Pastor accused of toddler murder


WDTN reports…

“A local pastor was indicted Friday on several counts including murder and reckless homicide by a Montgomery County grand jury.

The grand jury handed down an eight-count indictment against Torace D. Weaver Friday.

The Montgomery County Prosecutor’s Office tells 2 NEWS Weaver is a pastor at King of Glory Ministries on Genesee Avenue in Dayton.

Weaver is accused in the death of 2-year-old Stanley Thomas in November 2015. On Sunday, November 18, 2015, first responders were called to the King of Glory Church on Genesee Avenue in Dayton on a report of a toddler not breathing.

Thomas was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital and was dead on arrival, according to the Prosecutor’s Office. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office says Thomas died from blunt force trauma to the head and ruled the death a homicide.

Prosecutors say Weaver, who was the foster father of Thomas, said at the time the child had fallen from a table.

The indictment includes:

  • Two counts of Murder
  • Two counts of Endangering Children
  • One count of Involuntary Manslaughter
  • One count of Reckless Homicide
  • One count of Felonious Assault
  • One count of Obstructing Official Business”


Mark Driscoll lawsuit – updated*


The Seattle Times reports…

“As a judge dismisses the racketeering lawsuit against former Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll, a former executive elder says he’s willing to answer questions about the church’s financial dealings.

In February, four former members of Mars Hill Church filed a racketeering lawsuit against Pastor Mark Driscoll, claiming misuse of thousands if not millions of dollars in donations.

But the four plaintiffs didn’t have money to pursue the suit and never served Driscoll or onetime Mars Hill executive elder Sutton Turner, also named as a defendant, with the necessary papers.

Consequently, on Thursday, a judge dismissed the suit.

U.S. District Court Judge James Robart declined, however, to sanction the former church members, as requested by Turner. “The plaintiffs have not acted in bad faith, recklessly, or with an improper purpose,” wrote Robart, who also noted their complaint “is not frivolous on its face.”

The judge also left the door open for the plaintiffs to file the lawsuit again. “We hope to,” said Brian Jacobsen, although he and his fellow plaintiffs are still looking for money to pay legal fees already incurred.

He said the former church members were counting on publicity about the suit to bring in donations. “Some did come in, but not enough.”

Driscoll, who has started a new church on the outskirts of Phoenix, could not be reached for comment.

“It’s time to move on,” said Turner from his new home in San Antonio, calling the implosion of Mars Hill and the bitter aftermath “the most difficult thing I’ve ever gone through.”

Still, he said, he wanted to meet with the plaintiffs and planned to travel next month to Seattle in hopes of doing so. Turner said he would answer whatever questions the former members had, including about financial matters.

He added he has faced resistance about revealing such information. “I was threatened by an attorney representing Mars Hill,” he said. The attorney, whom he declined to name, told him that releasing inside data “would be a big mistake.”

“I don’t know anything about that,” said Ronald Friedman, who represents Mars Hill in its ongoing legal dissolution.

In any case, Turner said he felt free to talk now that the racketeering lawsuit had been dissolved.

“We’re considering that,” Jacobsen said of the offer to meet.”


The comfy chair


The Telegraph reports…

When the Spanish Inquisition, as reimagined by Monty Python’s Flying Circus, wanted to torture their victims into confessing to heresy there was only one thing for it: to fetch the comfy chair.

Now the use of comfortable seating has become a test of orthodoxy in real life after an ecclesiastical court banned the use of padded chairs in a church on the grounds that they were verging on the ungodly.

In a formal judgment, the Consistory Court of the Diocese of Coventry, ruled that the use of upholstery in a historic place of worship could be “overly casual” and “incompatible with a house of God”.

Parishioners in the 12th Century Holy Trinity Church in the village of Long Itchington, Warwickshire, applied for a special permission – or faculty – to replace their woodworm-infested Victorian pews in order to open up the building for children’s groups and other uses.

The judge, the Chancellor of the diocese, Stephen Eyre QC, agreed with a plan to replace them with stackable chairs, ruling that the pews were of “little merit” historically.

But he ordered that any replacement must not be upholstered after heritage groups including the Victorian Society and Historic England objected, arguing that the planned cushioned seating was “unworthy” for the historic building.

Leading parishioners in the church had planned to buy a new set of chairs similar to those used in neighbouring parishes and even in Lambeth Palace.

They chose wooden chairs with a burgundy coloured built-in cushion, explaining that it would help make the building “warm and welcoming”.

But after receiving objections, Mr Eyre ruled that wooden seats should be comfortable enough, adding that padding could look “shabby”.

And he claimed that, far from being welcoming to visitors, soft chairs might even put people off.

“I accept that the interior appearance of a church should if at all possible not be off-putting to those new to it,” he said.

“However, it is to be remembered that an overly casual appearance can be incompatible with a house of God and can be as unattractive to newcomers as an appearance of excessive rigour.

“An emphasis on quality and seemliness is not only appropriate in buildings dedicated to the Glory of God but is also part of what attracts those new to the Church.

“When considering comfort I must give considerable weight to the expert advice that properly designed unupholstered chairs can be as comfortable as those which are upholstered.”

But Maureen Mitchell, the church warden, said: “Many of the congregation are elderly and they are entitled to comfort now and again.”

She explained that the church, which does not have a separate hall, is regularly used for community events, fundraising and special informal children’s services all of which require hauling the heavy pews out of the way.

“When you go to the other churches in this area they have all got them … but the Victorian Society have put their oar in and said no,” she said.

“This is going to knock us right back, where at the moment we are a growing church.

“The pews are in a terrible state, they have to be moved which is difficult and they are falling apart.

“We have got two [wooden] chairs in the church at the moment on loan which the congregation are testing to see which they prefer.

“We are getting mixed reviews on both of them, I think they’ve all got their heart set on these padded chairs and now we can’t have them.”

She explained that the two church wardens had been left to manage the complicated application process as the parish currently has no vicar after the previous incumbent retired more than a year ago.

“We have been doing this [process] now for two years, it has been a bit of a nightmare,” she said.

“Apparently they’re not going to allow any church now to have padded seats, at least that’s what they’ve said to us.

“Certainly within the diocese that’s what we have been led to believe – no more padded chairs.”

An official in the diocese said that while there was no blanket ban, the use of upholstered chairs in historic churches would be discouraged.”


The last shall be first


Pink News reports…

“Radio host Iain Dale has confronted the Christian campaigner who suggested that Tom Daley lost out on an Olympic medal because he “turned gay”.

The notoriously anti-LGBT evangelical group Christian Voice made the comments on Twitter after Daley failed to qualify for the Olympic diving final.

They wrote: “Turning gay doesn’t seem to have done Tom Daley any favours at #Rio2016


“And we need to remember that Tom Daley only went gay because he was seduced by an older man.”

LBC’s Iain Dale invited Stephen Green of Christian Voice onto his phone-in show after the shocking comments.

Green told the host: “He’s held up as such a gay icon, the gays really feel I’ve attacked one of their own. By walking away from the gay network, by renewing his mind, Tom Daley would do better. That’s just my belief.”

“I really wish Daley would shut up about starting a family with his fiance. Two men can’t have a baby. Someone should tell him quietly that a woman has to get involved.”

But Dale fired back: “Who are you to judge? What’s it got to do with you?

“You call yourselves Christian Voice, but you haven’t sounded very Christian in this conversation.”

When Green moves on to mock “gay-married” hockey players Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh, Dale shot back: “No, they’re married. Under the law in this country, they are married.

“You may not like it, but the law has changed, and people of the same sex are married. I have a marriage certificate saying I’m married to my partner.

“I don’t really care whether in your eyes you think I am or not.”

Dale challenged: “You’re a bit obsessed with Tom Daley… you’ve done quite a bit [about him].

“I don’t see why you would do that, other than wanting to gain notoriety.”

As Green continued to rant, Dale chipped in: “I just can’t think why you’re so obsessed with Tom Daley. People will have their own theories I guess.”

“How long have you been so obsessed with Tom Daley… is it something you can grow out of?”

“Why is it you call yourself Christian Voice? To my mind, you should be done under the Trade Descriptions Act. If Christianity is anything, it is about spreading love.”



The down and out



The Daily Mail reports…

“This is the sickening moment a man ‘peacefully’ protesting the closure of a church knocks a bystander out in a seemingly unprovoked attack.

Footage of the horrific knock-out punch was captured by an apparent sympathiser of the group protesting the demolition of Saint Rita’s Church in Paris, France.

The video shows the Catholic fundamentalists praying in the street when a bystander walks up behind them to watch.

He doesn’t appear to say anything, but one man in the group appears to take an instant disliking to him and jumps to his feet before punching him in the face.

The victim, who doesn’t see the sickening blow coming, hits the ground with a thud as a woman jumps out the way in horror.

The unconscious man is then attacked again by the same protester, who grabs hold of his clothes and appears to pull him onto the road.

The shocking footage was posted to YouTube along with a description, which apparently explained the incident.

The video maker alleges that the victim of the attack had been disrupting the group by ‘playing loud music on his mobile phone’.

The description adds that the man was then ‘chastised for his rudeness’ by a ‘soldier of Christ’.

It is not clear whether the victim suffered any serious injuries as a result of being attacked. There were also no reports that any arrests had been made.

Saint Rita, built in 1900, had been the sanctuary of Gallicans, traditionalist Catholics who profess to practice the faith as it existed in medieval times, celebrating mass in Latin, but they are not recognised by the Vatican.

The church’s owner, the Association of Catholic and Apostolic Chapels, had decided to replace the structure with a housing development, and it was shut in April 2015.

It was recently the site of chaos after riot police were seen brutally dragging a priest in ceremonial dress outside as he – along with 20 others – protested its demolition.

Police arrived with batons and helmets to forcibly remove the congregation on August 2.

It happened just hours apart from the funeral of Father Jacques Hamel, who was knifed to death by ISIS-inspired attacker in his church in Normandy as he celebrated Mass.”


Church leaders finally stand up to Franklin Graham


The Vancouver Sun reports…

“Metro Vancouver Christians are colliding over the coming crusade of televangelist Franklin Graham, who is known for criticizing homosexuals, Muslims and U.S. President Barack Obama.

Saying that Graham is often “incendiary and intolerant,” some evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics are opposing his participation in the three-day Festival of Hope event at Rogers Arena in early March, 2017, that many of the city’s mega-churches are supporting .

“Rev. Graham is a polarizing figure … His ungracious and bigoted remarks have the potential to generate serious negative impact on the Christian witness in Vancouver,” says a statement from five prominent evangelical and Catholic leaders (see full letter at bottom).

“We … denounce the frequent incendiary and intolerant statements made by Rev. Graham, which he unapologetically reiterates,” said the letter, signed by Marjeta Bobnar of the Catholic archdiocese, City in Focus president Tom Cooper, Tenth Church pastor Ken Shigematsu, Calvary Baptist pastor Tim Dickau and First Baptist pastor Tim Kuepfer.

Franklin Graham, son of 97-year-old retired televangelist Billy Graham, has said homosexuals are “the enemy” and will “spend eternity in hell” if they don’t repent.

While attacking Obama, Graham has called Islam a “very wicked religion” and argued that Muslims shouldn’t be allowed into the U.S.

Some of the large, often ethnically mixed evangelical congregations in Metro Vancouver that are endorsing Graham’s crusade include Willingdon Church, Westside Church, Coastal Church, Broadway Church, Glad Tidings Church, Holy Trinity Church and Richmond Pentecostal Church.

Earning more than $1 million a year as an evangelist and head of the charity Samaritan’s Purse, Graham led a crusade in Toronto in 2014 that was attended by 40,000 people of diverse ethnic origins.

After the Toronto event, Samaritan’s Purse terminated a Canadian volunteer because she refused to sign a standard statement opposing abortion and homosexual marriage.

Rev. George Wong, head pastor at Evangelical Chinese Bible Church in Burnaby, one of many congregations training volunteers to work at Graham’s crusade, said “the last thing we want to do is promote hate.”

Graham “is not coming to Vancouver to preach against homosexuality, but to preach the gospel,” Wong said.

Saying he was unaware a Christian group is opposing Graham’s involvement in the Festival of Hope, Wong didn’t want to comment on Graham’s statements about gays and Muslims, other than to affirm “the gospel is for people from all walks of life.”

In North Vancouver, another endorser of the Festival of Hope, Valley Church Pastor Owen Scott, declined to comment on the controversy other than to say, “I know Franklin is not the same as his dad. His dad is a pretty gracious person.”

In an interview from the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association headquarters in Calgary, David Ingram said his organization “never expects 100 per cent support for one of our festivals.”

Noting that a relatively small number of evangelicals and Catholics signed the dissenting letter, Ingram said, “I wouldn’t want a few people who are opposed to the festival to overshadow the wide support for it.”

Ingram said leaders of many churches and ethnic groups are backing Graham’s crusade. Maintaining that protest letters can be divisive, Ingram asked whether The Vancouver Sun and The Province planned to publish an article about the inter-Christian disagreement.

While the opposition statement was signed by Catholic ecumenical relations official Bobnar, Paul Schratz confirmed the archdiocese also formally declined an invitation to take part in the Festival of Hope.

“Initially we were supportive of next year’s event, since it was intended to draw a large number of people to hear the gospel and grow closer to Jesus,” said Schratz, spokesman for the archdiocese, which includes more than 400,000 Catholics.

“While we obviously acknowledge Mr. Graham’s zeal in preaching the Gospel we had second thoughts about participating when we noted that American evangelicals, whom we were trying to work with on this event, were criticizing Mr. Franklin for various comments and stances that didn’t promote religious tolerance.”

The formal letter of opposition to the Festival of Hope’s leadership committee was signed by Christian leaders in Metro Vancouver whom the Billy Graham Association had asked for endorsements, including Cooper, Shigematsu, Dickau and Kuepfer.

Cooper, president of City in Focus which specializes in ministering to business people, said those who signed the letter “were willing to provide suggestions for an alternative speaker. But the Festival of Hope leadership committee was content with having Reverend Graham give the major talks.

“We therefore, reluctantly, decided we could not endorse this event. We understand that we are just one of many evangelical and orthodox voices and there will sometimes be disagreement.”


Church Islam protest


The ABC reports…

“Senator Pauline Hanson has distanced herself from an anti-Islam group which disrupted an Anglican church service.

Members of the group, Party for Freedom, were dressed in mock Islamic garb when they barged into the Gosford Anglican Church during a service on the New South Wales Central Coast on Sunday.

They pretended to pray while playing Muslim prayers on a loudspeaker and criticised Islam before walking out.

Senator Hanson features in many images on the group’s website and Facebook pages, but she told the ABC One Nation had no official affiliation with the Party For Freedom.

She said the group’s action was “counterproductive in the serious argument One Nation are calling for”.

“I think it’s uncalled for [for] media to blame One Nation or myself for these actions,” she said.

“Let’s have a proper debate as a community and leave the satire out of it.”

A statement issued on behalf of One Nation said the party did not condone any violence.

“However if these concerns are not addressed, we believe that there may come a time where there is civil unrest on our streets,” it said.

The party also stated the church was most likely targeted due to its support for refugees and Muslims.

Father Rod Bower, who was running the service, told the ABC he was shocked when the group entered his church halfway through his sermon.

“It was … just out of the blue, some of the congregation were quite upset,” he said.

“I recognised one of the participants and clearly they weren’t Muslims — it was mock attire.”

The group posted photos of their stunt on social media, claiming it was a protest against Father Bower’s support for Islamic leaders and multiculturalism.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also criticised the action, saying those involved were “way out of line”.

Mr Shorten told reporters in Brisbane “it seems to me that some of these people don’t seem to like any religion”.

“Imagine gatecrashing a Christian service to make a point about other political points of view,” he said.

“I don’t agree with what they did there. This country needs to be tolerant of people’s religious practices and — this group were way out of line staging a protest in a Christian church.”


Pastor kills worship team member


Daily Star Nigeria reports…

“Controversial South African pastor, Lethebo Rabalango, has allegedly killed one of his members after he put a speaker on top of her body to prove God’s power.

According to news making the rounds, the girl died following internal injuries she sustained.

The pastor and founder of Mount Zion General Assembly had organised a night of worship at his church in Polokwane on Friday, where he was teaching about demonstration of power in which he emphasized that if Jesus walked on water, he too could do anything with faith, Jacaranda FM, South Africa’s independent radio station learnt.

However, the unfortunate incident played out when he invited a girl from the praise team and asked her to lie down. He then ordered ushers to carry a big speaker and put on her stomach saying the weight would not harm her.

Rabalango climbed on top of the speaker, adding pressure to allegedly suffocate the girl who reports say remained quiet as she had already passed out.

Afterwards, the pastor reportedly sat on top of the speaker which was still on the girl’s stomach for close to five minutes, he got up and ordered removal of the speaker, but the girl could not rise.

The pastor was said to have blamed the girl and accused her of having little faith for she could not withstand a task he referred to as simple.”


The Newcastle hearings

The ABC reports…

“One of Australia’s most senior Anglicans, the Archbishop of Perth Roger Herft, has told a royal commission he would not report child sexual abuse allegations if he did not know the name of the alleged victim.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is holding public hearings in Newcastle.

The case study is examining the way the local Anglican diocese responded to allegations of child sexual abuse made against clergy and lay members of the church.

In giving evidence today, Archbishop Herft conceded the reporting mechanisms for dealing with child sexual abuse allegations were inadequate while he was the Bishop of Newcastle from 1993 to 2005.

“Did you understand you had an obligation to report allegations of child sexual abuse to the police, regardless of your view of the merits of that allegation?” asked counsel assisting the commission, Naomi Sharp.

“The answer would be yes. But, I think there were some conditions attached to it in terms of the process of complaint etc,” Archbishop Herft said.

“What details did you consider you required before you considered you had an obligation to report these allegations to the police?” she asked.

“One was the name of the complainants would have to be known. Certainly the name of the respondent would have to be known,” Archbishop Herft replied.

He said it was his understanding that police would not be able to take action if the complainant’s name was not known.

Archbishop Herft: “Yes, ma’am.”

The commission was shown a record from a meeting in 1998 between former Bishop Herft and other church officials.

It showed there was some concern that abuse allegations were not followed up unless a formal written complaint was given to the diocese.

“If the allegation was sexual abuse of a child, someone under 18, did you require a formal written complaint before the diocese would react in any way at all?” asked commission chair Justice Peter McClellan.

“I think that would be the position, you honour,” Archbishop Herft replied.

“That leaves children at risk. Do you think that was acceptable?” Justice McClellan asked.

“Totally unacceptable,” Archbishop Herft replied.

The commission was told Archbishop Herft wrote a policy in 1993 called “Principles and Procedures for Dealing with Accusations of Sexual Harassment”.

He agreed it was not prepared with child sexual abuse allegations in mind.

The commission heard there was nothing in the document about ensuring the Bishop was made aware of abuse complaints or about reporting allegations to police.

Archbishop Herft said: “Looking back on it, it’s a very naive approach … This particular document, looking back on it, did not take cognisance of child sexual abuse.”

Ms Sharp: “Is it right that, at least during the first half of your tenure as Bishop, there was really no framework at all for dealing with allegations of child sexual assault?”

Archbishop Herft: “I think that would be accurate ma’am.”

The commission also heard there were no steps in place to make sure the Bishop was told immediately about criminal allegations against priests.

“Yes,” Archbishop Herft replied.

The commission was also shown the diocese’s 2004 clergy code of conduct document, called Faithfulness in Ministry, which stated only “certain sexual behaviour constitutes child sexual abuse”.

Ms Sharp later asked the Archbishop: “I take it that you now agree that was not an appropriate policy framework for dealing with allegations of child sexual abuse?”

“It certainly is not a way of dealing with child sexual abuse,” he replied.

Archbishop Herft said there was “tenseness about the relationship” he had with paedophile priest Peter Rushton.

Rushton worked across the diocese from 1963, but allegations of sexual abuse involving him only came to light after his death in 2007.

The commission heard Rushton thought Archbishop Herft’s hands were “tainted by having ordained women”.

“We had this rather awkward position that, for example, in Peter Rushton’s parish I would not be allowed to preside at the eucharist,” Archbishop Herft said.

Ms Sharp asked the Archbishop whether he “dropped the ball” when it came to dealing with Rushton and his years of child sexual abuse.

“I’ve asked myself a number of times why was I not more alert, why weren’t the people around me more alert? I struggle to find an answer for that.

“But, I agree with you, at that particular point of time I should have acted more effectively and well, and I did not.”

“How did you miss this?” Ms Sharp asked.

“I have no idea ma’am,” he replied.

“Even though you were aware of allegations that one of the most senior members of the clergy, that is Rushton, had sexually abused children, and you were made aware that there were about 30 cases in which child sexual abuse had been alleged, you did nothing to get to the bottom of what was going on in your diocese about child sexual abuse?” Ms Sharp asked.

The case study has previously heard evidence about a national “caveat list” of risky or problem priests, which aimed to warn other Bishops about employing them in their dioceses.

The commission heard the list was abandoned in 1985 on legal advice that it was “too risky to continue with it”.

Archbishop Herft said he had no knowledge of the list, but did say he had heard of a “black book” of “troublemaker” priests.

He said he could not recall ever seeing it, and said the book did not contain names of clergy alleged to have sexually abused children.

The public hearings in Newcastle have been adjourned until August 29 when Archbishop Herft is expected to continue giving evidence.”




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