the Australian Christian Lobby he is a Christian who believes in marriage equality.

“I believe in God and I believe in marriage equality,” the Opposition Leader told the ACL national conference in Canberra.

“I’m a Christian and a supporter of marriage equality under the law.”

Religion should never be used as an instrument of division or exclusion, he said.

“I believe our current law does exclude some individuals [..]  it says to them that your relationship is not equally valued by the state, that your love is less equal under the law.

“We currently have a law that discriminates against adult couples on the basis of who they love.” Mr Shorten read from the scriptures and said he couldn’t remain silent about those who said marriage equality was the first step on the road to polygamy and bigamy and bestiality.

The ACL has campaigned strongly to prevent the passing of marriage equality laws.

Mr Shorten is the keynote speaker at the ACL national conference, resisting calls not to appear.

He said in his speech that he knew some of his policy ideas wouldn’t win acceptance among members, but discrimination couldn’t not be justified by faith.

Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm is working on a new bill to allow same-sex marriage, but won’t introduce it until he’s reasonably confident the numbers are there to pass it.

The Liberal Party is yet to decide whether to allow a conscience vote on the matter, but Labor MPs have a free vote.

Other speakers at the conference include Liberal frontbencher Michaelia Cash, Labor frontbencher Shayne Neumann and lawyer Roger Kiska from the conservative Christian non-profit body Alliance Defending Freedom.”



116 killed in TB Joshua church building collapse – updated*


Independent Online reports…

“A pathologist on Tuesday ruled out claims of an explosion as the cause of a fatal building collapse at the church of a popular Nigerian preacher, saying none of the victims had blast injuries.

“Bodies were mutilated, severe crush, head injuries, fractured bones, fractured ribs,” Lagos state chief medical examiner Professor John Obafunwa told a coroner’s inquest in the city.

“We had some badly dismembered bodies. But I would not say it was because of explosion. No fire.”

Evangelical preacher and televangelist TB Joshua has claimed that sabotage, possibly from a low-flying aircraft, was to blame for the building collapse at his Synagogue Church of All Nations.

But building inspectors have said the likely cause of the September 12 tragedy was the addition of extra floors on the guesthouse without strengthening the foundations.

The inquest heard that 116 people died in total, 84 of them South Africans, revising the death toll upwards by one.

Obafunwa told the court that the bodies were in an advanced state of decomposition before they could be removed from the debris of the stricken guesthouse.

“In a tropical environment, decomposition could set in within 12 hours. From autopsy we have reason to suggest traumatic factor as the cause of death and this is as a result of crush,” he added.

The pathologist’s evidence comes after a Lagos State firefighter told the hearing last Friday that there was no evidence of an explosion at the site.

The southwest coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Ibrahim Farinloye, also said there was no indication of the use of explosives.

Joshua, a self-styled miracle worker and seer who counts presidents among his followers who call him “The Prophet” or “The Man of God”, has been summoned to give evidence.

Meanwhile, the court heard that identification of the bodies, some of which took a week to extract from the rubble, is still not complete.

Obafunwa said DNA samples were taken to help identify the victims and his final report should be ready by the second week of November.

Anthony Van Der Byl, a South African who lost his wife in the collapse, said he was distressed at the time being taken to identify the bodies.

“It’s painful for me and my family to wait for more than one and half months without the body of my wife. I can’t take it anymore,” he told the hearing.

Pretoria’s top diplomat in Nigeria, Lulu Mnguni, who attended the hearing said he hoped that cross-checking of DNA samples sent from South Africa would be finished soon.

The inquest was adjourned until Wednesday.


Johnny Lee Clary dead



Canoe reports…

“There’s a much better chance that you saw Johnny Lee Clary, the Ku Klux Klan member turned evangelist, on one of the many wildly entertaining talk shows, like Jerry Springer, or on religious programming, than you did during his brief career as 1980s professional wrestler Johnny Angel.

With his death on October 21, his long-time friend Don “D.C.” Drake said that the versions of Clary were all one in the same.

“The character you saw there was his wrestling character,” said Drake. Instead of riling up the fans, inciting hatred, “he stirred them up the other way” when he was a preacher.

Clary died at his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, of a heart attack.

He was a well-known figure from his numerous radio, TV magazine and newspapers appearances, including Fox and Friends, Fox News, Oprah, The 700 Club, Queen Latifah, Phil Donahue, Charisma Magazine, Guidepost, and Christianity Today.

But before that, he was a professional wrestler.

According to his website, Clary said that he and his brother, Terry, were trained by Danny Hodge in Oklahoma in 1983. Contacted on Thursday, Hodge didn’t specifically remember the Clarys, but said that he trained “quite a few” people over the years. “If I seen somebody that needed some help, I would try,” said Hodge.

“Terry began his career as the ‘Sugar Boy,’ while Johnny broke in as his manager, Der Kommissar, named after the hit ’80s new wave song, by ‘After The Fire,'” reads the website. Later, Johnny Clary bleached his hair blond and became Johnny Angel.

While Clary did work a few smaller areas, such as Arkansas and Kansas City, in the waning days of the territorial system, it was in the National Wrestling Federation that he had his biggest run — and that was primarily as a manager.

Drake said Clary was originally hired to do publicity for a show in Kalispell, Montana on local TV and radio stations, as Clary owned a ring, and trucked it in from his home in Oklahoma.

“He really stirred that place up,” said Drake. “It was over 5,000 people, I believe.”

Portraying a madman, Drake had Johnny Angel as his manager for part of his run in the NWF — a far cry from the man Drake actually is, quiet and thoughtful, and behind-the-scenes he was the producer of the NWF TV show.

“He was a great character. He got major heat with the crowd,” said Drake. “He was just an antagonizer. There was something about Johnny that made people hate him. I can’t explain it. Johnny had a way about himself that he was able to antagonize people.”

In-ring, Clary wasn’t as talented. “His wrestling skills weren’t that great, but his ability as a manager and as a publicist was excellent.”

During an interview in December 2012, Clary shared a story from that big show in Kalispell.

“We had all the babys and the heels in the dressing room. There was nowhere else to be. It was at the fairgrounds that day … We were all joking and cutting up. I remember Sgt. Slaughter came in there and Sergeant was mad because I was working a gig against Slaughter, I was the heel and of course Slaughter was the baby. Slaughter goes, ‘This time I’m leaving.’ I said, ‘C’mon Bob? You don’t want to stay?’ He said, ‘No, no, if you guys don’t start kayfabing we ain’t gonna have no business left.’ I remember I said to Don, ‘Don, he’s ticked off.’ Don said, ‘Oh, well, he’s a star, he’s got that star syndrome. We’ve got to lighten up and have fun here. That’s what it’s all about.'”

With the NWF’s implosion, despite its presence on SportsChannel — in-fighting amongst the partners scuttled a potentially big deal that would have propelled the promotion into the 1980s wrestling mainstream — Clary stopped wrestling by 1988.

He had a new calling. The Ku Klux Klan saw the fiery Clary as a great spokesman for its racist beliefs. A KKK member since the age of 14, Clary rose through the organization, from being a bodyguard to David Duke to Imperial Wizard of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

Like Drake, Bobby Fulton of the Fantastics first met Clary via a ring rental in Oklahoma. In this case, the show was in Ponca City. “When I got there, there was this guy, and he was wearing a calvary unit’s rebel hat” from the Civil War, said Fulton. “I don’t even know why I asked him. I said, ‘Why are you wearing that?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’ It was Johnny Lee Clary. Three days later, I’m watching Oprah Winfrey — and guess who’s on Oprah Winfrey! Johnny Lee Clary, and he was the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and I didn’t know it!”

“I never knew he was part of the KKK. I had no idea until after the fact. One day I was home and I saw him on, I think it was Morton Downey Jr. Show. I was shocked,” said Drake. “The character you saw there was his wrestling character. Now, what was interesting about it is my wife was African-American and he never acted any differently.”

In 2012, Clary could only chuckle his past. “[Drake] used to get the biggest kick, because with my background, he said, ‘I never knew, because you never told me that you were a racist at that time,'” said Clary. “I didn’t talk that stuff when I was in the business.”

On his website, Clary addressed his defection from the KKK to becoming a Christian evangelist: “Johnny began to struggle with the beliefs of the Klan, such as their praise of the Holocaust where 6 million Jewish people were slaughtered, and the fact that Nazis and Skinheads were now associating with the KKK committing crimes which included all sorts of Civil Rights violations including murder, which Johnny disagreed with. Riddled with torment, angered over a false arrest in Tennessee on a weapons charge, disgusted with internal bickering between the various white supremacist organizations, being totally harassed by the F.B.I. as well as the United States Secret Service, seeing people close to him being hauled off to prison, and the discovery that his girlfriend was an informant for the FBI, Johnny Lee left the Klan.”

Clary turned to the Bible and began preaching.

About two decades after first meeting Clary, Fulton remembers being in the car listening to talk radio in North Carolina, and he heard his name. “It’s Johnny Lee Clary, and now he’s a preacher and he talked about how he changed his life, asked God to forgive him about the Ku Klux Klan, and how a lot of people were after him and wanted to kill him because he walked away from that lifestyle to go to the Christian lifestyle. I couldn’t believe it.”

Clary’s fascinating story was an easy sell to Christian programming and the speaking circuit.

On a much smaller scale, Drake brought in his old friend to New Jersey in 2004, to address the addiction clinic where he worked.

“He had me speak about all the addictions that I had, racism and hatred and drinking and all that kind of stuff, and tell my story,” recalled Clary.

To Fulton, Clary’s epic journey recalled the book turned movie, Little Big Man, where the protagonist, Jack Crabb, who is 121 years old, recounts his colorful life story to a historian.

“I always thought it was like that movie, Little Big Man, because Dustin Hoffman, he’d run into a guy and he’s one way, and all of a sudden it’s 20 years later, and he was another way. That’s the way I thought of Johnny Lee Clary.”



Priests fear church is sending them to their deaths


The Wall Street Journal reports…

“The head of Iraq’s Catholic church has suspended nine American priests for leaving their posts in Iraq and is demanding they return to the battle-torn country, according to officials with the San Diego diocese that employs the priests.

The order to return from Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako last month comes as the Iraqi Catholic community, known as Chaldeans, faces an existential crisis in Iraq.

Tens of thousands of Christians have fled the country in the last decade and thousands more are being pushed out by Islamic militants. The Islamic State, or ISIL, has been murdering and persecuting minorities as it gains power in the region.

Priests can’t decide “where to serve, how to serve and those who to serve,” Patriarch Sako wrote in a Sept. 23 statement to Fides News Agency, the Vatican’s official missionary news agency. The patriarch said the priests didn’t have permission to leave their positions in Iraq. “We have to live and die in the place where God calls us,” the statement said.

The patriarch “recalls all the Chaldean priests…who left Iraq and moved to the Chaldean diaspora communities around the world, to return to their country and put themselves at the service of those who are most in need,” the statement said. The patriarch warned then that if the priests didn’t return to Iraq by Oct. 22, they would be disciplined.

The Chaldean patriarch and other Chaldean advocates have expressed fear that the region is being cleared of Christians, and will lose its ancient Christian heritage if more continue to flee.

But officials with the Chaldean diocese in San Diego have been actively working to help Christians escape Iraq and resettle in the U.S. or other countries, arguing the Chaldean community can’t survive at home.

The nine priests suspended for failing to return to Iraq are all part of the Chaldean Catholic Diocese of St. Peter the Apostle based in San Diego County, which has 14 priests that serve around 140,000 Chaldeans in the western U.S., diocese officials said.

“I can’t lose my job. I’m a priest forever,” said Father Noel Gorgis, a 49-year-old priest who said he came to the U.S. two decades ago to escape continued service in Saddam Hussein ’s army. Father Gorgis, who served as a monk in Baghdad, said he received permission to leave from his monastery.

Father Gorgis, who performs prayer services twice a day at St. Peter’s Cathedral in San Diego, continues to work while his suspension is being appealed, he said. Learning of the suspension “was the hardest thing for a priest to imagine.”

He said he and other suspended priests won’t go back to Iraq. “I’m an American,” Father Gorgis said.

Father Gorgis and other diocese officials said they believe the patriarch is punishing the diocese for lobbying the U.S. government to more quickly get Chaldeans out of Iraq and refugee camps in the region.

Removing those priests would severely hamper the diocese’s ability to serve its growing population, officials there said. The diocese is appealing the suspensions directly to the pope. A spokesperson for the Vatican wasn’t immediately available for comment Friday.

“This is just revenge for helping people get out of Iraq,” said Mark Arabo, a Chaldean-American activist and spokesman for the diocese. Mr. Arabo and the San Diego Chaldean bishop, Sarhad Jammo, have been gathering names of tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians who are trying to flee Iraq, and pressing U.S. officials in Congress and in the White House to allow more Iraqi minorities into the U.S.

“To say you have to come back and face death by the sword from ISIS or you are fired or suspended is inhumane,” Mr. Arabo said. “We won’t let these priests go back like sacrificial lambs.”

A representative for Patriarch Sako couldn’t be reached for comment.”


Royal Commission delivers findings on Grafton Anglican diocese

Pic:Northern Star


The ABC reports…

“The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has found the Anglican Diocese of Grafton treated victims insensitively and conducted settlement negotiations in a hostile manner.

The commission’s public hearing was told about frequent sexual, psychological and physical abuse of nine former residents of the North Coast Children’s Home in Lismore between 1940 and 1985.

Handing down its findings, the commission found the diocese denied responsibility for the sexual abuse, denied some victims financial compensation and conducted some settlement negotiations in a hostile manner.

It also found the diocese was not following its own policies in handling the matter and that denying legal liability on the grounds it did not control the home had a detrimental effect on abused former residents.

The Right Reverend Keith Slater resigned as bishop of the diocese in May last year admitting that legal liability played a role in his decision not to pass on all complaints to the church’s professional standards director.

The commission has today recommended that diocese regularly reviews the operation of its professional standards processes to ensure the professional standards director and professional standards committee are appraised of all outstanding claims of sexual abuse.

Witness Tommy Campion was among those to share his story during the public hearing.

He alleged he was sexually abused as a child between 1949 and 1962.

He told the commission that he was invited to a minister’s residence for crumpets and honey only to be taken into a spare room and allegedly sexually abused by Reverend Campbell Brown.

Reverend Brown has never been charged with child sexual offences but the commission recommended that the diocese determines whether to initiate disciplinary proceedings against him.

Another witness revealed abuse at the hands of Reverend Allan Kitchingman who was convicted for indecent assault in 1968 and 2002.

The commission found the dioceses of Grafton and Newcastle could both have taken action in response to the professional standards matters concerning Reverend Kitchingman including his discipline, but there was no clear system in place to determine which diocese would assume responsibility.

The ABC is waiting for a response from the diocese and victims.”


Hill$ong elder sells out of Gloria Jean’s



The Age reports…

“A takeaway and cafe giant is buying Gloria Jean’s Coffees for $163.5 million from a man who brought the franchise to Australia.

Retail Food Group, which owns Michel’s Patisserie and Donut King, will soon control the 35-year-old cafe group which operates 800 outlets in more than 40 countries.

They are buying the global franchising and coffee roasting business from Gloria Jean’s executive chairman Nabi Saleh’s private company.

In 1996, Mr Saleh and Peter Irvine brought the franchise to Australia, opening an outlet in the Sydney suburb of Miranda.

Mr Saleh, who is also a board member of the Hillsong Pentecostal church, is staying with the business for at least another two years, along with his senior management team.

He said Retail Food Group’s reputation as a food and beverage operator and expertise in building franchise businesses made them ideal to lead the continued expansion of Gloria Jean’s.

Retail Food Group has bought Gloria Jeans from Tea and Coffee Traders Pty Ltd, which Mr Saleh founded in the mid-1980s, along with several other similar companies in Sydney’s Castle Hill.

Gloria Jean’s has 358 stores in Australia, 87 in the United States and franchises in 40 other countries.

The deal comes four months after the Singapore-based Global Yellow Pages pulled out of a deal to buy the whole group.

Retail Food Group, which runs Cafe2U and The Coffee Guy, said the global coffee chain had long been a target.

The Gold Coast company, founded in 1989, will pay $153.5 million in cash plus $10 million in its own shares, plus up to a further $16.4 million depending on Gloria Jean’s performance.

It will raise $55 million to help fund its purchase through the issue of new shares to institutional and sophisticated shareholders.

The company has also increased its senior debt facility with National Australia Bank, from $135 million to $253 million.

Its purchase of Gloria Jeans is expected to be settled by December.

It is also buying privately-owned gourmet coffee maker Cafe Palazzo.

RFG shares traded at $4.86 ahead of the announcement.


* Donut King

* Michel’s Patisserie

* Brumby’s Bakery

* Esquires Coffee

* Crust Gourmet Pizza Bar

* Pizza Capers


* 1979, founded in Chicago suburb of Long Grove

* 1996, first Australian outlet opened

* 2004, Australian arm acquires global franchise rights outside US

* 2009, all franchising rights and intellectual property held in Australia”


Former pastor charged with wife’s murder


WBRC reports…

“A former Homewood pastor, Richard Shahan, has been indicted in the murder of his wife, Karen.

Richard Shahan, 53, is accused of killing his wife Karen Shahan in their Homewood home in July 2013.

Shahan was arrested for his wife’s murder in early January as he was trying to board a plane in Nashville to leave the country.

Prosecutors said that they believe Shahan wanted to escape the country to start a new life and marry his boyfriend. They say when he was arrested at the Nashville International Airport before boarding a flight to Germany on Jan. 1, he was carrying $27,000 in various currencies, including Euros, pounds and Kazakh money.

Prosecutors said they’ve obtained 3,000 of Shahan’s emails, including messages that indicate Shahan planned to go to Russia and eventually become a citizen in the U.K.

Shahan has bonded out of jail and is under house arrest.