Religion News Blog Roundup for Feb. 20, 2008

“RNB Roundup” is a collection of clippings, snippets, links, commentary and other items that, in one way or another, relate to the topics normally covered in Religion News Blog.

Note: This page may grow throughout the day€¦ Too, linked items may be online for a limited time only. Get them while they’re hot.


Sex

The evolution of a headline
A recent RNB Roundup included an item titled: Florida Pastor Issues 30-Day Sex Challenge for Congregation
Not surpringly, the story has been covered ad-infinitum by countless media outlets.
It is always interesting to see how stories grow from one thing into another — merely by noting the changes in the headlines:
• Pastor Touts Sex for Married Congregants (AP, USA)
• Thou shalt do it everyday, pastor says (Chicago Sun Times, USA)
• Florida church poses sexy challenge to members (Xinhua, China)
• Church Encourages Members To Have More Sex (WESH, USA)
• Church Urges “Sexy Time” Among Members (KPTM)
• Have sex daily, church orders (News24, South Africa)
• SW Fla. church preaches sex every day (Florida Today, USA)
• Thou Shalt Canoodle, Church Says (Tampa Tribune, USA)
• Church Urges Hanky Panky Among Members (AP, USA)
From 30 days of, er, non-stop sex it is but a small jump to this:
The Joy of Christian Sex Toys

Joy Wilson went looking for something to spice up her marriage without compromising her Christian beliefs.

Finding nothing, she founded her own “sin-free” sex toy business. Book22.com caters to the Christian community with books, toys and occasional advice. The name refers to the Song of Solomon, the extended love poem that forms the 22nd book of the Bible.

Wilson says that after the birth of her first child, she had trouble rekindling her desire for intimacy. She and her husband went looking for marital aids, and found that Internet searches for products as tame as massage oil led to sites with pornographic images. “I was really surprised that it was that bad,” she says.

She and her husband talked it over and decided that there must be a way for conservative people to add a spark to their romantic lives. She says their site steers clear of certain types of sexual activity that they believe are unholy. And they carefully consider which new products to add.

“We pray about things before we add them to our site,” she says. “We live our lives very openly in front of Jesus, so we just kind of pray for direction about which way he would have us go, and I have to be honest with you €” he’s really surprised us. … Almost our whole entire ‘special order’ page has come about from that.”
Source

It’s not the first time Book22.com has made the news. This July, 6, 2006 New York Times article mentions it alongside several similar websites.

Scientology

Scientology Celebrity Center Relationship Map

The Church of Scientology uses celebrity spokesmen to endorse L. Ron Hubbard‘s teachings and give Scientology greater acceptability in mainstream America. As far back as 1955, Hubbard recognized the value of famous people to his fledgling, off-beat church when he inaugurated €˜Project Celebrity.’ According to Hubbard, Scientologists should target prominent individuals as their “quarry” and bring them back like trophies for Scientology. [€¦] Celebrities are considered so important to the movement’s expansion that the church created a special office to guide their careers and ensure their €˜correct utilization’ for Scientology. The church has a special branch that ministers to prominent individuals, providing them with first-class treatment. Its headquarters, called Celebrity Centre International, is housed in a magnificent old turreted mansion on Franklin Avenue, overlooking the Hollywood Freeway.
Source

Here is an interactive map showing the relationships between various Scientology victims, er, followers.



No Brains, Please…

Christians usually ask someone to give his heart to Jesus. Why the heart? Because so often the brain turns out to be defective. Like so:
Referee ejected from game

Michelle Campbell, a high school basketball official in Kansas, was “dumbfounded” to learn she would not be allowed to ply her trade in a game last week because she was a woman.

The Kansas City Star reported that an official for St. Mary’s Academy, a private school north of Topeka, said he could not allow a woman to be put in a position of authority over boys as it was contrary to the beliefs of the school.

Father Vicente A. Griego, the school’s principal, was on a retreat and could not be reached for comment, according to the Star, leaving burning questions unanswered such as “How does the sound of President Hillary Clinton strike you?”

“I was upset,” Darin Putthoff, Campbell’s fellow ref, told the Star. “So I said, ‘You’re telling me you don’t have any teachers at the school who are women?’ ”

The answer was yes, but Father Griego was unavailable to say whether that’s considered a position of authority at St. Mary’s or whether male students just graded their own papers in those classes.
Source

And it’s not just Christians who stop using their brains:

The Kettle Moraine School District has apologized for confiscating an elementary school student’s valentines containing religious messages, seven years after it was sued for taking similar action.

Staff members at Wales Elementary School collected the valentines from the student Wednesday so administrators could review them, according to a news release from the district. Of concern was whether they violated a policy that prevents the distribution of materials that “seek to market, solicit money, recruit, indoctrinate or convert” in elementary schools, Superintendent Patricia Deklotz said.

The policy was adopted originally in August 2001, as part of the settlement agreement for a federal lawsuit filed after a Cushing Elementary School second-grader was told she couldn’t distribute Valentine’s Day cards with such sayings as “Jesus Loves You” and “Freely Rely on God.”

Deklotz, who was not with the district during that lawsuit, said she did not know precisely what the newest religious valentines said, except that they contained a Bible verse and religious message.
Source


Headlines that have us worried

There must be something they’re not telling us:

The Religion of Peace and Threats

secret papers reveal threats from Saudi prince
In-between praying five times a day, one can get up to lots of misschief:

Saudi Arabia’s rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted, according to court documents revealed yesterday.

Previously secret files describe how investigators were told they faced “another 7/7” and the loss of “British lives on British streets” if they pressed on with their inquiries and the Saudis carried out their threat to cut off intelligence.

Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, and son of the crown prince, was alleged in court to be the man behind the threats to hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists. He faces accusations that he himself took more than £1bn in secret payments from the arms company BAE.

He was accused in yesterday’s high court hearings of flying to London in December 2006 and uttering threats which made the prime minister, Tony Blair, force an end to the Serious Fraud Office investigation into bribery allegations involving Bandar and his family.
Source


Superstition

Psychic paid to evict council house ghost

British officials paid a psychic to exorcise a supposed poltergeist from state housing after the distressed occupants said otherwise they would leave and become homeless, a council official said on Tuesday.

Easington Council in County Durham said the family could not be persuaded to stay in the house, and that through paying half the psychic ghosthunter’s 120 pound ($235) fee they were saving money as otherwise they would have had to pay for emergency housing.
Source


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Feb. 20, 2008
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This post was last updated: Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 4:13 PM, Central European Time (CET)