Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A Taxing Situation

It hardly seems fair to us that churches and temples have tax-free status while the rest of us are burning the midnight oil during tax season poring over crumpled up receipts and trying to figure out how to use TurboTax. Anyway, in the spirit of the upcoming season, read on.

1. Thirty-one clergy members representing a variety of Christian and Jewish denominations have recently sent a complaint to the Internal Revenue Service requesting an investigation of two large churches in Ohio — the Columbus-area Fairfield Christian Church and the World Harvest Church — that they say are:

A) Running illegal telemarketing businesses selling diet drinks out of their meeting halls.
B) Raising money for a Christian homeless shelter by selling beer brewed in one of the church’s kitchens, but pocketing the proceeds.
C) Campaigning on behalf of a conservative Republican running for governor.

2. Okay, we’ll give you that one. In their complaint, the clergy members contend that the Fairfield Christian Church and the World Harvest Church, which were widely credited with getting out the Ohio vote for President Bush in 2004, have allowed their facilities to be used by Republican organizations, promoted the Republican candidate for governor J. Kenneth Blackwell, and otherwise violated prohibitions on political activity by tax-exempt groups.

The complaint questions, for example, how the Ohio Restoration Project, a nonprofit organization led by Mr. Johnson, Fairfield’s leader, obtained charitable status when among its stated purposes are to support and promote legislation. The group has said its goal is to create:

A) An army of “Patriot Pastors” to help increase the participation of church members in this year’s statewide elections.
B) A round-the-clock prayer group whose sole purpose is to pray that Democrats have a change of heart and become Republicans.
C) A television channel devoted to using Scripture to defend the Republican stance on issues in the hopes of influencing local elections.

3. Both churches denied that any of their activities violated limitations on nonprofit political activity. “We endorse values, but not candidates,” said the Rev. Russell Johnson, Fairfield’s leader. Rev. Johnson said Mr. Blackwell had been featured at events because he was the only candidate who had spoken out strongly in favor of:

A) A small increase in state sales tax that would go to support job training programs and daycare for the poor and indigent.
B) An amendment to the State Constitution banning same-sex marriage that passed last fall.
C) The Iraq War.


1. C. Rabbi Harold J. Berman said he signed the complaint because he was concerned that the line between church and state was becoming blurred. “I think government is clearly impaired when churches get too actively involved in government,” he said, “and I think religion gets impaired when government acts in religious affairs.”
2. A. Reformation Ohio’s goal is to win 100,000 converts, register 40,000 new voters and help the poor.
3). B. Why is it that gay rights always get conservatives’ panties in a knot?

Monday, January 30, 2006

The Root of All Evil?

Christian conservatives have long maintained that a good religious foundation is not only the tradition in America, but that it is necessary for the health of society. But now, at least one study is challenging that belief. The survey, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, concluded that the more religious a society is, the more dangerous and dysfunctional it is.

As proof, the researchers note that higher rates of belief in and worship of God correlates to WHICH of the following? (Hint: There is more than one correct answer here.)

A) Higher rates of homicide
B) Higher rates of juvenile mortality
C) Higher rates of teen pregnancy
D) Higher rates of high school academic achievement
E) Higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases
F) Higher rates of abortion


A, B, C, E and F: That’s right, the more religious a society is, the higher its rate of murder, juvenile death, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease and abortion! So the next time your friends in the religious right are claiming to be “pro life,” tell them that if they really wanted to put a dent in the abortion rate they would stop going to church altogether.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Rubber Game

The American Life League has become apoplectic over a new line of condom key chains offered for sale on Planned Parenthood of Connecticut’s website.

They key chains, which contain condoms inside and are adorned with artwork and slogans, have been derided by the Christian group (which opposes abortion even in cases of rape, incest and when a woman’s life is in danger) as being offensive, anti-American and even blasphemous.

So, which of the following is NOT a design for one of the offending condom key chains?

A) A re-creation of Michelangelo’s famous painting of God breathing life into Adam, with a condom placed between God’s and Adam’s outstretched fingers.
B) A photo of a baby crying with the slogan “Condoms are cheaper than diapers.”
C) A picture of the Statue of Liberty holding a condom instead of a torch.
D) A cartoon of George and Barbara Bush in the back seat of a car opening up a condom wrapper with the caption, “If Only…”

D) None of the key chains include George and Barbara Bush using birth control — but if Planned Parenthood wants to use the idea for its next round of key chains, they can feel free to contact me any time.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

It’s Like the Dark Ages All Over Again!

In a move that’s bizarre, archaic and ritualistic even by Catholic Church standards, last week the Diocese of San Bernardino, CA took the unusual move of convicting ex-priest Ned Reidy of heresy and schism.

Reidy left the Roman Catholic Church in 1999 to found a new denomination, the Catholic Ecumenical Communion, in Southern California. The new church holds services similar to those in the Roman Catholic Church, but with several key differences — differences the Catholic Church found to be so unacceptable that only a heresy and schism conviction would suffice.

So, what was Reidy’s Catholic Ecumenical Communion church doing that the Catholic Church found to be so threatening? (Hint: There is more than one correct answer here.)

A) Ordaining women as priests
B) Recognizing same-sex unions
C) Permitting divorce
D) Allowing for the use of contraception
E) Allowing priests to marry
F) Not recognizing the Vatican as the church’s ultimate authority
G) Shuffling pedophile priests from one church to the other so they won’t get caught

A, B, C, D, E and F. Reidy’s new church is doing just about everything in opposition to the Catholic Church, EXCEPT for harboring pedophiles.

Reidy, who now heads more than two dozen parishes nationwide, doesn’t consider himself or his churches to be Roman Catholic, and therefore was unfazed when he received the letter notifying him of the Catholic Church’s decision. “What they sent me was a 30-page document, and not once did they ever quote the words of Jesus,” he said.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Christians of the World, Unite!

Welcome to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2006, a worldwide, multi-denominational event sponsored by the Vatican and the World Council of Churches designed to transcend theological differences among Christians around the world at a time when the differences between these groups seems to be growing.

And, to make the point that not all Christians are cut from the same cloth, the Rev. John Drane, an Episcopal priest from Scotland, took a moment to describe what the “average” Christian worldwide looks like while recently speaking at a Unity event in Los Angeles.

So, dear reader, we ask you how well you can pick the characteristics of the average Christian:

1) The average Christian is a:

A) Man
B) Woman

2) The average Christian is:

A) White
B) Black
C) Latino
D) Asian

3) And the average Christian is:

A) North American
B) South American
C) European
D) African
E) Asian

4) And the average Christian is:

A) Under 20
B) In their 20s
C) In their 30s
D) In their 40s
E) Over 50

Worldwide, the average Christian is…

1) B: A woman…
2) B: Who is black…
3) D: Living in Africa…
4) B: In her 20s

Yes, apparently, the Southern Baptist’s worst nightmare has come true! In fact, whites make up only 30 percent of all Christians worldwide.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Now Playing on Laura Bush's iGod...

From the We Can’t Make This Stuff Up If We Tried File…

1) Born Again First Lady Laura Bush recently revealed (without a hint of irony) that she has WHICH song on her iPod?

A) Stairway to Heaven
B) Highway to Hell
C) Two Tickets to Paradise
D) Born to Run

2) In the First Lady’s defense, she added that the song in question is not the original hard-rock recording, but a cover version by whom?

A) Dolly Parton
B) Faith Hill
C) Tina Turner
D) The Mormon Tabernacle Choir

1) A: In an interview earlier this week, Laura said that she is quite fond of “Stairway to Heaven” — a song long believed by Evangelical conspiracy theorists to have been penned by the devil himself.

2) A: Who but the First Lady even knew that Dolly Parton covered the Led Zeppelin standard?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Divine Justice?

When the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Oregon’s assisted suicide law earlier this week, it drew outrage from religious conservatives, and strong dissenting opinions from three Supreme Court justices: John Roberts, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.

Now we know that judges go to great lengths in saying that they set their personal religious beliefs aside when deciding matters of law, but we at Holier Than Thou aren’t so sure.

(The Christian Right obviously isn’t so sure either — an Evangelical group is holding a prayer vigil even as we speak in the hopes that judge Samuel Alito gets confirmed to the Supreme Court.)

So, for the record, what religious affiliation do justices Roberts, Thomas and Scalia share?

A) Roman Catholic
B) Southern Baptist
C) Presbyterian
D) Buddhism
E) Scientology

A) The three are Roman Catholics, which strongly opposes all right-to-die measures. Coincidence, or point of law? You decide.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Divine Interpretation

We at Holier Than Thou have grown accustomed to — almost bored with — the likes of Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and George Bush having the audacity to interpret “God’s will” for the rest of us.

But when New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin took a stab at being God’s envoy for the human race yesterday, we had to stand up and take notice.

In a speech in which he discussed the rebuilding of New Orleans, Mayor Nagin laid out a whole laundry list of God’s grievances and demands, noting bluntly that, “God is mad at America.”

So, for the record, which of these statements did Nagin NOT make about the motivations and demands of the Divine One?

A) God is angry with the U.S. for invading Iraq under “false pretenses”
B) God is angry with the black community because some 70 percent of black children are born into single-parent families
C) God wants New Orleans to be rebuilt as an African-American city, or what Nagin describes as a “chocolate New Orleans.”
D) God is “Sending hurricane after hurricane after hurricane, and it is destroying and putting stress on this country.”
E) God wants to see the New Orleans Saints back in the NFL playoff’s by the 2006/2007 season.

E: Thus far at least, it seems, that God is still a Packers fan.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Do As I Say...

One of our chief complaints about the Religious Right is its proclivity to demand that we all live by its set of self-proclaimed “traditional values,” while its very leaders continue to disregard and ignore those same values on a daily basis.

Thus, in order to highlight these egregious acts of religious-backed hypocrisy, we’d like to introduce you to a new feature we call “Do As I Say, Not As I Do.”

Carl B. Hutcherson Jr., pastor of the Trinity United Methodist Church and the mayor of Lynchburg, Va., was recently arrested and charged with seven criminal counts in a federal court. So, just what TWO crimes is he accused of?

A) Stealing more than $30,000 in church funds to pay off his personal debts
B) Running an illegal poker club out of the church’s day care center
C) Assault and battery against a federal agent posing as a transvestite in an undercover prostitution sting
D) Illegally importing stolen hand guns into the state of New York
E) Taking the Social Security checks for two disabled people in his care and spending the money on a new stereo and cable TV for himself


A and E: The feds accused Hutcherson of embezzling from his own church’s charity to pay for his business and tax debts. As if that weren’t ironic enough, the funds were largely donated to Hutcherson’s church from Jerry Falwell Ministries (which is also located in Lynchburg), and the Rev. Falwell has been called upon to testify in the case.

Hutcherson, who stepped down from his pastor job, intends to hold on to his mayoral post, has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Science: 1, Intelligent Design: 0

Intelligent Design proponents have long pointed to existing mysteries in biology and science as proof of their claims that the universe is far too complex for a “designer” (i.e., God) not to have created it.

After all, they claim, if science can’t explain something, than it must be the work of God.

So those I.D. supporters suffered a stinging setback this week as scientists have finally figured out the science behind WHAT?

A) How bumble bees fly
B) How to clone a goat
C) The origin of the bacterial flagellum
D) Where babies come from


A) How bumble bees fly. A team from Cal Tech studied the flight of bees, and found that as the weight of the bee (or the load they are carrying) increases, bees manage to increase their wing stroke amplitude without adjusting the frequency of their wing beats in order to stay aloft. Said researcher Douglas Altshuler, “People in the ID community have said that we don’t even know how bees fly. We were finally able to put this one to rest.”

Friday, January 13, 2006

Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

In what has become a common occurrence these days, the Rev. Pat Robertson found himself in the rather familiar position of making a public apology after shooting off his mouth yet again.

This time, Robertson apologized for suggesting that God had decided to smite Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon with a massive stroke as punishment for Sharon’s pull out of the Gaza Strip — “dividing God’s land” as Robertson called it.

Now, some are questioning the sincerity of Robertson’s apology, pointing to the fact that it came only after the Israeli government kicked Pat out of a proposed $50 million deal to build an Evangelical Christian-backed theme park in northern Galilee, the proposed Christian Heritage Center. No, I swear, we aren’t making this up.

But at Holier Than Thou we’re not focusing on the sincerity of Pat’s apology, we’re looking at the long list of excuses he stacked up against it.

So, for the record, which of these did Pat NOT blame for contributing to the making of his controversial remark?

A) “My zeal”
B) “My love of Israel”
C) “My concern for the future safety of your nation”
D) “The homosexual community”
E) “The news media”

D) Apparently we’ve found something that Pat can’t blame homosexuals for!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Back to School

Just when you think it can’t get any crazier, it does.

Saying that its Christian mission “is most effectively fulfilled through mentoring and example,” Oklahoma Christian University has proposed a policy that would allow the university to fire any faculty member who does WHAT?

A) Fails to go to church services on Sunday
B) Gets divorced
C) Has an abortion
D) Uses the Lord's name in vain
E) Watches NBC’s “The Book of Daniel”


B) Gets divorced. “All married faculty should strive to model (healthy) marriages,” said a university memo sent to the staff. University President Mike O’Neil added that a divorce didn’t mean an automatic termination, but that each divorce would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Changing Channels

Is there no place that is safe from the prying eyes of the Religious Right? Apparently not, because once again they are going after the root of all evil: your television set. Doesn’t seem to matter to them that if you don’t like a show for whatever reason, you can always turn it off or change channels or go read the Bible. Nope, they want to control what you see if it doesn’t jibe with their narrow worldview. Case in point:

Last month, the conservative American Family Association began calling on affiliates and advertisers to bail out of THIS television show because it angered and offended Christians. Many stations have been flooded with e-mails and calls from viewers objecting to the series, and at least five of them, including KARK-TV in Little Rock, Arkansas, and WTWO-TV in Terre Haute, Indiana, pre-empted the premiere of WHAT show?

A) ABC’s “Emily’s Reasons Why Not”
B) PBS’s “Walking the Bible”
C) ABC’s “In Justice”
D) NBC’s “The Book of Daniel”
E) Fox’s “Skating with Celebrities”

Answer D: The NBC series depicts an Episcopalian minister, played by Aidan Quinn, struggling with an addiction to Vicodin, among other problems in his diocese. Jesus is actually a character on the series, depicted in imagined conversations with the minister. In the case of the Tupelo station, it replaced “The Book of Daniel” with some good, wholesome programming by running an infomercial instead.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Supreme Beings

It’s been said that the Lord moves in mysterious ways. Apparently, so do his followers.

A group of Evangelical Christians who have a keen interest in seeing Judge Samuel Alito confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, were recently caught red-handed in the middle of performing a “consecration service” in the Senate hearing room where the Judiciary Committee proceedings on Alito were about to take place.

So, which of the following was NOT are part of that “consecration service”?

A) Blessing the doors leading to and from the hearing room
B) Anointing with oil the seats in the room where Alito, the senators, their staff and the press were to be sitting
C) Praying for each of the 13 senators on the committee by name
D) Sprinkling holy water on the Bible that Alito will be sworn in on

D) Apparently there was no holy water used in this judicial consecration service, which will be backed up by prayer meetings throughout the entire confirmation hearing. “This is not a pro-Alito prayer,” said Rev. Patrick Mahoney, who took part in the service. However, said co-consecrator Rev. Rob Schenck, “God…is interested in what goes on.” Amen!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Love the Sinner

It doesn’t get any better than this.

1) What was Lonnie Latham, executive committee member of the Southern Baptist Convention (the nation’s largest Protestant denomination) and senior pastor at South Tulsa Baptist Church, arrested for in Oklahoma City last week?

A) Possessing 12 kilograms of cocaine.
B) Failing to report more than $250,000 in federal income tax.
C) Driving with a blood alcohol content more than three times the Oklahoma legal limit.
D) Offering an undercover policeman $500 in exchange for a oral sex.

D) Offering an undercover policeman $500 to come back to his hotel room for oral sex. Latham was arrested in the parking lot of a local hotel known as a hotspot for male prostitution, and charged with offering to engage in an act of lewdness. His defense? “I was set up,” Latham said, “I was in the area pastoring to police.” Of course, Latham has used his ministry to speak out against homosexuality, and urged his parishioners to befriend gays and lesbians and turn them into good heterosexuals by getting them to “accept Jesus Christ as their savior and reject their ‘sinful, destructive lifestyle.’” Seems that Latham couldn’t catch a break that day — the cops also impounded his new Mercedes Benz.

Friday, January 06, 2006

It's Pat...Again

Once again, Reverend Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, has been making news and raising eyebrows with his controversial views. We can’t make this stuff up.

1) The Reverend Pat Robertson recently told viewers of “The 700 Club” that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s massive stroke could be God’s:

A) …punishment for giving up Israeli territory.
B) …sign that He wants both the Palestinians and the Jews to put down their weapons and work toward peace.
C) …way of saying He sides with the Palestinians.

2) The good reverend also went on to say that Sharon was “dividing God’s land,” even though the Bible says doing so invites “God's enmity.” Robertson added, “I would say woe to any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course” then noted that former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. Robertson said God’s message is:

A) “This land belongs to me. You’d better leave it alone.”
B) “You’d better follow the road to peace — or else.”
C) “The end days are nigh!”

1) A: Punishment for giving up the Gaza Strip
2) A: “This land belongs to me.” No word yet on when, per Pat’s warnings, God will smite the city of Dover, Pa., for voting out that city’s “Intelligent Design” supporting school board…

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Lobbyists and Indians

Yesterday we learned how GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff asked the Almighty for forgiveness after pleading guilty to several federal counts of conspiracy, mail fraud and tax evasion as part of a broader scam to bribe federal officials and members of Congress.

Today we learn why the Almighty might not be so forgiving after all.

It seems that at the heart of Abramoff’s scam was a shell organization, created under the guise of being a grass-roots Christian-backed activist group, devoted to improving the “moral fitness” of the nation.

This group, headed (at least on paper) by the Rev. Christopher Geeslin, would funnel money Abramoff skimmed from his lobbying clients into campaign contributions to the politicians he was trying to curry favor with.

What was the name of this now discredited Christian political activist group?

A) The U.S. Family Network
B) Concerned Christians for a Better Tomorrow
C) The Religious Rights Association
D) The Fifth Nail

A) The U.S. Family Network, which once sent out a mailer noting that “The American family is under attack from all sides: crime, drugs, pornography, and one of the least talked about but equally as destructive — gambling.” The mailer then urged Alabama voters to oppose plans for the construction of a casino backed by the Poarch Creek Indian tribe, without detailing that the U.S. Family Network received $250,000 in donations raised from gambling receipts from the nearby Choctaw Indian tribe, which didn’t want the competition from the Poarch Creek.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Forgive and Forget

You’ve got to hand it to the Religious Right — they never seem to let the fact that they are self-avowed “Good Christians” get in the way of their doing truly despicable things.

What’s more, they never let the fact that they’ve just done truly despicable things keep them from retreating back to their “good Christian” roots for cover.

Exhibit A is this quote from a proud member of the Religious Right who just pled guilty to a whole laundry list of less-than-Godly actions.

Can you match this quote to the Warrior for Christ who said it?

"I only hope that I can merit forgiveness from the Almighty and those I have wronged or caused to suffer… Words will not ever be able to express how sorry I am for this, and I have profound regret and sorrow for the multitude of mistakes and harm I have caused."

A) Former GOP House Leader Tom Delay
B) GOP Lobbyist Jack Abramoff
C) Vice Presidential Chief of Staff “Scooter” Libby
D) GOP Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham

B) Jack Abramoff, who yesterday pled guilty to charges of conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud. As part of the deal, Abramoff will pay some $25 million in restitution to those he defrauded, as well as pay another $1.7 million to the IRS for taxes he evaded.

What’s more, Abramoff has agreed to cooperate with a broader federal probe of bribery and influence peddling that could ensnare several top GOP members of congress before it’s over.

Let’s hope that the Almighty is more forgiving than the judge, who will soon sentence Abramoff to nearly 10 years in prison.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Happy New Year!

We’re back everyone! Hope your holidays were happy and we wish you all the best in 2006, but enough with the good cheer, Christmas is over. Well, not quite...

We at Holier than Thou really feel for parents who were Christmas shopping this year because not only were right-wing Christians claiming that there was a war on the holy holiday and that evil liberals were trying to take Christ out of Christmas (is that even possible?) but toys were coming under their wrath, too. What’s a parent to do? Read on.

1) The Pro-Life Action League is calling for a boycott of the ever-popular American Girl dolls and some Catholic schools have cancelled American Girl events. These ever-popular dolls that are made by Mattel, boasted more than $379 million in sales in 2004, attesting to their wide appeal. So why the sudden acrimony toward these wholesome dolls rooted in American history? Seems that American Girl:

A) …has come under federal scrutiny for money laundering.
B) …has revealed that the original creator of American Doll is a self-avowed atheist.
C) …donates money to a charitable organization that offers support to underprivileged girls, endorses Roe v. Wade and promotes acceptance of homosexuality.
D) …pays Chinese children working in sweatshops less than a dollar a week to assemble the dolls.

2) Meanwhile, the radical Christian organization Concerned Women for America says THIS toy “has become another tool for promoting gender confusion among children.” What toy?

A) Sing-Along Barney Cuddle-Me plush toy
B) Barbie
C) Bert and Ernie’s Best Friends board game
D) Teletubbies Touch and Learn Activity Set

1) Answer: C. American Girl donates money to Girls Inc. American Girl released a statement saying it is “profoundly disappointed that certain groups have chosen to misconstrue American Girl's purely altruistic efforts.”

2) Answer: B. On the Barbie Web site, www.Barbie.com, there is a poll that asks children their age and sex. The age choices are 4-8, but as Bob Knight, Director of CWA’s Culture & Family Institute, notes children are given three options for their choice of gender: girl, boy and “I don’t know,” which CWA feels possibly reveals Barbie’s darker motives to promote homosexuality and transgenderism. Go figure.