Sunday, September 25, 2005

Family Values: Quiz #8

Welcome to this week’s installment of Holier Than Thou, in which the President has ample reason to pray, religious conservatives just say “no” to drugs, the Vatican gets accused of aiding and abetting war crimes, and the Christian Right embraces its feel good hit of the summer.

So, how well have you been keeping abreast of the latest developments from the Religious Right? Sharpen your pencils and let’s find out. (ANSWERS BELOW)

1) President Bush declared this past September 16 as a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. So, just what was the president’s nephew John Ellis Bush (and son of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush) doing instead of praying and remembering?

A) Serving with the 101st Airborne unit in Tal Afar, Iraq.
B) Feeding the homeless and New Orleans hurricane evacuees at the Houston Rescue Mission.
C) Building temporary housing in Biloxi, Miss., with Habitat for Humanity.
D) Getting arrested on charges of public intoxication and resisting arrest in Austin, Texas.

While we’re on the subject, we just couldn’t resist. Match the Bush Family members with his/her criminal charges:
2) President George W. Bush
3) Presidential daughter Barbara Bush
4) Presidential daughter Jenna Bush
5) Presidential niece (and daughter of Florida Gov. Jeb Bush) Noelle Bush

A) Driving under the influence
B) Being a minor in possession of alcohol
C) Being a minor in possession of alcohol AND using a fake ID in an attempt to buy alcohol
D) Using a fraudulent prescription in an attempt to buy Xanax

6) What did Assistant U.S. Attorney General Peter Keisler recently rule as being “incompatible with the United States’ foreign policy interests”?

A) A civil lawsuit accusing Pope Benedict XVI of conspiring to cover up sexual abuse cases in Texas.
B) A Pentagon ruling that bars female officers from serving in Qatar from wearing Islamic headscarves in public.
C) A Venezuelan request to extradite Pat Robertson on charges of making a “terrorist” threat for calling for the assassination of that country’s president.
D) Putting a Christmas tree outside the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

7) According to a recent survey of 17,000 people in 17 countries by the Pew Research Center, which country has the most favorable views of Christians?

A) United States
B) Russia
C) China
D) Lebanon
E) India

8) What do Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri and South Dakota all have in common?

A) They each have “conscience clauses” on the books that allow pharmacists not to dispense medicines, like birth control pills, that they find morally objectionable.
B) They each have 10 Commandment displays outside of their state capitols.
C) They each have “In God We Trust” in their state motto.
D) No one wants to live there.

9) OK, we’ll give you the answer to the above question — each of those states have “conscience clauses” to allow pharmacists NOT to dispense medications including birth-control pills and emergency contraceptives. Leading this effort is a Christian-based group calling itself Pharmacists for Life International, which also wants to protect pharmacists from even REFERRING their patrons to other pharmacists who will fill their prescriptions. So, besides the aforementioned states, how many OTHER states have introduced similar “conscience clause” legislation?

A) 3
B) 5
C) 7
D) 13

10) What do Spokane, Wash., Portland, Ore., and Tucson, Ariz., have in common?

A) School districts in all three have been picketed by “Don’t Make a Monkey Out of Me!,” a radical group of “Intelligent Design” proponents.
B) The Catholic diocese in each city has claimed bankruptcy to protect its assets from recent sexual abuse lawsuit settlements.
C) The evangelical group “Wake Up and Smell the Jesus” has opened up Christian-themed coffee houses to compete against the secular Starbucks.
D) Pat Robertson has suggested “taking out” the mayors of each city for their support of abortion rights.
E) They are the last three cities in which the Pax TV network is still broadcast.

11) Lawyers for the Roman Catholic Church have asked a Federal judge to strike down WHAT California law as unconstitutional:

A) A law that suspends the statute of limitations to allow adults to sue institutions over their childhood sexual molestations.
B) A law that bars priests from claiming a tax-free status on their income from outside speaking arrangements.
C) A law that suspends the priest/parishioner “privilege” in cases involving suspected terrorist activity.
D) A law that will keep state-run offices open on Good Friday.

12) The chief prosecutor of the United Nations war crimes tribunal recently accused the Vatican of doing what?

A) Shredding thousands of documents detailing the church’s Nazi-era past.
B) Harboring a Croatian general accused of genocide in a network of Catholic monasteries.
C) Committing atrocities against children in 23 nations as part of the church’s sexual abuse scandal.
D) Turning a blind eye while hundreds of Muslims were slaughtered in a Kosovo “relocation camp.”

13) Which television show on the new fall schedule is being promoted as “faith in action” through a campaign where more than 7,000 DVDs have been sent directly to ministers and other members of the clergy?

A) ABC’s “Hope & Faith”
B) The WB’s “Related”
C) CBS’s “The Ghost Whisperer”
D) NBC’s “Three Wishes”
E) Fox’s “American Dad”

14) Which summer movie did conservative film critic and darling of the Christian Right Michael Medved say “most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing?”

A) “Just Like Heaven”
B) “The 40-Year Old Virgin”
C) “The Exorcism of Emily Rose”
D) “Serenity”
E) “March of the Penguins”


1) D: Getting Arrested
2) A: George and DUI
3) B: Barbara and being a minor in possession of alcohol
4) C: Jenna and possession plus using a fake ID
5) D: Noelle and using a fake prescription
6) A: A civil lawsuit against the Pope
7) B: Russia (Actually, the U.S. came in third behind Russia and No. 2 Lebanon)
8) A: They each have “conscience clauses”
9) D: 13 states
10) B: Dioceses declaring bankruptcy
11) A: Suspending the statue of limitations in molestation cases
12) B: Harboring a general wanted for war crimes
13) D: “Three Wishes”
14) E: “March of the Penguins” (Christian conservatives also maintain that the movie promotes the anti-abortion cause, as well as supports the theory of “Intelligent Design.”)

So, how well did you do?

14-10 Correct answers: We’re willing to bet you didn’t even know we just had a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance.

9 – 5 Correct answers: Did your “conscience clause” prevent you from studying for this week’s quiz?

0-4 Correct answers: Looks like you spent a bit too much time drinking with the Bush twins!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Your Tax Dollars At Work For the Lord: Quiz #7

Welcome to this week’s installment of Holier Than Thou, in which your tax dollars support the Evangelical cause, the Catholic Church looks for the homosexuals in its midst, America’s atheists provide us with a pledge break, and Pat Robertson goes crazy yet again.

How well have you been paying attention this week? Well, it’s time to sharpen up your pencils and find out. (ANSWERS BELOW)

1) Could President Bush’s “faith-based initiatives” be creeping into the Katrina relief effort? Seems the federal government, though FEMA, recently released a list of charities for Americans to donate to in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. And on that list, the group “Operation Blessing” was listed second to only The Red Cross. What evangelical Christian is the founder and chairman of Operation Blessing?

A) Billy Graham
B) Jerry Falwell
C) Pat Robertson
D) Jim Bakker
E) Robert Schuller

2) OK, we’ll give you the answer to the above question — it’s Pat “Take ‘Em Out” Robertson! Keep in mind that the good reverend is getting federal support after taking to the airwaves to suggest doing WHAT to the U.S. State Department?

A) Folding it into the Department of Homeland Security
B) Jailing former Secretary of State Colin Powell for treason
C) Purging it of Jews and Muslims
D) Blowing it up with a nuclear bomb

3) However, upon closer inspection, Pat does seem to know a thing or two about hurricanes. If you recall, it wasn’t that long ago that he warned the good citizens of Florida that God could send a killer storm to that state as punishment for the actions of WHAT group of people?

A) Gays
B) Abortionists
C) Human Secularists
D) Democrats voting for Al Gore
E) Employees at Disney World who were “dirty dancing” in Fantasy Land

4) But if Pat Robertson’s bizarre behavior isn’t enough to make the federal government think twice about funding Operation Blessing, the charity’s financial practices should be. According to its most recent filing with the IRS, Operating Blessing gave more than half its yearly allocation of cash donations — $885,000 — to WHAT organization?

A) Evangelicals Without Borders
B) The Terri Schivo Legal Defense Fund
C) The Pat Robertson-owned Christian Broadcasting Network
D) The George W. Bush 2004 reelection campaign

5) While we’re on the topic of federal funding of religious organizations, how much federal money has been given to “Silver Ring Thing,” a sexual abstinence program designed to keep teenagers from screwing their brains out by giving them each a ring inscribed with a religious slogan designed to inspire them to save themselves until marriage?

A) $1.3 million
B) $575,000
C) $75,000
D) Zero — despite an ongoing legal fight, funding the group would obviously violate the separation of church-and-state guidelines set forth by the U.S. Constitution.

6) What is the slogan inscribed on the Silver Ring Thing’s rings?

A) “My body is God’s Temple, and My Heart Belongs to Jesus”
B) “God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of sexual sin”
C) “Mary Was a Virgin Too”
D) “Just Say No to Sex”
E) “John 3:16”

7) Since 2003, how much federal money has gone to support what President Bush calls “armies of compassion,” but the rest of us simply call religious-run charitable groups?

A) Zero
B) $1 billion
C) $2 billion
D) $3 billion

8) President Bush’s blurring of the lines between church and state go all the way back to his days in Texas. In fact, while he was governor of that good state, what did George W. Bush proclaim April 17, 2000 to be?

A) Pat Robertson Day
B) Jesus Day
C) Pass the Collection Plate Day
D) Take Your Daughter to Church Day
E) God Bless the Houston Astros Day

9) Meanwhile, the Vatican has ordered each Roman Catholic seminary in America to be on the lookout for “evidence of homosexuality” among its students as part of the church’s response to sexual abuse scandal. According to Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, the American prelate overseeing this effort, should gay men who are celibate and never committed a homosexual act be allowed into the priesthood?

A) Yes
B) No

10) Estimates of the percentage of Catholic priests who are gay ranges from a low of 10 percent to as high as:

A) 20 percent
B) 40 percent
C) 60 percent
D) 80 percent

11) What ELSE is the church on the lookout for as it evaluates its seminary students?

A) A “peculiar” interest in children
B) Influences of “New Age” thinking
C) “Unwholesome forms of entertainment” (music and television)
D) A “history of financial troubles”
E) Illegal aliens and potential terrorists

12) Meanwhile, a federal judge in California rattled the cage of the Religious Right this week when he ruled that having public school children in the state recite the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional because it contained the words “one nation under God,” which he found to violate children’s right to be “free from a coercive requirement to affirm God.” The case will now likely be appealed all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. But for the record, just WHEN were the words “under God” added to the pledge anyway?

A) 1776
B) 1787
C) 1914
D) 1954
E) 1980

13) How did the Pledge read prior to the inclusion of the words “under God”?

A) “…one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
B) “…one nation, under law, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
C) “…one nation, governed by all, indivisible, with liberty and justice.”
D) “…one nation, under the Lord, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

14) What percentage of Americans claims no religious affiliation?

A) 32 percent
B) 25 percent
C) 14 percent
D) 4 percent

15) What percentage of Americans considers themselves to be Atheists?

A) 32 percent
B) 25 percent
C) 14 percent
D) 4 percent


1) C
2) D
3) A
4) C
5) A
6) B
7) D
8) B
9) B
10) C
11) B
12) D
13) A
14) C
15) D

So, how did you do?

11 to 15 correct answers: We’re willing to bet it’s been a long time since you’ve included the words “under God” in your Pledge of Allegiance.

6 to 10 correct answers: Perhaps it’s not too late to join the priesthood — just keep those New Age beliefs to yourself!

0 to 5 correct answers: So, just how much money did you give Operation Blessing, anyway?

I wanted to give thanks to Eddie Lin and Michael Schneider, who helped me through many of the technical challenges of launching this site. You should check out their own blogs, Eddie’s Deep End Dining (about some of the wilder food experiences ever encountered by man) and Michael’s Franklin Ave. (about all the hidden gems lurking within the City of Los Angeles).

Two other websites to note: The Huffington Post, for a great look at what's really going on in the world, and Harry Shearer's "Le Show," perhaps the funniest and most insightful thing on the radio today (and if were only on TV, it would be the funniest and most insightful thing on TV too!)

I’d also like to thank Robin Berger for her many wonderful news tips!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

A Place of Our Own: Quiz #6

Welcome to this week’s installment of “Holier Than Thou,” in which the Archdiocese of Los Angeles has a new reason to pray, the Pope takes a page out of a David E. Kelley script, and an evangelical group plans to overthrow the federal government because, after all, it’s what God wants them to do!

So, how well have you been paying attention this week? Sharpen your pencils and let’s find out! (ANSWERS BELOW)

1) Look out America, there’s a new threat on the horizon looking to overthrowing the federal government in the name of fundamentalist religious beliefs. No, not Al Qaeda, try Christian Exodus. Christian Exodus is a group of nearly 1,000 evangelicals devoted to creating a country where the law and government are based entirely on Biblical teachings — separation of church and state literally be damned. The group’s initial plans call for moving all of its current (and hopefully a horde of future) members to a single state in the union, which it then intends to take over at the ballot box — the first step in getting the whole country to follow God’s law. Which state have they singled out for takeover?

A) Rhode Island
B) Florida
C) Alaska
D) South Carolina
E) North Dakota

2) And if Christian Exodus manages to take over its own state, but fails to convince the United States Supreme Court to overturn its longstanding rulings that force the separation of church and state, what does the group plan to do next?

A) Everybody will return to their original homes
B) Have their state “secede from the union” and create their own country
C) The entire population will move to the small Caribbean nation of Nevis, and take over that island’s government
D) Pray for God to smite the infidels in Washington DC the way he did Sodom and Gomorrah

3) A bit closer to home, the Association of Christian Schools International, recently sued the University of California over what university policy?

A) Dispensing birth control pills at university-run student health centers
B) Requiring all incoming freshman to show vaccinations against tuberculosis, whooping cough and the German measles
C) Showing the film “The Last Temptation of Christ” on the campus at UC Santa Cruz
D) Discriminating against students applying for admission from Christian high schools that teach creationism instead of evolution

4) Florida officials recently suspended the licenses of two Faith Ministries-affiliated day care centers while they investigate allegations of sexual molestation by the centers’ director (and son of the affiliated church’s pastor) Joshua Palin. Among the allegations against Palin are that he directed the children, ages five years old to 14 years, to fondle him and to perform oral sex on each other while playing WHICH children’s game?

a) Truth or Dare
b) Spin the Bottle
c) I’ve Got a Secret
d) Hide and Seek
e) Doctor

5) They’re getting nervous in Los Angeles, where a judge ordered the release of depositions taken in the Catholic Church’s ongoing sexual abuse scandal. The judge ruled against Cardinal Roger Mahoney’s request to keep the testimony against his pedophile priests sealed, marking the first time such documents will be made public in Los Angeles. So, just how many civil suits are pending against the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles accusing the church of negligence in the sexual abuse scandal?

A) Less than 100
B) Between 100 and 200
C) Between 200 and 500
D) More than 500

6) Of course, the U.S. Catholic Church’s sexual abuse problems don’t stop in Los Angeles. They also stretch half way across the globe, thanks in no small part to U.S. Army. Capt. Gregory Arflack, a well-known Catholic military chaplain with the 1st Infantry Division who was recently featured in the Military Archdiocese documentary “Fight of Faith.” He is also, apparently, a pervert, who has been suspended by both the Army and his Catholic dioceses while the Army investigates several heinous charges against him related to activities performed while with the Army in Doha, Qatar, and Bamberg, Germany. Which of the following has he NOT been accused of?

A) Forcible Sodomy
B) Indecent Acts
C) Fraternization with Enlisted Service Members
D) Disobeying Orders
E) Indecent Assault
F) Assaulting an Officer
G) Conduct Unbecoming of an Officer

7) Which TWO of the following is Capt. Arflack still allowed to do while on suspension:

A) Hear confession and absolve parishioners from sin
B) Perform Mass for his parishioners
C) Perform Mass for himself only
D) Preside over weddings
E) Perform the last rites in emergency situations

8) According to estimates from the Associated Press, what is the current amount that Catholic dioceses in the United States have paid to settle sexual abuse claims against its priests?

a) $500 million
b) $1 billion
c) $2 billion
d) $3 billion
e) $5 billion

9) According to estimates by the Catholic lay group Voice of the Faithful, how high could that amount grow to before the church has settled all pending and yet-to-come sexual abuse claims?

a) $500 million
b) $1 billion
c) $2 billion
d) $3 billion
e) $5 billion

10) What was Catholic Archbishop William Levada, soon to be the highest-ranking American at the Vatican, served with prior to proceeding over his final Sunday Mass?

a) A subpoena to testify about sex abuse in the Church
b) A warrant to search his personal residence in the investigation of sexual abuse in the Church
c) Divorce papers files by a woman who claims to have been his secret wife for the past 27 years
d) A cherry pie baked by one of his supporters

11) Which legal argument has Pope Benedict XVI recently used to deny liability for his role in allegedly covering up sexual abuse at a Houston church in the 1990s?

a) He has never been to Texas
b) As Pope, he has diplomatic immunity
c) The statute of limitations has expired
d) God has found him innocent

12) And most recently, what did Pop Benedict XVI implore Catholics worldwide to do “for the good of society”?

A) Be more tolerant
B) Be more charitable
C) Have more babies
D) Stop suing the church for sexual abuse

1) D
2) B
3) D
4) A
5) D
6) F
7) C and E
8) A
9) D
10) A
11) B
12) C

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Hand of God: Quiz #5

Welcome to this week’s installment of “Holier Than Thou,” in which the Religious Right sees the Hand of God in Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, Evangelicals spread the word through video games, and the origins of dinosaurs are finally revealed (hint: it isn’t evolution).

Of course, no “Holier than Thou” quiz would be complete without a little Pat Robertson thrown in for good measure — he’s been on a roll lately, we can’t help ourselves.

So sharpen your pencils and no cheating. We don’t need to remind you what happens to cheaters, do we? (ANSWERS BELOW)

All joking aside, Hurricane Katrina has left such horrific destruction in its path and so many in dire need that all of us who can help must help. Please, give as generously as you possibly can to the American Red Cross ( or to any reputable charity assisting the victims.

1) Well, it didn’t take long for the Christian right to insert their political agenda into the misery that is Hurricane Katrina. While the floodwaters were still rising, a group calling itself Columbia Christians for Life proclaimed that Katrina plowed into New Orleans as God’s punishment because abortions are performed in the Big Easy. To prove its claim, the group says:

a) The city’s churches were largely spared by the storm.
b) The storm made landfall following “The Lord’s Day” (Sunday).
c) Color satellite images of the storm resemble those of a six-week-old fetus.
d) No abortions have been performed in the city since it was leveled by the storm.

2) Which TWO of these events was NOT listed by Columbia Christians for Life as PAST evidence of God’s retribution against abortion-allowing states?

a) The 9/11 attacks in New York
b) The anthrax attacks against Congress in Washington D.C.
c) The bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City
d) Earthquakes, mudslides and fires in California
e) Hurricanes Bonnie, Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne in Florida

3) Religious firebrand Pat Robertson has been offending and infuriating people across the globe of late. A mere week after Robertson’s famous “let’s assassinate the duly elected President of Venezuela” remarks, the Jewish Anti-Defamation League condemned Robertson’s comments on the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, in which Pat ominously warned:

a) “God says I am going to judge the nations who have parted my land. He said I am going to bring judgment against them.”
b) “Jesus is angry in Heaven today.”
c) “The liberals in Israel have won this battle, but they’ve lost the war.”
d) “Christians must pray that the settlers hold their ground!”

4) And it seems Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is still steamed about Pat Robertson’s recent remarks on “The 700 Club” in which he called for Chavez’s assassination (seems Pat believes that Chavez endangers the region with his leftist leanings). Although Robertson later apologized, Chavez has threatened to lodge a formal complaint with the United Nations AND:

a) Wants a formal apology from Robertson delivered before the United Nations.
b) Has requested Robertson travel to Venezuela as a guest of the state to see first hand how free his people are.
c) Said Venezuela could ask the U.S. to extradite Robertson.
d) Wants George W. Bush to guarantee the U.S. will not attempt to assassinate him.

5) Depressing statistic of the week: According to a 2004 Gallup poll, what percentage of Americans believe that human beings did not evolve, but instead were created by God, as stated in the Bible, about 10,000 years ago:

a) 25%
b) 35%
c) 45%
d) 55%

6) At the recent 20th annual Catholic World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, several delegates from the international coalition “World Youth Day 4 All” raised eyebrows with their vocal lobbying for the Vatican to drop its ban on:

a) Abortion
b) Condom use
c) Rap music
d) Marijuana

7) Focus on the Family will bring its international “Love Won Out” conference to Birmingham, Ala., on Sept. 17. The Metropolitan Church of God will host the one-day event, designed to educate and equip attendees on the issues surrounding:

a) How to create a loving, healthy marriage and family in America today.
b) Promoting racial and religious tolerance in an increasingly diverse America without compromising Christian values
c) Alcoholism and drug abuse and how to surrender these struggles to Christ
d) Homosexuality and providing help for those struggling — and those whose loved ones struggle — with unwanted same-sex attractions

8) High school-aged campers at the Christian “Generation Joshua” spend a week at the rural Purcellville, Virginia camp forgoing the usual canoeing and communing with nature and instead spend their days in the great outdoors:

a) Mentoring underprivileged and high-risk elementary school children who need positive role models.
b) Putting together care packages of snacks and letters of support for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
c) Preparing meals and collecting clothing for a Christian outreach program that serves the homeless and indigent.
d) Putting on pretend press conferences and acting out political ads about such hot button issues as abortion and gay marriage so campers can practice their political stumping techniques while working on a mock presidential campaign.

9) There’s still a few more weeks of summer left, so why not pack up the kids and head to Eureka Springs, Ark., to visit the Museum of Earth History where fossil replicas of dinosaurs are adjacent to images of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The museum’s founder, Thomas Sharp, attempts to make science and the literal interpretation of the Bible compatible. A staunch proponent of “Intelligent Design,” who believes the world was created in a mere six days, Sharp explains in his museum — and others he’s planning nationwide — the existence of dinosaurs using WHICH rationale:

a) Pairs of dinosaurs (adolescent ones due to space constraints) were shepherded onto the Great Ark by Noah and God created it all.
b) Dinosaurs are really the remains of demonic beasts that God slaughtered in a rage when Satan was damned.
c) Dinosaurs were created out of mud and filth by Satan to confuse humans and lead us to worship science, rather than God.
d) Dinosaurs were created by the liberal media to promote atheism.

10) Put down that Gameboy! To combat the raunchiness and violence rampant in mainstream video games, a group of Christian businessmen have recently started The Christian Game Developers to create games with wholesome content and a positive message. Which of the following is NOT one of the games they’ve developed:

a) “Rebel Planet” in which users explore the world before the great flood.
b) “Saint or Sinner?” in which gamers search for false prophets among world leaders and send them to hell using the Lord’s light saber.
c) “The Bible Game,” in which players race across the parted Red Sea to battle Goliath with a slingshot.
d) “Catechumen,” in which gamers use a sword to convert Roman soldiers to Christianity to the cries of “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!”


1) C
2) B and C
3) A
4) C: Chavez maintains that calling for the assassination of a head of state is a terrorist act.
5) C
6) B
7) D: "While the gay life is often glorified in ‘pride’ festivals and through the media, we offer a distinctly different message — one of hope and healing for those who don't share that sense of pride," said Mike Haley, “Love Won Out” host and a self-declared “former” homosexual.
8) D
9) A
10) B