The Church Around the Corner: Offbeat religion stories

The Church Around The Corner is a compendium of blurbs and links to offbeat religion-related stories you may have missed — on purpose or otherwise. It’s meant as a light-hearted departure from the topics usually covered in Religion News Blog.

Read or save these stories while you can. Some sites may require either free registration or a paid subscription. If you can not find the full stories online, check the archives of the sites indicated. Alternatively, see if can read the item at archive.org or by using Google’s cache.

Pastor jailed for invoking God’s wrath

A community activist who ran for Congress from prison, where he had been sent for warning that a judge could be tortured by God, can post bond while he appeals his conviction, an appeals court has ruled. After being convicted and sentenced to probation in 2007 for paying people to vote in a Benton Harbor recall election, Edward Pinkney wrote an article in a small Chicago newspaper saying the judge who handled the case could be punished by God with curses, fever and “extreme burning” unless he changed his ways. Another judge considered the article a threat and sentenced Pinkney to three to 10 years in prison for violating his probation. Pinkney, who says he’s a Baptist minister, and his attorneys say he was only paraphrasing some Bible verses from the book of Deuteronomy.

- Source: Pastor jailed for invoking God’s wrath, AP via MSNBC, Dec. 11, 2008

Muslim hate preacher claims ‘Christmas is the pathway to hell’

A Muslim lawyer has launched an extraordinary rant against Christmas, branding the celebration ‘evil’. Hate preacher Anjem Choudary claimed the festival was the ‘pathway to hell’ and urged his followers to boycott it. ‘In the world today many Muslims, especially those residing in Western countries, are exposed to the evil celebration Christmas,’ he raged in a sermon broadcast on the internet. … ‘Decorating the house, purchasing Christmas trees or having Christmas turkey meals are completely prohibited by Allah. … ‘Every Muslim has a responsibility to protect his family from the misguidance of Christmas, because its observance will lead to hellfire. ‘Protect your Paradise from being taken away – protect yourself and your family from Christmas.’

New Capitol display sought with Santa “hell” warning

A Kansas-based church that has blamed deaths in Iraq on U.S. tolerance of homosexuality has asked Gov. Christine Gregoire’s office to approve a “Santa Claus will take you to hell” message to display among other religious statements in the Capitol’s third-floor hallway. The Westboro Baptist Church‘s message would be near a Nativity set, three signs mocking atheism, and an atheists’ sign that celebrates the winter solstice, while also taking a shot at religion as “myth and superstition” that enslaves minds, all in the state Capitol’s third-floor hallway.

- Source: New Capitol display sought with Santa “hell” warning, Seattle Times, Dec. 12, 2008

Teacher banned over Santa blunder

A teacher has been banned from a primary school after telling children Father Christmas does not exist. The female supply teacher told pupils at Blackshaw Lane Primary in Royton, Oldham, that it was parents, not Santa, who left their gifts on Christmas Day.

- Source: Teacher banned over Santa blunder , BBC, Dec. 11, 2008>

Man says God ordered him to ram vehicle

A man who rammed his truck into a woman’s vehicle on a highway early Friday told authorities he crashed into her while going more than 100 mph because God told him “she needed to be taken off the road.”

- Source: Man says God ordered him to ram vehicle, AP via MSNBC, Dec. 1, 2008

Nude Virgin Mary cover prompts Playboy apology

A nude model resembling the Virgin Mary on the cover of the Mexican edition of Playboy magazine, published only days before a major Mexican festival dedicated to the mother of Jesus, prompted the company’s U.S. headquarters on Friday to apologize.

- Source: Nude Virgin Mary cover prompts Playboy apology, Reuters, Dec. 16, 2008

Virgin Mary appears woman’s brain scan

A 42-year-old woman without insurance and mounting medical bills plans to sell an MRI scan of her brain in which the image of the Virgin Mary seems to appear. … Having seen where other supposed images of Mary or other religious icons were sold for thousands of dollars, Latrimore plans to post the MRI scan on eBay, the online auction site.

Bidding for ‘Virgin Mary’ brain scan tops $700

Without insurance, Latrimore has racked up tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills she and her contractor husband cannot afford. She plans to pay off some of those bills with whatever money comes from the sale of the Virgin Mary MRI. The eBay auction ends Tuesday. The item number on eBay.com is 250338773378.

- Source: Bidding for ‘Virgin Mary’ brain scan tops $700, TCPalm.com, Dec. 15, 2008

Dante banned from selling soul on eBay

A musician fed up with his life was today barred from selling his soul to the highest bidder. Dante Knoxx, 24, offered the “used” item for a starting bid of £25,000.50 or a buy it now price of £700,000 on the internet auction site eBay. But eBay pulled the listing today with about two hours to go and no bids because it breached one of the firm’s policies. “You cannot sell anything that is not physical,” said Mr Knoxx.

- Source: Dante banned from selling soul on eBay, Independent, Dec. 15, 2008

Christian Nymphos, a website celebrating love of sex among married Christian couples, is hit with wives

A website celebrating love of sex among married Christian couples has proved a hit with wives. The saucy ‘sex bible’ invites married and engaged Christian women to browse through categories ranging from orgasms and oral sex to biblical studies and pregnancy and motherhood. Christian Nymphos say that while a Nymphomaniac is defined as someone who has “excessive sexual desire” these women only have desire for their husbands and that this is a healthy sign that should be promoted. … But while Christian Nymphos promotes sexual relations among married couples, they do not promote activities such as masturbation, and pornography is frowned upon unless the characters are shown to be “married”.

Pastor gets probation after stealing sex toy

A former part-time pastor at a Haywood County church pleaded guilty on Monday to stealing a woman’s sex toy, a bottle of lubricant and a pair of her panties. […] Murray’s church work had included visiting people in hospitals and checking on members who hadn’t been to church recently, New Covenant senior pastor Nick Honerkamp said after Murray’s arrest.

- Source: Sex toy thief gets probation, Citizen-Times, Dec. 16, 2008

Bishop attacks use of “ridiculous” Christian names

An Italian bishop has called on parents to stop giving their children “ridiculous” names and revert to traditional Christian names instead. Monsignor Bassano Staffieri, retired bishop of La Spezia in Liguria, said that of the 500 girls born in the city this year, “not one was registered or baptised with the name Maria”. He added.”A name is not just a sound, it has a profound meaning.” Mothers and fathers “should return to using a name like Maria, which is inspired by the Virgin Mary”, instead of opting for “exotic or strange names of which their children will later be ashamed”, the bishop said. There were signs that parents were reverting to traditional names for boys, “but this is still not the case with baby girls, alas”. He said the reason was not so much that Italian families were abandoning the Catholic faith but rather that they did not give enough thought to baptismal names. “The problem is they do not think about what they are doing”.

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