RNB Quicklinks: How not to convert someome to Atheism, Easter and Christmas banned, Scientology slugfest and more…

RNB QuickLinks: a compendium of blurbs and links to, for the most part, religion-related stories you may have missed — be it on purpose or otherwise.

Ineffective conversion tactics

An atheist subjected a devout Christian woman to a “relentless” campaign of harassment in which he smeared dog faeces on her car and urinated on her doorstep.

Timothy Brown, of Edwin Avenue, Woodbridge, may seek medical help after a year-long bid to change Helen Watson’s religious beliefs.

Brown, 37, who is married and has a child, pleaded guilty at South East Magistrates’ Court in Ipswich yesterday to racially aggravated harassment between September 1, 2007, and September 10 this year.

His lawyer, Neil Saunders told magistrates: “It is utterly bizarre. He ought to see his doctor.”

The ordeal began in September last year after Mrs Watson had placed a religious fish sticker in her car.

After that point, she would regularly find that another sticker had been put on top of it with words such as “myth”, “deceived”, “sucker” and “fiction”, which she said were derogatory to her religious views.

Mrs Watson, of Barton Road, Woodbridge, decided not to do anything about it and hoped the problem would go away, but in August this year, Brown stepped up his campaign.

On several occasions, Mrs Watson came home to find that Brown had either smeared dog excrement on her car, allowed his dog to excrete on her lawn or had himself urinated on her property.

Man who threatened to behead women will lose his eye, police say

Russell Bowman, who calls himself an atheist, showed up with a large knife at an aparment and threatened to behead two women because they were Christians. Another resident hit him with the butt of a shotgun. Bowman was injured so severely, police say, that his eye was to be removed

Ray Boltz Comes Out

Ray Boltz, who sold about 4.5 million records before retiring from Christian music a few years ago, came out of the closet Friday to announce that he’s gay.

In an interview with the gay magazine The Washington Blade, Boltz said he came out to his family and some close friends in December 2004, but only now decided to go public with the news.

Sarah Palin’s religion could be imported into the UK

George Pitcher, Religion Editor of the Telegraph (UK) wonders, “Could the “religious right” of Republican running mate Sarah Palin be imported to Britain?”

I ask because the Christian think-tank Theos has just published research which shows that religious rhetoric is on the rise among British politicians.

Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent at The Times, says:

The analysis of conference speeches by party leaders over the past decade shows Britain increasingly following the lead set by the US in exploiting the religious sentiment of political believers.

Meanwhile in the States, Eric Gorski, religion writer for AP, reports:

Polls have yet to measure the Palin Effect on younger evangelical voters, whose shifting political allegiances put the demographic in play for both major-party presidential campaigns.

But a portrait emerges through interviews with more than a dozen pastors, authors and others who either belong to that generation or track it: Conservatives are energized much like their elders, progressives are unimpressed and many undecideds are gravitating toward McCain-Palin.

Scientology Battle

Since the Scientology cult tends to attract lots of negative press coverage (deservingly so), Scientologist frequently flood so-called Press Release services and other online forums with pro-Scientology pablum.

At Nolan Charts, a “public forum for commentary from all over the political map,” this practice has now evolved into a slugfest between cult members and Scientology critics.

Incidentally, here’s what you need to know about Scientology’s PR department.

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Holy Relics

Commerce in saints’ bits and pieces–long forbidden by the Catholic Church–is thriving.

Tyler Perry: From Misery to Mastery

Abused as a child, Tyler Perry (The Family That Preys) has overcome his troubled past to become one of Hollywood’s hottest names—all while remaining bold about his Christian faith.

He can’t make a studio pitch, he says, without some studio executive asking if he can drop at least some references to Jesus.

“These stars can make all the references in the world to Kabbalah or Scientology, and that’s just fine,” he says. “But mention Jesus Christ, and they don’t want to deal with you.”

He has stopped reading the entertainment sections of newspapers (and the largely critical reviews of his movies). He doesn’t want daily updates on ticket sales. He gets riled when analysts and studio executives wonder how a movie geared toward churchgoers or minorities could make money.

“I’m not sure why no one wants to admit there’s a viable audience out there that believes in God and wants to see a movie with their family. The demand is there. The supply is not.”

So Perry does his part on the supply side.

The musicians using their religion

“You don’t need a preacher for a father to break into the music business – but it helps,” writes Mark Edwards:

The only one who could ever reach Dusty Springfield, she told us back in 1969, was the son of a preacher man. As the hit single from her best album – Dusty in Memphis – it is the song that defines Springfield for most of us. It also hints at a wider truth: the importance of the offspring of preachers in modern music.

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Dusty Springfield – Son of a preacher man

Let’s just take a handful of the many artists who have covered Springfield’s hit: Aretha Franklin, Dolly Parton, Tina Turner and Jessica Simpson. It’s a disparate group – the queen of soul, a larger-than-life country legend, an unstoppable R&B dynamo and a manufactured pop star turned actress turned tabloid target. Guess what links them all together? Franklin’s father, the Reverend Clarence LaVaughn Franklin, was a Baptist preacher in Memphis, Buffalo and Detroit. Tina Turner’s father, Floyd Richard Bullock, was a Baptist deacon in Tennessee. Jessica (and Ashlee) Simpson’s father, Joe, used to be a Baptist minister at the Heights Baptist Church in Richardson, Texas. Parton only spoils the pattern by a generation – it was her grandfather who was a Pentecostal “holy roller” preacher.

The sons and daughters of preacher men can be found in every generation and genre of popular music.

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UK College bans easter and Christmas

A college has renamed the traditional Christmas and Easter breaks in a bid to avoid offending students from other religions.

The college’s new calendar shows that both of the traditional holiday periods have now been re-branded as ‘end of term breaks’.

Critics have complained that the decision by Yorkshire Coast College is nothing more than ‘political correctness’.

Tory MP Robert Goodwill said: ‘I have heard that some people refer to the Christmas period as the Winterval, which is worse. This is absolutely barmy.

‘We are a Christian country and, to be honest, religious tolerance in this country is about respecting other people’s religious beliefs.’

‘We live in a country where there is a mutual respect for religious beliefs.

‘School terms are traditionally separated by Christmas and Easter and they should be referred to as such.

‘They are petrified that they offend the minority but what they are doing is offending the majority.

‘It’s political correctness gone mad and I am disappointed that it’s from an edict from Ofsted.’

– Compiled by Anton Hein

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday September 16, 2008.
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