Funeral gatecrasher

Pic:John Bisset/Fairfax

The New Zealand Herald reports…

“The parents of a man who threatened to exhume a 90-year-old man’s body believe he has been affected by a new church in which the pastor believes in faith-based healing.

“He’s not been long with the church, but long enough for them to get their hooks into him,” said the man’s father yesterday, after their son contacted Harold Ritchie’s relatives again, asking to meet them at the grave so he could “raise the body”.

Police took the 25-year old into custody when he arrived at the Ruru Lawn Cemetery in Bromley, Christchurch, and referred him for a psychiatric assessment.

On Wednesday, the man turned up uninvited at Mr Ritchie’s funeral. He banged on the coffin and told the deceased man to “wake up”.

Yesterday, his distraught mother said her son’s actions were completely out of character.

“He’s a lovely boy. He has always been Christian in his beliefs, but he’s never been a churchgoer.

“Now, I don’t know what he’s involved in, whether they’re some sort of cult or what.”

The man went to the cemetery with his two church friends, including Sansom holding a Bible and a copy of Mr Ritchie’s funeral programme. He was quickly apprehended by police guarding the freshly dug grave.

Before being taken away in a police car, he urged officers to let him continue his bizarre mission.

“Time is running out,” he said, promising to fast-track Mr Ritchie to heaven. “Tomorrow is too late.”

One of those with the man was church member Jonathan Sansom.

“He said he wanted to raise the dead and he was going to do it no matter what,” Mr Sansom said.

“He’s been talking about it for a while. He picked me up from home and just said, ‘Today is the day’.

“I didn’t know what he was on about. He looked upset, so I went with him.”

Mr Sansom said he, too, had joined Fellowship Church last month and the move had been “life-changing”.

The church is led by “Pastor Peter”. Neither he nor anyone in his congregation would reveal his full name.

Mr Sansom said the pastor had healed his hand after nine tendons were slashed.

“Since Pastor Peter has been praying for me, I’ve been getting some feeling back in my fingers for the first time. I’m turning my life around. It’s amazing.”

Pastor Peter said he started the church in June. It met twice a week for service and prayer at Waltham Primary School hall in inner Christchurch and had “60 or 70 members now, I’m not sure”.

He denied it was a cult.

“We’re just Christians. We believe in Jesus Christ. We pray in the name of Jesus. There’s nothing new we do.”

He helped heal Mr Sansom’s hand but there was “no magic”.

“We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. I don’t heal people, but God, he heals people.”

Pastor Peter invited APNZ to last night’s service, which opened with him telling his congregation about the sequence of events that started at Mr Ritchie’s funeral.

Churchgoers prayed for the man who banged on the coffin.

Many of the 15 people present chanted aloud in tongues, with eyes closed and palms held upwards. Others stood quietly and read from the Bible.

Pastor Peter said the funeral gatecrasher had been a church member for only three weeks but was “happy, popular”.

He accompanied the man to Mr Ritchie’s funeral, under the impression the deceased was a friend. He said he couldn’t believe it when the man tried to raise the dead.

He apologised to Mr Ritchie’s family and said he had urged his parishioner to do the same.

Yesterday, Mr Ritchie’s son-in-law, Ross Kiddie, said he and his wife, Jeanne, were glad the man had been apprehended.

“We’re pleased that he can now get treatment, or the appropriate justice served.”



Bishop Wile E. Coyote – updated*

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WSB reports…

“A local megachurch pastor and his brother were indicted on Wednesday, according to the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office.

Gospel Tabernacle Church Pastor Bishop Wiley Jackson and his brother Rodney Jackson are facing eight felony counts for allegedly violating the Georgia Securities Act.

DeKalb District Attorney Robert James said the brothers misled their own church members in investing into Genesis LLC, a securities entity that was not registered by the state.

James told Channel 2’s Tom Regan the men recruited members to pitch in thousands of dollars that would be used for ministry-related investments, like inspirational books, tapes and other items. But the investors didn’t get a promise on their return and lost their money.

“They met with them, and one of these individuals (who invested in the business) gave as much as $10,000; the other $2,000, they invested with them and they lost their money,” James explained.

James said the investment issue dates back several years, but in 2009, the accusers went to the Secretary of State’s Office and learned Genesis LLC wasn’t registered by the state and then reported the case to the district attorney.

Arrest warrants have been issued for the Jackson brothers.

Channel 2 Action News received the following statement from Pastor Jackson.

“I am surprised to learn of this indictment. I am out of town and cannot respond until I have read the indictment. There has been no wrongdoing,” he said.”










Church believes horses cure homosexuality

Gay Star News reports…

“An American church is promising gay men they will be cured of their homosexuality if they stroke horses.

The Cowboy Church of Virginia, led by chief pastor Raymond Bell, believes homosexuality and other ‘addictions’ can be cured by Equine Assisted Psychotherapy.

Horse therapy, in the right hands, can be used to help overcome fears, develop communication skills, and is generally beneficial to mental health.

But Bell says the horses in his church, a cowboy ranch in the south, are part of teaching men to stop being gay and encourage them to be more masculine.

‘EAP can help any person who is living the homosexual lifestyle or involved in it in anyway,’ he told Gay Star News.

‘The first common misconception is that homosexuality is genetic, or hereditary, or as some say “born this way”.

‘Homosexuality is actually a type of addiction. It is not “curable” as a disease because it is a “choice driven” by the person.’

Bell said he uses EAP to identify how a person got ‘involved’ in homosexuality to begin with. For example, because of rape, abandonment, lacking a male role model, abuse, and having low self-esteem.

He said: ‘Homosexuality is a secondary effect from a single, or multiple, primary events in a person’s life.’

When asked if the therapy ever worked, or if it was even valid, the pastor said ‘it is not now, nor has it ever been, in question’.

In September, California became the first US state to ban ‘gay cure’ therapy for minors.

The ban stops psychiatrists and churches from performing or reparative therapy, which the World Health Organization calls ‘dangerous and abusive’.

In April 2012, the father of gay cure therapy Bob Spitzer said he now wants to retract his 2001 study which proclaimed gay and lesbian people could change their sexual orientation.

He said: ‘I believe I owe the gay community an apology for my study making unproven claims of the efficacy of reparative therapy.

‘I also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy because they believed that I had proven that reparative therapy works with some “highly motivated” individuals.’

The American Psychological Association declassified homosexuality as an illness in 1973 and views ‘gay cure’ practices as ‘inappropriate, unethical and inhumane.”


Former Hill$ong pastor wants taxpayers’ millions spent on lucrative love-offering circuit speakers venue


“NBA team or not, some business leaders in Virginia Beach think an arena could support itself.

One city official says he has to turn clients away because there is no venue big enough for their prospective events.

The proposed 18,500-seat arena would be built on land near the Virginia Beach Convention Center. Construction depends on the $150 million in funding the city council has requested from the state.

There are two main groups city officials would like to cash in on: faith-based groups, who hold arena assemblies and amateur sporting events. ACC tournament officials have already expressed interest in using the arena.

The city marketing team says large events, such as the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, are just the tip of the moneymaking iceberg. They say an arena would allow for much more. “We feel we have a good chance, if the arena is built, to bring some of those amateur sporting events to Virginia Beach,” Vice President of Convention Sales and Marketing at the Convention and Visitors Bureau Al Hutchinson. Hutchinson said events like U.S. figure skating championships, regional basketball tournaments and arena lacrosse are all examples of what Virginia Beach is missing out on. “The real challenge right now is we can’t even talk with some of these groups without an arena,” Hutchinson said. “They’re meeting in the cities, like the San Jose’s of the world, the Omaha, Nebraska’s and we feel we have a similar product and we could go after those groups.” The other big markets Hutchinson would like to bring to the Beach are faith-based groups, who hold arena assemblies.

Steve Kelly, Pastor at WAVE church, says he knows big names like televangelist Joel Osteen could fill the arena and have expressed interest in doing so. “I’ve talked to Joel Osteen and let him know that this is an arena that could possibly be built here,” said Kelly. “He [Osteen] said he would love to make use of that, and consider using it, as well as Joyce Meyer.” From a business standpoint, Hutchinson says amateur sports and faith-based groups are attractive clients because they would use both the arena and the convention center simultaneously, and stay for several days at a time. “It would definitely be a game changer if the arena were to happen,” Hutchinson said.

Many citizens worry city officials overestimate the revenue an arena would bring. At Tuesday’s arena town hall meeting, citizens expressed concern about how the city is going to pay for the project.

Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms says the city must have a firm commitment from the unnamed NBA team, before Jan. 9, when the General Assembly convenes.”








Why the Westboro Baptist Church wants to picket the Connecticut massacre funerals

“Nate Phelps, the son of Westboro Baptist Church’s founder Fred Phelps, appeared on HuffPost Live Wednesday to discuss the controversial organization’s plans to picket funerals of children killed in the Newtown, Conn., elementary school massacre. Nate Phelps left the parish at 18 years old and has since become [an advocate] for LGBT rights.

Nate left the church with three other siblings who are also estranged from the organization. He currently identifies as an atheist and is a public speaker on child abuse and religion. Phelps has publicly stated that his father was abusive and his church was simply a pulpit for his father to vent his rage.

Currently, Nate serves as the Executive Director of the Centre for Inquiry Canada, a secular organization that educates and advocates for reason and science. He also serves on the board of directors for Recovering from Religion, an organization which offers education and practical support for people moving away from religion.

In his conversation with HuffPost Live, Nate slammed the church for its plans to picket the funerals and touched on Anonymous’ hacking of a Westboro Baptist Church Twitter account.”


How to shut up a noisy church

Pic:David Taylor


The Queensland Times reports…

“A man living next door to a church became so incensed at the choir practice he repeatedly turned his hose on the devout group, an Ipswich court heard.

The group practised every Tuesday night at St Agnes Anglican Church in Esk and neighbour Rodney Allen Hyde had had enough.

The 61-year-old lives at the caravan park behind St Agnes and his window backs directly onto the church. Despite asking the church to close the windows during practice, their hymn singing didn’t let up.

Ipswich Magistrates Court that heard on December 4 Hyde decided enough was enough.

After yelling abuse at the choir from his caravan, Hyde grabbed a garden hose and pushed it through the window of the church.

The water soaked the choir, but they kept singing. Twice more Hyde hosed them down, and as he sprayed them with water he yelled at them to stop their songs.

The court heard he also threw objects at the church. When police arrived, Hyde told them he was “annoyed” at the singing and the group “weren’t responding to his demands to stop singing”.

Officers asked why Hyde hadn’t called the police himself, to which he said he’d resolved to take matters into his own hands.

Hyde, who had no previous criminal record, pleaded guilty to public nuisance.

He told the court he’d previously asked the choir if they’d mind shutting their windows during practice because he had trouble sleeping at night. Hyde said he didn’t want to move his caravan because he was established.

He said the choir would now practise in the community hall. Hyde was fined $120 without a conviction recorded.”