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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pope Endorses Gay Marriage

posted by on September 13 at 9:17 AM

Good news, homos! In France yesterday Pope Benedict XVI endorsed civil marriage rights for same-sex couples. I mean, that's implicit in statements the Pope made about the secular and religious realms, right?

“At this moment in history, when cultures continue to cross paths more frequently, I am firmly convinced that a new reflection on the true meaning and importance of secularism is now necessary,” the pope said at a ceremony earlier Friday with President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Élysée Palace. He used the word “laïcité,” which denotes the separation of church and state.

But the pope proposed a “distinction between the political realm and that of religion in order to preserve both the religious freedom of citizens and the responsibility of the state toward them.” He distinguished the state’s legislative and social duties from religion’s role “for the formation of conscience” and the “creation of a basic ethical consensus in society.”

Wow—thanks for that ringing endorsement of the separation of church and state, Mr. Pope! This means, of course, that we won't be seeing any more money from Catholic Church pouring into anti-gay marriage campaigns (or anti-right-to-die campaigns, for that matter), right?

Because if there's a secular realm, like Mr. Pope said, and a religious realm, and the church has to let the state take care of the state's business and the state has to let the church take care of its own business, and seeing as marriage is a civil institution as well as a religious institution, well gosh, it naturally follows that states—and citizens—can elect to open the civil institution of marriage to same-sex couples while the church, free to act on its beliefs, can continue to deny the religious sacrament of marriage to same-sex couples.

Great! It's a deal! Thanks, Mr. Pope!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on September 12 at 11:04 AM


A former private school teacher and high school coach must now register as a sex offender after being convicted of having sex with a 17-year-old girl.

Andrew John Humphreys, 27, appeared in Douglas County Circuit Court for sentencing Tuesday. The man pleaded guilty in July to the misdemeanor charge of contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor.

Humphreys was 26 when he had sex with the teen he’d met at their church, Oakland Church of Christ, where he served as a youth group leader, said Deputy District Attorney Colin Benson.


With four alleged victims already, Peel Regional Police are making a public plea for any other potential victims of a former Mississauga youth pastor and camp director to come forward.

Garth Stanwyn Bent, 48, of Acton, was charged with four counts of indecent sexual assault Tuesday. Those charges come eight months after police charged Bent with one count of indecent assault on a male....

All the alleged assaults took place between 1981 and 1982 when Bent was a youth counsel or youth pastor at St. Bride's Church in Mississauga and the out-trip director at the Ontario Pioneer Camp in Port Sydney. The force's Special Victims Unit said all the alleged victims were 12 to 14 at the time.


YPWskate2.jpgSince beginning his youth ministry at the South Seminole Drive church two years ago, pastor Derek Eledge, 27, has reached out to the children others shun by creating a place for them to skateboard, hang out and develop a relationship with God.

“When I saw all the skaters skating through the parking lot, God told me, ‘There’s your youth group,’” he said.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Death Desert

posted by on September 3 at 12:05 PM

Five women buried alive in name of honour:

Three teenage girls along with their two close elderly relatives were shot at before being buried alive in a desert of Balochistan by their tribesmen in the name of honour.

The shocking reports of this horrible incident reaching the capital from different quarters revealed that the girls studying in classes 10 to 12 intended to marry men of their choice through a civil court by defying the centuries-old tribal traditions. When the fuming elders of Umrani tribe came to know about the intentions of these girls to appear before a local court, they picked them up from their homes along with two of their elderly women relatives. The crying girls were pushed into official cars and driven to a deserted area. There they were pushed out of the cars, made to stand in a queue and volleys of shots fired at them.

As the bleeding girls fell on the sand, the tribesmen dragged them into a nearby ditch and levelled it with earth and stones before the girls could breathe their last. As the two shocked elderly women tried to rescue the hapless girls, they too were gunned down and buried in the same manner.

But even worse than the killings: "Legislators indifferent to sorry end of women buried alive":

As the government remained indifferent towards the sorry end of the five women who were buried alive in a desert of Balochistan last month, it has been revealed that the influential man who had killed the women is a ìserial killerî and loves to kill women.

The alleged serial killer had reportedly killed three persons, including one girl, before killing the five women. But he has never been captured or punished for his acts against humanity. Even parliamentarians who had raised hue and cry over the issue of Dr Aafia Siddiqui and passed a joint resolution in this regard remained silent on the sorry fate of the five women.

Utterly horrible.

Sarah Palin, Joe Eszterhas, and God

posted by on September 3 at 10:14 AM

Jesus Christ—what did I think/talk/read about before "the clown car that is Sarah Palin" (rightfully) took over all human consciousness?

Oh yeah—this, which brings me to something I've been meaning to Slog for days, but I kept getting sidetracked by some new hilarious twist in Palingate: Joe Eszterhas has written a book about his spiritual rebirth.

From the nation's preeminent dispensary of Eszterhasenalia, the Toledo Blade:

Joe Eszterhas' latest book is a shocker, but not the kind that made him rich and famous. The [new] release from the man who penned dark thrillers such as Basic Instinct and Jagged Edge [and this!] tells the story of his spiritual conversion and his newfound devotion to God and family.

Of course I'm tempted to say something snarky, but you can't blast a dude for being a boneheaded cro-magnon man then get uppity when he starts taking baby steps toward evolution.

But still:

"Frankly my life changed from the moment God entered my heart. I'm not interested in the darkness anymore," [Eszterhas} said. "I've got four gorgeous boys, a wife I adore, I love being alive, and I love and enjoy every moment of my life. My view has brightened and I don't want to go back into that dark place."

Dear God: Please inspire Joe Eszterhas to make a movie of the Bible. Amen.

We now return to previously scheduled obsessing over Palin...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on August 29 at 3:43 PM

YPW tipper Jennifer sent this picture in...


"I thought you might appreciate this," Jennifer wrote in the attached note. "I was driving today and saw this sign at a local church: 'SERMON: IF I HAD CHRIST'S HANDS WHAT WOULD I TOUCH?' Of course I immediately thought of "Youth Pastor Watch" and answered, "Uh, children, apparently!"

Moving on...


Former Walworth County youth pastor denies sexual abuse charges

A Lake Geneva teen attended youth group in the 1970s to learn about God and Christianity, but she claims a counselor had sex with her after playing a “trust” game.

The woman, now 49, for the first time Wednesday confronted the man accused of assaulting her, pointing toward him in Walworth County Court, saying he had sex with her 34 years ago when she was 15 and 16.... Russell J. Lesser, 63, Bryson City, N.C., is accused of having sex with the woman 40 to 60 times, including one time at his house on the girl’s prom night, according to the criminal complaint.

The former Youth for Christ Campus Life minister is charged with two felony counts of sexual intercourse with a child and felony indecent behavior with a child.

And the youth pastors that aren't raping kids on their prom nights are contributing to the childhood-obesity epidemic. Florida:

Kicking off the new school year, the Marco Presbyterian Youth Group started the afternoon meeting with a Bible lesson by Jonathan Loero, youth pastor....

The first meeting culminated with the group, spoons in hand, racing out to the church patio area to dig into a 25-foot ice cream sundae with all the trimmings.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

O They Will Know We Are Christians...

posted by on August 26 at 2:54 PM our porn addictions, and our clumsy, emotionally manipulative efforts to cover them up.

The disgraced pastor at the centre of a fake cancer scandal has spoken for the first time about his "secret life of sin." ... The statement was read to a packed congregation at a pentecostal church his father, Danny Guglielmucci, founded - Edge Church International at Reynella.

Mr Guglielmucci says the reason behind his fictitious cancer story was to hide his 16-year obsession with pornography. "It is with much pain and sadness that I make this statement today," he said in the statement. "For over 16 years I have struggled with an addition to adult pornography as a result of this secret life of sin my body would often breakdown."

Everything gives you cancer—except porn. That just causes your body to "break down." Some porn addicts may find their bodies breaking down two or three times in a single night.

White Power in Numbers

posted by on August 26 at 10:50 AM, which boasts “the world’s largest Christian audience online," thinks bigoted sheep everywhere will feel better knowing that there are lots more bigoted sheep just like them. According to results of a recent poll they saw fit for my inbox, evangelical Christians all pray to the same hateful god, but, when white evangelicals vote for president, they vote for a candidate whose skin color matches their own. Almost the entire pasty-white flock is voting for John McCain, and a smaller margin of African-American evangelicals are voting for Obama.


And this is great news to the publishers of Crosswalk, we infer, because there’s a thumbs up. And this is good news for whitey, specifically, because that thumb—it’s a white thumb. So amen… for racial division?

Continue reading "White Power in Numbers" »

Monday, August 25, 2008

Jesus Shreds

posted by on August 25 at 3:15 PM

At the YMCA skate park in Mukilteo...


About Those Same-Sex-Wedding-Celebrating Hallmark Cards...

posted by on August 25 at 9:29 AM


As Dan predicted, Hallmark's introduction of same-sex wedding cards has inspired a boycott from the American Family Association:

Hallmark Greeting Cards has announced it will begin selling same-sex wedding cards, even though same-sex marriage is legal in only two states...We've all given or received Hallmark Cards—remember their slogan—"when you care enough to send the very best." But promoting same-sex marriage for profit is not the very best for families or our nation.

Hallmark is a private company obviously driven by greed. Let them know you do not appreciate Hallmark promoting a lifestyle which is illegal in 48 states. American Greeting Cards, Hallmark's competitor, does not offer same-sex marriage cards.

Send an e-mail to Hallmark. Ask them to stop promoting a lifestyle that is not only unhealthy, but is also illegal in 48 states. Forward this to your friends and family.

And as Slog Tipper Stephen notes:

They even put up a link taking readers to a readymade complaint email which they urge everyone to send to Hallmark. They filled the form in with words of protest, but the forum I was on urged everyone to go and edit the text and send them a thank-you instead. Spread the word!

Thanks, Stephen, and will do. Hey everyone—send Hallmark an AFA-generated thank-you note here!

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on August 25 at 9:22 AM

Additional charges filed, not-guilty pleas entered. Three YPW updates...


YPWjenkins.jpgA former O'Fallon church youth minister charged last month with assaulting an 8-year-old girl has been charged again with sexually assaulting another youngster.

Terrence Jenkins, 36, of 542 N. 14th St. in East St. Louis, was charged Thursday by St. Clair County prosecutors with aggravated criminal sexual abuse and criminal sexual assault. The girl was 14 when assaulted on Aug. 11, 2006, the charges state.

He is accused of molesting both girls while he served as a youth minister with Faith United Baptist Church in O'Fallon, according to the court documents. Jenkins is no longer with the church.


YPWandrewbelant1.jpgA former youth pastor and teacher's aide pleaded not guilty to charges he molested four boys he met working at after-school and church-based youth programs.

Andrew Belant, 25, entered his plea Friday in Humboldt County Superior Court. He faces 19 charges. The allegations indicate the boys, aged nine through 13, were molested between January 2007 and March 2008.


rsz_YPWpicard.jpgInvestigators on Tuesday said additional charges were filed against a former youth pastor who was accused last month of sexually abusing a teenage girl. John Picard was arrested and charged in July with 10 counts of sexual battery....

Police said that the first claim against Picard, now 40, came in 2005. The girl, who at that time was 16, claimed that Picard first engaged with sexual conduct with her but investigators did not have any supporting evidence to charge him.

In July, another woman came forward said she and Picard had a sexual relationship that started when she was 13. Six new charges were filed against Picard this week after a third woman claimed that Picard had sexually abused her, 10TV News reported.

And this headline again, just 'cuz...

New youth pastor has BMX skills, passion for children

A passion for children—that's practically a job qualification, isn't it?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Youth Pastor Watch: Silver Lining Edition

posted by on August 22 at 10:14 AM


YPWmatthewporter.jpgA former youth minister was sentenced this afternoon to 120 days in the Manatee County jail and two years of probation for secretly videotaping girls as they undressed in his homes in Bradenton and Ellenton over a two-year period.

Matthew Porter, 31, was found guilty of nine counts of voyeurism, a misdemeanor. He had admitted to hiding video cameras in his bathroom and bedroom and taping girls between the ages of 12 and 16 changing clothes. Porter was a pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Bradenton....

“It has hurt her very bad,” said the mother of one girl. “I saw that she posted on her MySpace page she would never trust a pastor again."

I maintain, of course, that if the media covered youth pastor attacks with the same vigilance that the media covers shark attacks, those girls and their parents wouldn't have been so foolish as to trust that youth pastor—or any pastor—in the first place.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

King of Kings

posted by on August 21 at 5:09 PM

Then the governor's soldiers took Jesus into the palace and gathered the whole troop around him. They took off his clothes and put a bright red cape on him. They twisted some thorns into a crown, placed it on his head, and put a stick in his right hand. They knelt in front of him and made fun of him by saying, "Long live the king of the Jews!" After they had spit on him, they took the stick and kept hitting him on the head with it. After the soldiers finished making fun of Jesus, they took off the cape and put his own clothes back on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

It is only here I can see the glory (truth) of Jesus, the moment he is mocked, the moment he is the subject of derision and fun. The soldiers are right to laugh at him. They are not crazy; Jesus is crazy. Like the narrator of Gogol's short story "Diary of a Madman," he is the king of nothing. He rode into town on a fucking donkey, and his parents are of the lowest birth. The Messiah was supposed to be a great warrior, not a carpenter. This is a complete joke. Mock him we must.

And for those who believe he is the One, the "King of Kings," every time you read this passage, do not wish the worst (hell fire, eternal damnation) for (or cast curses on) his mockers. They have every right and reason to humiliate this mouse of a man. Instead see that this is really your king; this is who he really is and nothing more. The contempt and laughter he rightly deserves is also the source of his greatness. You want to renounce real kings--with their palaces, rings, wives, and hounds--and raise and praise this penniless fool who claims to be the creator of the world.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on August 20 at 4:11 PM


Baptist Pastor David Slone dreamed of leading a church where people could expose and heal any sin or dark secret without fear of judgment or rejection.

But a decades-old secret Slone kept from his Lafayette congregation surfaced last month, not through his testimony, but through anonymous letters mailed to church deacons, to newspapers and to a local chamber of commerce.

In 1986, Slone had been convicted, after pleading guilty, to two counts of child molestation in Oklahoma. He was 22 and served a year in prison. Slone, now 45, knows in many ways it was a life sentence. Some sins are not easily forgotten or forgiven.

He resigned as senior pastor July 18.... Slone has been a member of the church since about 1998, when he, Stacey and their two children moved to Colorado from Oklahoma so he could take a job in software sales. By the time the senior pastor position opened up, Slone had been serving as a youth minister for several years.


Slone has admitted he groped five boys ages 12 and under, including two from a school where he worked and three from his Baptist church in Norman, Okla., where he taught Sunday school. He was convicted of only two counts. A Cleveland County district attorney claimed but never proved there were others.

Gee, maybe the Southern Baptist Convention should revisit its decision not to maintain a sexual-offender database. In June the Baptists decided against creating that database—which would help Baptists protect their children from child molestin' pastors and youth pastors—because they were concerned about the "autonomy of each local church." So sexually assaulting children is bad, according to the Baptists, but assaulting church autonomy? Much worse.

Remember, kids, there is no morality without religion!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Hutch's Church Flirts with Homelessness

posted by on August 18 at 9:38 AM

Slog tipper Russ alerts us to the ongoing call for help—be it money, real estate, or prayer—from Ken Hutcherson's Antioch Bible Church:

Dear Church,

1. The Elder Board decided not to move forward on the Canyon Park location.

2. We are continuing to explore all our options for a 24/7 long-term facility which includes the Kirkland location that has been mentioned the last two Sundays.

3. We also are looking for a short term location to allow us to carry on our present services and programs.

4. The Our Home campaign is ongoing, with funds received and pledges designated toward a new facility.

5. On Sunday, August 24 at 9:00 am, we will have one large service, and then gather the congregation for an update and Q&A on where we are in the process. Please take this opportunity to participate in the Q & A which will commence shortly after the 9:00 AM service.

6. On August 31 we will have ONE SERVICE at 11:00 AM, followed by our famous Bro-B-Q at the SDA facility.

We seek your prayers and support as we move forward to accomplish all the goals above.

Stay abreast of Hutch's hunt for a home here. (And see you at the Bro-B-Q on August 31!)

(Out-of-towners/under-rockers craving context can find some good Hutch history here, here, and here.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on August 15 at 9:08 AM

West Virginia:


A grand jury has indicted a youth pastor of an upper Kanawha Valley church for allegedly sexually abusing a former student of the church's affiliated school.... The indictment does not give many specifics except that Timothy C. Edmonds "did engage in or attempt to engage in an act of sexual intercourse with ... Angel Green ... while [she] ... was in the care, custody and control of [Edmonds]." ...

In an interview conducted by Trooper L.G. O'Bryan of the West Virginia State Police, records show Green, now 18, said on several occasions she'd been alone with Edmonds for long periods of time.... During these times alone, Edmonds would ask her to wear pantyhose, and would take pictures with her "dress pulled up and wearing the pantyhose in a sexually explicit position." On at least one occasion, Green alleged she and Edmonds were lying on the floor and he rubbed his penis against her while she was wearing pantyhose.

In addition to being an alleged student-abusing panty-hose fetishist, Mr. Edmonds is also, according to another report in the West Virginia Record, a deadbeat dad.


YPWJoshPonder.jpg A Kaufman County youth minister has been arrested after being accused of sexual assault of a child.

Joshua Neal Ponder, 32, was arrested last Friday in Mabank after a 16-year-old member of his congregation alleged that he was sexually assaulted by the man.

"The Mabank Police Department is continuing their investigative efforts to discover if there are any additional victims," said Mabank Chief Kyle McAfee.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on August 13 at 2:00 PM


A former teacher at the North Coast Christian School in Hammond has been accused of having sex with a 15-year-old student.

Warrenton Police officers arrested Jeremiah Gunner Scott, 26, of Warrenton. He was also a youth pastor for Warrenton First Baptist Church.

Scott is charged with eight counts of third-degree rape, a felony, and one count each of third-degree sodomy, a felony, contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor and sexual misconduct.

I'm confused: The Supreme Court declared anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional—so how can sodomy be a felony? With at least three degrees? I mean, if the dude fucked the 15 year-old, then he's guilty of statutory rape, for sure. But how can he be found convicted for sodomy when sodomy isn't a crime anymore, per the Supreme Court. Any lawyers out there with all the answers?

And, again, parents that let their kids hang out in churches are fucking crazy. Might as well dip 'em in fish guts and toss them into shark-infested waters.

Youth Pastor Watch: The Sanctity of Marriage Edition

posted by on August 13 at 9:24 AM



A Maryville church has closed it's doors indefinitely after a married couple, who are youth ministers at the church, are charged with sex crimes.

Michael Salazar, 35, is charged with three counts of sexual battery by an authority figure, and three counts of statutory rape by an authority figure. Laura Lee Click Salazar, 35, is charged with one count of sexual battery by an authority figure, and one count of statutory rape by an authority figure.

Maryville Police Cheif Tony Crisp says this investigation began on Aug. 15 when three teen girls, their parents, and their youth pastor, accused the Salazar's of sexual misconduct. That's when officials conducted an official investigation interviewing 14 girls who say the Salazars took part in individual sex acts beginning in September 2007.

At the church, there is a note on the door saying they're closed until further notice.

Jesus Christ. It astounds me that parents will let their children go to church at all. Seriously.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Praying for Rain

posted by on August 12 at 2:11 PM

Conservative Christians are urging their followers to pray for rain—not for drought-ridden sections of the world, not for places people are starving as crops fail, or in parrts of the world where there isn't enough fresh water to drink. Nope. They want it to rain in Denver, Colorado, during Obama's acceptance speech.


I noticed he didn't ask for "hail the size of canned hams." Hmm... that would canned-ham-sized hail stones dropped from great heights. He must be a reader of mine.

Go In Peace To Love and...What's My Line?

posted by on August 12 at 12:00 PM

Hulk like little boys! Photo from an Adherents discussion about which superheroes are Catholic.

I went to Catholic church every week of my life up till the day I turned 18. Now I only go when I visit my parents back in Maine, although I try to arrange my visits so that they don't fall on weekends because I hate mass so much. Still, I feel kind of a sentimental pang at this news:

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Aug. 4 released the official text of a new English-language translation to the Roman Catholic Mass. It's the first time the Mass will change since the 1960s — though the changes will not take effect for a few years.

A couple of changes: The response to "The Lord be with you," which used to be "And also with you," is now "And with your spirit." And instead of saying "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed," Catholics will say "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed." And "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again" has been removed from the ceremony altogether.

And also: "Let your Spirit come upon these gifts, to make them holy" has been replaced with "Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall."

This is all very weird—leave it to the Catholic church to adopt more flowery and emotionally distant language when other religions are trying to become more accessible—but at the same time, I'm glad that in a few years I won't be able to recite the proper responses to these calls. It makes me even less of a Catholic.

Youth Pastor Watch: Brian Neiswender Update

posted by on August 12 at 8:56 AM

Youth pastor and accused serial groper Brian Neiswender's supporters—who argue that Neiswender must be innocent because he's simply too good and his accusers are too ugly to molest—insisted that I keep everyone posted about the details of his case as it unfolded. Neiswender's previous appearances in YPW are here, here, and here. Now for the latest on Neiswender's case we go to Edward Lewis at the Times Leader...

The two women, and a third woman, now all 18 years old, testified during Neiswender’s preliminary hearing in Central Court on Monday on three counts of indecent assault and corruption of minors that were filed by Kingston police Capt. John Jorda.

After nearly two hours of testimony, District Judge Joseph Zola forwarded the charges to Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas....

The three women said Neiswender would place his hands on their chest during a game called “Crogs,” a hide-and-go-seek game that is played in the dark, or during guitar or piano lessons. “Brian would be walking by and put his hands on my chest. It happened quite a few times,” one of the women testified....

On questioning by Neiswender’s attorneys, Nanda Palissery and Nicole Bednarek, the women separately said they continued to attend church functions and music lessons with Neiswender. They all said they initially believed the inappropriate contacts were accidents, but as it continued, they learned about each other’s complaints....

Two of the three women said other youth pastors at the church were aware of the alleged improper contact involving Neiswender.

The last detail is important: Other youth pastors at Christ Community Church in Kingston, Pennsylvania, were aware of the "improper contact"—the criminal acts—of their fellow youth pastor and did not report it to police which, in most states, is required by law. So it seems that Neiswender isn't the only problematic youth pastor at Christ Community Church—which might explain why someone in Kingston saw fit to commit a hateful act of "vandalism" against Christ Community Church, which we reported yesterday. A sign reading "We Welcome Child Mole Sters" was taped over the usual "message about Jesus" that appears on the sign outside Christ Community Church.

It seems odd that the Kingston police are searching for the person or persons who taped that note to the Christ Community Church's sign—the note was quickly removed and caused no permanent damage—and not rounding up the other youth pastors at Christ Community Church that may have known of Neiswender's actions and did not report him to the police.

I believe the community has a right to know if, indeed, child mole sters are welcome at Christ Community Church.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Youth Pastor Watch: Brian Neiswender Update

posted by on August 11 at 9:15 AM

Brian Neiswender, whose supporters made a promise to keep YPW readers updated on their youth pastor's case, was in the news again this weekend. Or I should say the church where Neiswender worked when he allegedly fondled girls during games of hide-and-seek in a darkened church basement is in the news.


A church in Kingston is the site of some hateful vandalism. Police are now searching for whoever posted a note at a house of worship.

It comes after a former youth pastor at the Christ Community Church in Kingston was charged with fondling girls. The pastor at Christ Community Church said he was shocked and hurt to find a note on his church sign Thursday morning.

The usual sign in front of the church in Kingston is a message about Jesus. Thursday morning there were more hateful words there. Hand-written papers were taped to the sign that read, "We welcome child molesters."

"I thought it was terrible. There was no purpose for doing anything like that," said Pastor John Butch.

Police said the note was no doubt in reference to Brian Neiswender, a former youth pastor at Christ Community Church. Neiswender was arrested and charged in June with inappropriately touching two girls at the church.

It seems that at least one person in Kingston refuses to take youth pastor criminality lying down—or take it stumbling around a dark church basement, for that matter.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Mercury on Scientology

posted by on August 8 at 1:09 PM


Our sister paper the Portland Mercury has a nice piece this week about the marketing of Scientology. The story is about an ex-Scientologist living in Portland who claims to be the man behind the rise of Dianetics in the 70s and to have been physically beaten by David Miscavige on several occasions. The Mercury got a 14-page letter from the church's international spokesperson and even a phone call from that person's boss denouncing this guy, so they must have touched a nerve.

And they have a great map of the "Sea Org" headquarters with notes like "The lake is used to throw staff in as punishment."

I love this shit. Stupid Scientology.

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on August 8 at 11:30 AM



A trusted church member is accused of crossing the line with two young girls.

The former youth minister at Ardmore's First Baptist Church, Carl Thomas, was charged with two counts of solicitation of a minor after allegedly exchanging some racy text messages with underaged girls.

"He had been sending text messages to two of the 14-year-old girls of a sexual content," said Limestone County Lt. Joel Massey.


News that a popular youth minister had been charged with predatory criminal sexual assault brought the pastor of the church where he worked to tears. Terrence Jenkins, 36, of 4318 Walnut Ave. in Alorton, was charged July 23 with predatory criminal sexual assault.

The mother of the 8-year-old victim went to East St. Louis police and filed a complaint against Jenkins in December.


New youth pastor has BMX skills, passion for children

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Losing Her Religion

posted by on August 7 at 10:20 AM


From the LA Times:

Opening arguments were set for Thursday in a civil lawsuit that accuses Victoria Osteen of assaulting Continental Airlines flight attendant Sharon Brown before the start of a 2005 flight from Houston to Vail, Colo.

Victoria Osteen is co-pastor at Lakewood Church, where her husband, Joel Osteen, preaches and where about 42,000 people flock each week. Joel Osteen's weekly television address is broadcast nationally and internationally.

[Continental Airlines flight attendant Sharon Brown] alleges Victoria Osteen threw her against a bathroom door and elbowed her in the left breast during an outburst over a stain on her first-class seat. The Federal Aviation Administration fined Victoria Osteen $3,000 for interfering with a crew member.

The best part?

Brown claims that she suffers from anxiety and hemorrhoids because of the incident involving Victoria Osteen and said her faith was affected.

Let's hope Ms. Brown wins because her "faith was affected." Then those of us who were raised Christian can start a class-action suit against all of the snake-oil theologians.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

O They Will Know We Are Christians...

posted by on August 6 at 9:54 AM our biker gangs.

Officers arrested eight members of an Anaheim biker gang and charged them with attempted murder this morning as part of an ongoing operation, authorities said.

The charges stem from a fight last week at a Newport Beach bar between two biker gangs, said Anaheim police Sgt. Tim Schmidt. The group arrested this morning are members of a Christian biker gang named Set Free Soldiers, and the victims are members of the Hells Angels, Schmidt said.

The operation, which included SWAT teams, began about 5 a.m. today, Schmidt said. No injuries were reported, Schmidt said, adding that officers served 11 warrants, all on attempted murder charges.

Thanks to Slog tipper Brian.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Youth Pastor Watch: Brian Neiswender Update

posted by on August 5 at 9:32 AM

Brian Andrew Neiswender made his first appearance in YPW back at the beginning of June. That appearance wasn't particularly noteworthy and the crimes he's accused of committing don't come anywhere near the worst ones we've seen here at YPW. No one was murdered, no videotapes were made, no sex was had in vans in church parking lots. What was interesting about Neiswender's YPW appearance was the action in the comments. Supporters of Neiswender found their way to Slog and argued that their youth pastor couldn't have done anything wrong because...

Neiswender is too good...

He is a Godly man with a heart for Christ whose primary concern is teaching teens about God and His love. He has inspired me and many others at our church so much and I feel our youth ministry has grown and prospered because of his commitment to doing God's will. Funny how Satan has to find some way to slip in when a person of God is furthering the kingdom at such a rapid pace.

His accusers are liars...

I KNOW that he is completely matter what anyone says about this story. These girls should come out with the truth!..which their story is far from it! These girls have admitted to lying about this kind of stuff before with him because they had a crush on him.

His accusers are ugly liars, and Neiswender's wife is hot...

have you seen these girls? not exactly the prettiest girls in the world. kinda gross. his wife is beautiful, and she was very involved with this youth group as well. it's sad that people are so into ruining lives.

And the fact that Neiswender called the girls and apologized to them, an alleged admission of guilt that the police got on tape? Why, that's just more proof of Neiswender's essential goodness and of his innocence...

Okay, i have been reading over and over that just because he called the girls and appoligised (dont correct my spelling) that he is guilty!!! That is not true. I know Brian if he thinks that he has upset you then he will call and say that he is sorry, even if he did not do anything.

One of Neiswender's supporters challenged us to follow this story closely...

I hope (but my hope is in vain) that when he is proven innocent of all charges that you will run another story giving the facts. As I know the media and bloggers like to give opinons on issues, that facts are skiewed or false, so I unfortunatly realize that you will not run the true story.... I hope you will follow this through and report on the final outcome on his story and the story of the girls, who you just assume to be true and upstanding people.

I promised Neiswender's supporters that I would closely follow this case and bring regular updates to YPW readers. And, hey, if charges are dropped or if Neiswender is exonerated, we will run an update, just as we did in the case of Clayton Pruett. YPW is fair and balanced. But sadly—or satanically?—our first Neiswender update brings more bad news for Neiswender, Neiswender's hot wife, and Neiswender's spell-check-challenged supporters.

Police file more charges against ex-youth pastor

KINGSTON—A former youth pastor at a Kingston church, charged with taking advantange of teens he was mentoring, faces additional charges.

Brian Andrew Neiswender, 26, was charged Friday with indecent assault and corruption of minors and arraigned Friday afternoon before District Judge Paul Roberts. He was released on $25,000 unsecured bail.

Neiswender is still listed as pastor of student ministries at Heritage Baptist Church in Lakeland, Florida.

Monday, August 4, 2008

He's Not a Youth Pastor...

posted by on August 4 at 4:10 PM

...but we're going to make an exception. Pastor breaks into a woman's home and steals "a sex toy." Scott Murray is "under arrest, his congregation in disbelief." According to this report, everyone is praying for everyone during this sad time.

China Today

posted by on August 4 at 3:57 PM

Though old news, it still has value:

In China... the government has introduced laws banning Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission.

Starting next month, the State Administration for Religious Affairs will begin instituting stipulations regarding "the procedures by which one is to reincarnate." It will be illegal "to identify the child reincarnation of the Dalai Lama" without the approval of Chinese authorities. Quite a shift, given Beijing's official atheism. But is the move totalitarian mumbo-jumbo or could there political motivations?

This news item moves us that much closer to an adequate understanding of the kind of government that's about to host the most spectacular sporting event on the only life-thriving planet in our solar system.


posted by on August 4 at 3:00 PM

Holy Taco has a collection of "Church Signs That Won't Make You Go To Church." A few of them have been floating around the internet for a while now, but there are probably some you haven't seen before.

Some of them are unintentionally dirty:


Some are unintentionally hilarious:


And some are just frightening:


You should check it out.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on July 30 at 10:03 AM


hollandMcdowellYPW.jpgA former Camarillo youth minister, Markus "Mark" Holland McDowell, will be sentenced on Oct. 14 after he pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of molesting a minor victim and two counts of digital penetration, said prosecutor Gilbert Romero....

According to the Sheriff's Department, McDowell met the girls through a youth ministry program at Camarillo Church of Christ, where he had served as a youth minister.... McDowell also taught religion courses at Westmont College and Pepperdine University, according to officials at the two institutions.

McDowell was a full-time lecturer and adjunct religious professor at Pepperdine University from 1996 to 2005, a spokeswoman for the university said after his arrest.


A 36-year-old Alorton resident who has ties to a youth ministry with a church in O'Fallon was charged July 23 with predatory criminal sexual assault.

Terrance Jenkins is being held in the St. Clair County Jail in lieu of $250,000. The offense Jenkins is charged with is a class X felony.... The offense Jenkins is charged with occurred in December 2007 in East St. Louis. The victim was 8 years old at the time, Johnson said.

Johnson said that as a youth minister Jenkins probably came in contact with other young people. If there are more victims, families are urged to call the East St. Louis Police Department.


bairdYPWjpg.jpg A former Pittsburgh-area youth minister has been sentenced to 25 to 50 years in prison for molesting three boys over several years. Forty-six-year-old David Baird, of West Deer, was convicted in May of raping two boys and assaulting a third by an Allegheny County jury.

One 14-year-old boy says Baird raped him. Another boy says Baird did the same to him over an eight-year period beginning when the boy was 10 years old.

Baird had been a youth minister at Covenant Church of Pittsburgh from January 1994 to August 2004


A signed statement tonight says that sex abuse allegations against a Bullitt county youth pastor were all made up.

The mother of the accuser signed that statement today, clearing the name of Pastor Clayton Pruett.... In the statement it says Debra Johnson’s complaints to police about Pruett abusing her daughter were false....

Over the weekend the board members at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church unanimously voted to give Pruett his duties back as youth pastor.

This is Pruett's third appearance in YPW. We brought you news of his arrest in December of 2007; updated you when charges against Pruett were dismissed in February of 2008 when a detective failed to appear at a hearing (but the sheriff's office vowed to continue its investigation; and today when Pruett was cleared. Let it never be said that Youth Pastor Watch isn't fair and balanced.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Like to Think These Make Attempts at Sexual Abuse Bounce Right Off

posted by on July 29 at 9:00 AM


Ladies and gentlemen, Armor of God PJs.

Thank you, Slog tipper Jonathan.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Job Opening: Critiquing Seattle's Most Irresponsible Talkers

posted by on July 28 at 4:25 PM

Remember these batshitcrazy sermons?

I was reminded of these batshit preachers and their batshit sermons—and the trouble they caused John McCain and Barack Obama—when I re-read an essay by George Eliot excerpted in The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever, an anthology edited by Christopher Hitchens. How on earth did Hagee and Parsley and Wright get away with saying such batshit stuff for so long? Eliot, writing in 1855, has the answer...

The preacher... has an immense advantage over all other public speakers. The platform orator is subject to the criticisms of hisses and groans. Counsel for the plaintiff expects the retort of counsel for the defendant. The honorable gentleman on one side of the House is liable to have his facts and figures shown up by honorable friend on the opposite side. Even the scientific or literary lecturer, if he is dull or incompetent, may see the best part of his audience slip quietly out one by one.

But the preacher is completely master of the situation: no one may hiss, no one may depart. Like the writer of imaginary conversations, he may put what imbecilities he pleases into the mouths of his antagonists, and swell with triumph when he has refuted them. He may riot in gratuitous assertions, confident that no man will contradict him; he may exercise perfect free-will in logic, and invent illustrative experience; he may give an evangelical edition of history with the inconvenient facts omitted—all this he may do with impunity, certain that those of his hearers who are not sympathizing are not listening. For the Press has no band of critics that go the round of the churches and chapels, and are on the watch for a slip or a defect in the preacher, to make a "feature" in their article: the clergy [therefore] are practically the most irresponsible of all talkers.

Think of the trouble Barack Obama and John McCain might have been spared if the Press actually sent critics round to churches and chapels, temples and mosques, and regularly published reviews of the sermons? Obama might have left Wright's church years before he decided to run for president; John McCain might never have sought Hagee's endorsement, or Parsley's counsel.

And for all we know all kinds of batshit pours forth from our pulpits every Sunday. With local religion "coverage" limited to limp homilies in the Seattle Times penned by area preachers, our clergy could be saying things every bit as shocking as Hagee or Wright and we'll never find out about it—well, not until one of their congregants decides to run for president.

To rectify the situation Slog seeks an informed, passionate critic excited about making the rounds of Seattle's churches and chapels, someone qualified to critique slips and defects, praise better efforts, and help make more responsible talkers out of our local clergy. If you feel you're the right person for this important freelance work, email me.

UPDATE: People of faith, agnostics, and atheists are all welcome to apply.

Praying Away the Pain

posted by on July 28 at 1:29 PM


And not just any pain, my favorite of them all: pain at the pump!

From the Associated Press:

Two prayer services will be held at St. Louis gas stations to thank God for lower fuel prices and to ask that they continue to drop. Darrell Alexander, Midwest co-chair of the Pray at the Pump movement, says prayer gatherings will be held Monday afternoon and evening at a Mobil station west of downtown St. Louis. Participants say they plan to buy gas, pray and then sing "We Shall Overcome" with a new verse, "We'll have lower gas prices." An activist from the Washington D.C. area, Rocky Twyman, started the effort, saying if politicians couldn't lower gas prices, it was time to ask God to intervene. The group thinks the prayer is helping, saying prices are starting to fall below $4 a gallon.

Thank God someone's doing something.

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on July 28 at 11:30 AM


byarsypw.jpgAfter spending the two weeks of a two-year sentence in the Knox County Jail for rape, former Dyersburg High School volunteer track coach Timothy Byars appeared in a courtroom here on Friday and entered a guilty plea for attempted sexual battery. The plea marks the end of a 20-month case, in which the former Spring Hill Baptist Church music and youth minister was accused of raping a 14-year-old girl before a Knoxville track meet in November 2006.


A former youth pastor accused of embezzling more than $68,000 from a McSherrystown church plans to take her case to trial. Katrina Wischmann, 40.... allegedly embezzled more than $68,000 from St. Paul's Lutheran Church, 414 Main St., while working as a youth pastor there for four years.


joshuarosaypw.jpgA jury convicted former youth minister Joshua Rosa of first-degree murder Monday in the strangulation of his 13-year-old neighbor. Within minutes, a judge sentenced the 22-year-old to life in prison.

Ron Tomlinson, the father of victim Stephen Tomlinson, shook and cried when the verdict was read. "I'm so glad this is over," he said. "I can move on now."


herschallsanderyw.jpg Former St. Helena High School coach Herschel Sandler was sentenced to nine months in the Napa County jail and five years probation Tuesday for two counts of oral copulation with two girls younger than 18 years of age 10 years ago....

Sandler coached the girls' varsity volleyball team at the high school and the boys' wrestling team at the high school and middle school between March 1995 and October 2007 when he resigned. He also was a youth pastor at St. Helena Catholic Church.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

O They Will Know We Are Christians...

posted by on July 24 at 9:29 AM the teenage girls we encourage to run away from home, get drunk, and rape.

The principal of a private school in Arlington has been charged with third-degree rape of a child.

Mark Evan Brown, 37, principal of Highland Christian School, was arraigned Wednesday.... According to charging papers, the story begins with Brown and a 14-year-old female student at the school exchanging hundreds of text messages and phone calls over the past three months. In some of those messages, Brown encouraged the girl to run away from home and promised to find her a place to stay if she did, according to charging papers.

On June 12, the girl took Brown up on his offer, prosecutors say. Brown prepared a little-used room at the school by putting a hide-a-bed and television in the room for her, prosecutors say. He arranged for somebody else to pick her up and bring her to the school, according to charging papers.

The next evening, Brown gave the girl rum and the two lay down together on the foldout bed, according to charging papers. Sexual contact followed, prosecutors say.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dobson Waffles on McCain, Fantasies of Internecine Religious-Right Warfare Begin to Fade

posted by on July 21 at 2:19 PM


Conservative Christian leader James Dobson softened his stance against Republican presidential hopeful John McCain on Monday, saying he could reverse his position and endorse the Arizona senator despite the candidate’s support of embryonic stem cell research and opposition to a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Which is a goddamned shame. As I've written before, I'm wishing and praying this is the year that the evangelical right shatters into a thousand pieces—some defecting to Obama; some staying home; some voting for a faction-splitting, born-again equivalent of Ralph Nader; some caving and voting for McCain, thereby driving a wedge between themselves and the crazier members of their churches.

I want to see Fred Phelps picketing James Dobson. I want to see Richard Land demoted to Sunday-school teacher. I want civil war in the Southern Baptist Convention.

I don't want to see Dobson showing a lick of political common sense and slithering over towards McCain.

But there's still hope: If McCain chooses Romney (which is looking more and more likely), maybe all-Christian-hell will finally break loose.

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on July 21 at 11:04 AM


16921288.jpgA youth minister and magician who claims he has performed at a long list of metro Atlanta schools was arrested Thursday and charged with child molestation. Jeffrey Alan Wasley, 37, is accused of molesting a 7-year-old boy Monday in the men's restroom of the Target store at 740 Ernest Barrett Parkway in Kennesaw....

Police arrested Wasley Thursday night at the home he shares with his wife and two children on Carrie Trace in Kennesaw. According to the police booking report Wasley works at Calvary Jesus Church. On the church's Web site he is listed as director of children's ministries.

Wasley works as a magician under the name Magic Jeff. On his Web site,, he claims he has performed at Six Flags, Cub Scout troops, Home Depot and a long list of local schools.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on July 18 at 10:15 AM

A former Mansfield youth pastor was arrested Thursday on 10 sex-related felonies reportedly involving a teenage parishioner.

John Picard
, 40, of Springboro, was charged with 10 counts of sexual battery, all third-degree felonies. He is accused of having sexual relations with a girl starting in 1992 when she was 13 and continuing until she reached adulthood. Picard was a youth pastor at Grace Brethren Church on Marion Avenue at the time.

Police said they think there are other victims.

“He’s probably one of the most despicable pedophiles that there can be,” Mansfield police Lt. Allen Vandayburg said. “It’s a sad, sad state of affairs when somebody of trust can’t be trusted.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Youth Pastor Watch

posted by on July 16 at 11:30 AM


rosayouthpastor.jpgJury selection begins Monday morning the trial of a youth minister charged with beating a teenager to death. Joshua Rosa is accused of murdering 13-year-old Stephen Tomlinson more than two years ago. Tomlinson’s body was found at Logan Gate Park, just a few blocks away from his home.

Rosa, 22, worked as a youth minister at the Zion Pentecostal Church. Tomlinson’s father, Ron Tomlinson, has filed a civil lawsuit against the church claiming it failed to properly supervise Rosa with his son.


An Oklahoma baptist church has insisted it will proceed with its controversial plan to give away an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle during a youth conference—a move described as "a way of trying to encourage young people to attend the event," according to local Koko 5 news.

Windsor Hills Baptist apparently has a history of worshipping God through firepower, and last year ran a shooting competition as part of its annual shindig. This year, it reportedly shelled out $800 for said trophy semi, but the church’s youth pastor, Bob Ross, claimed the main thrust of the conference wasn't about guns but rather "teens finding faith."


A former youth pastor accused of secretly taping Bible study students changing clothes in his Ellenton home has pleaded no contest to nine counts of voyeurism. Matthew C. Porter, 31, of Ellenton, is scheduled be sentenced on the misdemeanor charges at the Manatee County Judicial Center on Aug. 21.

More details on Matthew C. Porter's case can be found in this earlier report:

One hidden camera in the pastor's bathroom was disguised as an air freshener, authorities say. Another camera in a bedroom was concealed by a radio.

Matthew C. Porter, a former youth pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Bradenton, reportedly told Manatee County sheriff's detectives he secretly taped Bible study students in his home in Ellenton. The victims range in age from 12 to 16.

New York:

Ryan Drumsta, then 16, spent nearly two months recovering from the stomach wound caused by a deer slug his brother fired from a shotgun after they wrestled in the family’s kitchen Nov. 24.

Meanwhile, Nick, 19, was locked away in the Erie County Holding Center on an attempted murder charge....[Ryan] is slowly regaining his health, though he faces “at least one more surgery,” said his mother, Linda. Ryan felt well enough to go for a dirt-bike ride with his youth pastor over the weekend, his mother said.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Who Would Jesus Flog? (Himself.)

posted by on July 14 at 2:05 PM

I'd love to be a fly on the wall at the meetings where evangelicals try to figure out how they're going to condemn BDSM. Not just to watch prudish ideologues squirm while they contemplate The Horror of Sexual Deviance, but also to watch their intellectual contortions as they leaf through their Bibles, trying to figure out what it has to say about kink. There just aren't any theological grounds against people tying each other up, calling each other names, and pissing on each other's heads.

They know it doesn't seem very Christian, but they don't know why.

So when British evangelicals (of Christian Action Research and Education) try to make hay out of Max Mosley's "sadomasochism party" and say they condemn BDSM because it creates "unconstructive" relationships based on "the dominion of one person over another"—well, that's just comedy.

Because Christians, with all their Biblical injunctions about wives being submissive to husbands—I'm looking at you, Mars Hill—can't stand the idea of a relationship based on domination.

Nor can they stomach people fetishizing protracted scenes of suffering and humiliation.


Nope. They don't like that stuff one bit.

(See the full story—in which the BBC tries to explain BDSM to the grannies of Great Britain—here).