Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Christ the Vote!

The 2006 mid-term elections are just around the corner, and GOP activists are turning their attention back to their conservative Christian base.

Last month, the GOP in this state sent out an e-mail to registered Republicans asking them to send the party headquarters “as many church directories as you can…in an effort to fully register, education, and energize [our state’s] congregations.”

What state is it?

A) Alabama
B) North Carolina
C) Ohio
D) Utah

B) North Carolina. The move has drawn concerns about the separation of church and state — even among Evangelical Christians. It has also raises the question about giving these churches tax-exempt status if they intend to engage in political activities.

“I find it disturbing,” says Rev. Robert Prince III, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Waynesville, NC. “I don’t think it’s a good idea…because of church-state type issues.”

Monday, February 27, 2006

Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

From our Not Terribly Relevant But Too Good to Pass Up file comes this follow-up item:

We previously noted here at Holier Than Thou that Utah judge and fundamentalist Mormon Walter Steed was under fire for violating the state’s polygamy laws — he has more than one wife.

Well, it seems that Steed lost his most recent appeal and will indeed be removed from the bench he has held for the past 25 years — all the while continuing his polygamist ways.

1) So, just how many wives does Judge Walter Steed have?

A) Two
B) Three
C) Four
D) Five

2) And, aside from all being his wives, what other relationship do these women have?

A) They are all second cousins
B) They are all first cousins
C) They are all aunts and nieces to each other
D) They are all sisters

3) And lastly, how many children does Walter Steed have with his stable of wives?

A) 18
B) 24
C) 32
D) 40

1) B: Judge Walter Steed has three wives
2) D: His wives are all sisters
3) C: And with those three sisters, he has 32 children.

The court ruled that “When the law is violated or ignored by those charged by society with the fair and impartial enforcement of the law, the stability of our society is placed at undue risk.”

No word yet on whether Steed will face criminal charges…

Friday, February 24, 2006

A Heartfelt Apology

Think all Christian churches toe the line when it comes to the Republican political agenda? Think again.

In a sign that we at Holier Than Thou find extremely encouraging, representatives of 34 members of the World Council of Churches (which includes Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist denominations, among others) recently released a statement that many within the Bush Administration are sure to find troubling.

The sharply worded statement, released at the WCC’s global assembly in Brazil last week, slammed the Bush Administration for WHAT?

(Hint: There is more than one correct answer here...)

A) The Iraq War, which it claims was “launched in deception.”
B) Refusing to back international accords aimed at curbing global warming and treating the world’s “finite resources as if they are private possessions.”
C) The response to Hurricane Katrina, which “revealed to the world those left behind in our own nation by the rupture of our social contract.”
D) The treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, which violates “the fundamental Christian belief in the dignity of the human person.”

A (Iraq War), B (Global Warming) and C (Hurricane Katrina).

The statement about Guantanamo Bay was not made U.S. members of the World Council of Churches, but by the affiliated U.S. National Council of Churches, which has formally asked the administration to close the detention centers there.

The WCC statement, meanwhile, asked for worldwide forgiveness for not doing enough to stop the Bush Administration’s “raining down terror on the truly vulnerable among our global neighbors,” and “entering into imperial projects that seek to dominate and control for the stake of national interests.”

The statement went on to conclude that “Nations have been demonized and God has been enlisted in national agendas that are nothing short of idolatrous.”

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Suffer the Children

Yesterday we at Holier Than Thou discussed the new salvo in the Christian Right’s war against gays — the fact that 16 states are now working on efforts to ban homosexuals from adopting children.

But it seems that several states have similar measures on the books already.

So, can you match the state with its gay-adoption laws?

1) THIS STATE has barred gays and lesbians from adopting children since 1977, although it does allow them to be foster parents
2) THIS STATE bans any unmarried couple — gay or straight — from adopting children
3) THIS STATE has anti-bias laws that protect the rights of gays and lesbians to adopt, although the Catholic Church here is seeking an exemption to keep homosexuals from adopting children from its church-run agencies.
4) And THIS STATE bars gay couples from adopting, but in an embarrassing loophole, allows for SINGLE gay men and women to adopt

A) Florida
B) Utah
C) Massachusetts
D) Mississippi


1) A: Florida bars gay adoption, but allows gays to foster
2) B: Utah bars any unmarried couple from adopting
3) C: Massachusetts allows gay couples to adopt — something the Catholic Church is fighting
4) D: And the geniuses in Mississippi allow single gay men and women to adopt, while barring gay couples from adopting.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Coming to a Ballot Box Near You

The Warriors for Christ have opened up a new front in their crusade to rule America.

Fresh off of several key victories at the ballot box in the effort to ban gay marriage, Religious Conservatives in at least 16 states are now working to ban homosexuals from doing what?

A) Adopting children
B) Working as public school teachers
C) Jointly owning property
D) Owning day care centers
E) Public displays of affection

A) Sadly, not content in screwing homosexuals out of the same rights that everybody else has, the Christian Right is now moving to deprive orphans of a loving home by working to keep gay couples from adopting children.

Says Greg Quinlan of Ohio’s misnamed and Christian-backed Pro-Family Network, “Now that we’ve defined what marriage is, we need to take that further and say children deserve to be in that relationship.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Affairs of States

Every once in a while, we at Holier Than Thou like to take a state-by-state look at religious extremism run amok. How well have you been keeping up with the state of religious affairs in these United States?

1) Medical institutions in this state have had to turn away researchers and delay expansion plans over fears that the state legislature — with support from Christian anti-abortion groups — will soon criminalize stem cell research and treatment. To fight back, a group of social moderates and business leaders is trying to amend the state constitution to expressly de-criminalize such activities. Which state?

A) Missouri
B) Idaho
C) Utah
D) Ohio

2) Meanwhile, THIS STATE is the latest to seek to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriages.

A) Missouri
B) Idaho
C) Utah
D) Ohio

3) The Origins of Life bill, which would require science teachers to offer an Intelligent Design-inspired disclaimer before teaching evolution, is stuck in this state’s legislature, not because lawmakers are pro-evolution, but because they believe that the basic tenants of Intelligent Design — that some undefined intelligence created the universe — doesn’t support their religious views enough. Which state?

A) Missouri
B) Idaho
C) Utah
D) Ohio

4) Meanwhile, the board of education in THIS STATE, recently reversed course, and is now advising against standards that would require an Intelligent Design-friendly disclaimer in its high school biology classes. Which state?

A) Missouri
B) Idaho
C) Utah
D) Ohio

1) A: Missouri keeps trying to criminalize stem cell research
2) B: Idaho is now trying to outlaw gay marriage
3) C: Utah is debating the “Origin of Life” bill
4) D: Ohio is now pulling back from its Intelligent Design efforts

Friday, February 17, 2006

Don’t Touch That Dial!

If you think that “The Book of Daniel” ruffled some religious feathers, then just wait for the fight that’s about to break out next month.

It is then that THIS new show will premiere — which has already garnered complaints from religious group’s asking the network to air a disclaimer at the beginning of each episode.

What is the show?

A) HBO’s “Big Love”
B) PBS’ “Sex Slaves”
C) The WB’s “Just Legal”
D) Fox’s “Head Cases”
E) UPN’s “Get This Party Started”
F) MTV’s “Who Wants to Buy My Daughter?”

A) HBO’s “Big Love,” a drama starring Bill Paxton as a Viagra-popping Mormon polygamist with three wives to contend with. Mormon groups in Utah are already asking HBO to put a disclaimer at the top of the show — presumably to distance the Latter Day Saints from its polygamist past…and sometimes present.

And no, as of yet, there is no show — on MTV or elsewhere — called “Who Wants to Buy My Daughter?” But any interested TV executives can feel free to contact us at Holier Than Thou for a complete pitch.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Food For Thought

From our Not Terribly Relevant But Too Good to Pass Up Department comes word of a new university study that compared the weight of members of a single religious group to that of the population at large. Why they decided to conduct this study is a mystery to us.

Anyway, the result was that members of THIS religion weighed an average of 4.6 pounds more than the rest of the population, and was 14 percent more likely than nonmembers to be obese. What’s more, male adherents of this religion were more likely to be obese (18 percent) than its female members (9 percent).

So, can you name this religion?

A) Roman Catholic
B) Southern Baptist
C) Presbyterian
D) Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
E) Judaism

D) The study, conducted by Prof. Ray Merrill of Brigham Young University, found that Mormons were simply fatter than the rest of Utah. One potential reason: that LDS members turned to excessive eating as a substitute for prohibitions against smoking and drinking.

“In the church, we have a lot of don’ts,” said BYU’s Steve Aldana, who also worked on the study, “and now finally here’s a do — go ahead and eat — and boy, we do eat.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Play’s the Thing…

Forget about “Will & Grace” and “The Book of Daniel.” The latest salvo in the Culture Wars is being played out in the high school drama department in the small Missouri town of Fulton.

1) It is there that the Callaway Christian Church recently pressured Fulton High to cancel this year’s planned performance of WHAT popular play?

A) “Our Town”
B) “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”
C) “The Crucible”
D) “Othello”

2) Why the cancellation? It seems that the Fulton Superintendent of Schools got cold feet after receiving three complaints — all from members of Callaway Christian Church — that the performance of last year’s play went too far with its scenes of drinking, smoking and a couple kissing: “immoral behavior veiled behind the excuse of acting out a play” as one protest letter stated.

What was THAT play?

A) “Grease”
B) “West Side Story”
C) “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
D) “Waiting for Godot.”

1) C: “The Crucible,” which ironically or not, is about religious-bred hysteria and intolerance.

2) A: “Grease” — which is only the second-most-frequently-performed musical on high school campuses nationwide.

Of course, in the best tradition of religion-backed censorship, the person who wrote the protest letter citing the “immoral behavior” in “Grease” had not bothered to actually see the play.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine’s Day!

On this February 14th, we at Holier Than Thou wish all of our readers a very Happy Valentine’s Day.

But, it probably comes as no surprise that the Conservative Christian movement has something else in mind for this day of romance and love.

1) So, instead of celebrating Valentine’s Day with the rest of us, thousands of Christian teens throughout this country will be celebrating WHAT instead?

A) A Day of Purity
B) Culture of Life Day
C) Celebrate Traditional Marriage Day
D) A Day of Family Values
E) Put the “Saint” Back in Valentine’s Day

2) You can assume that Christian teens will be forbidden from indulging in any carnal activities today (or any day for that matter) — what the Religious Right likes to call abstinence-only sex education programs. However, such programs have been met with mixed results.

According to research published in the Journal of Adolescent Heath, teens that take “abstinence pledges” do indeed wait longer to have intercourse for the first time, and have fewer sexual partners. But they are also much more likely than their non-pledging peers to:

A) Develop obsessive-compulsive disorders
B) Require treatment for depression
C) Get married prior to leaving high school
D) Engage in oral and anal sex

3) And while we hate to be the bearers of bad news, pledge-signing teens (who are obviously supposed to remain virgins until marriage) who do…well, fall off the wagon so to speak, are actually LESS likely to do what:

A) Use condoms
B) Be faithful to their partners
C) Continue attending church
D) Remain non-smokers

1) A: What we call Valentine’s Day, Christian teens are celebrating as A Day of Purity. And on this annual Day of Purity, Christian teens around the country will be vowing to remain chaste until marriage by signing chastity pledges, writing letters to their local newspaper, hanging posters in the school cafeteria and going to special Bible study groups.

2) D: Yuck, but yes, it’s true. Kids who take abstinence pledges are more likely to engage in oral and anal sex than their non-pledging counterparts — obviously not the sort of behavior proponents of such abstinence programs are hoping for!

3) A: Yup, they won’t use condoms. And since the teens aren’t using condoms, their rate of sexually transmitted disease is nearly equal to their non-pledging peers. Perhaps basic sex education would have been a good idea after all...

Monday, February 13, 2006

Recuse Me!

Last week we made note of the fact that Los Angeles Archdiocese Cardinal Roger Mahoney has gone to the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to keep files relating to the Roman Catholic dioceses’ sexual abuse scandal out of the hands of the L.A. district attorney.

The move was the latest legal maneuver by Mahoney, who has argued that being forced to turn over the documents — which are believed to detail how the church shuffled abusing priests from parish to parish — would violate the First Amendment and the Church’s constitutional right to freedom of religion.

Yet we at Holier Than Thou are prompted to point out that the Supreme Court has several Catholic members sitting on its bench, and wonder if those same members will recuse themselves from deciding this case on the grounds that they — as Catholics — have an inherent conflict of interest.

So, just for the record, how many current members of the U.S. Supreme Court are Roman Catholic?

A) Two
B) Three
C) Four
D) Five
E) Six

D) Five — or enough to form a majority. Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.

Are the chickens guarding the hen house, or will these brave souls do the right thing and recuse themselves from deciding this case?

We’ll keep you posted…

Friday, February 10, 2006

Jacked Up

Every once in a while, it’s fun to watch the self-appointed high and mighty take a stumble.

So we at Holier Than Thou have been particularly pleased to see a leading Conservative Christian figure with his eye on a political office have his proverbial feet of clay crumble out from under him for his close ties to embattled and indicted GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Specifically, this Holy Warrior received $4.2 million from Abramoff to launch a public relations and lobbying campaign to mobilize Christian voters against the opening of new Indian casinos. The catch is that the money was largely donated by other Indian gambling operations that did not oppose the new casinos on Christian moral grounds, but simply didn’t want the competition.

And now that the cat is out of the bag and rank-and-file Christians feel duped by this Evangelical leader, his own political designs are slowly circling the drain.

So, who is this Christian Right leader?

A) Focus on the Family founder James Dobson
B) Crystal Cathedral founder Robert Schuller
C) Former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed
D) Former Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell
E) Ohio Restoration Project founder Russell Johnson

C) Ralph Reed, who is struggling to disassociate himself from Abramoff in the midst of a race for lieutenant governor of Georgia. Since the scandal broke, Reed has seen his fundraising dry up, and his standings in the polls drop into a dead heat with his little-known challenger in the July 18 GOP primary.

Have no fear, we at Holier Than Thou will be watching this one closely!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Be Careful What You Pray For…

Pastors from some of the country’s largest mega churches have descended upon Inglewood, Calif., this week under the auspices of the Global Pastor’s Network’s “Billion Souls Initiative.”

The objective? To start 5 million new churches worldwide over the next ten years (that’s 370 new churches a day).

It’s all part of the Global Pastor’s Network’s ultimate goal of speeding up the end of WHAT?

A) Abortion
B) Homosexuality
C) The Worship of “false religions”
D) The World

D) The World. That’s right, the Global Pastor’s Network is trying to speed up the arrival of the End Time, the Rapture, and the Second Coming of Jesus. And to do this, they believe, they have to convert more Christians.

We will let James Davis, president of the campaign, explain from here: “Jesus Christ commissioned his disciples to go to the ends of the Earth and tell everyone how they could achieve eternal life. As we advance around the world, we’ll be shortening the time needed to fulfill that great commission. Then, the Bible says, the end will come.”

Added Davis, “The current generation may actually live long enough to see this.”

And if the End Time doesn’t come in our generation? The group can still work on its other goal of evangelizing 83 percent of the world’s population by the year 2200.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

All the Crucifixens You Want

It just keeps getting weirder…

1) Bowing to pressure from the American Family Association and other Evangelical groups, which television show has scuttled plans for an episode in which Britney Spears would portray the host of a Christian cooking show called “Cruci-fixins”?

A) ABC’s “Desperate Housewives”
B) CBS’s “Two and a Half Men”
C) NBC’s “Will & Grace”
D) Fox’s “Arrested Development”
E) WB’s “7th Heaven”

2) Despite this week’s dust-up over the “Cruci-fixins” episode, the term for Christian-themed culinary offerings as actually first used years ago in WHICH Fox show, where a character called Rev. Lovejoy offered “Crucifixens” at a church ice cream social?

A) “Arrested Development”
B) “In Living Color”
C) “Melrose Place”
D) “The Simpsons”

3) And in the above Fox show’s episode, which of the following was NOT among the Crucifixens flavors offered?

A) Blessed Virgin Berry
B) Commandmint
C) Biblegum
D) Jew-cee-fruit

1) C: Will & Grace
2) D: The Simpsons
3) D: As far as we know, there has yet to be an ice cream flavor — fictional or not — named Jew-cee-fruit

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

He Writes the Songs

As if the Catholic Church doesn’t have enough trouble with men who show an unnatural attraction to pre-pubescent children, now comes word that THIS pop signer has designs on recording songs based on original prayers written by the late Pope John Paul II.

A) Michael Jackson
B) Pete Townsend
C) R. Kelly
D) Bill Wyman

A) Michael Jackson. Seems the rights to these prayers, penned by the late pope, belong to a private company called Edizioni Musicali Terzo Millennio, which now wants them set to music. “As a celebrity he [Jackson] is perhaps a bit remote from the teachings contained in the Pope’s prayers,” said Father Giuseppe Moscati of Edizioni Musicali Terzo Millennio. “But if he can help us put together a group of singers that fulfill the criteria of the project then we’ll study the proposal.” And, when asked about the wisdom of having a man who was just acquitted of sexual abuse, Father Moscati dismissed such concerns, adding, “He [Jackson] has been cleared of all charges.”

Monday, February 06, 2006

Sexual Abuse Scorecard

It’s been a while since we checked in on the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal, so let’s get back up to speed.

Please match the diocese with the recent abuse scandal developments.

1) Spokane, Wash.
2) Covington, Ky.
3) Los Angeles

A) A judge here approved the dioceses’ $85 million offer to settle sexual abuse claims by 382 victims.
B) The Cardinal here has gone to the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to keep from turning over priest personnel files as part of a grand jury investigation into church sexual abuse.
C) The diocese here has offered $45.7 million to settle the claims of 75 people who claim to have been molested by priests.


1) C: The Spokane diocese offered a $45.7 million settlement.
2) A: The Covington dioceses $85 million settlement offer was just approved.
3) B: And in Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahoney is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to block a subpoena by the Los Angeles District Attorney to look into the Church’s files on its pedophile priests.

Friday, February 03, 2006

If the Shoe Fits…

One of the strengths of the Religious Right is the Secular Left’s fear of criticizing it directly. After all, few politicians are willing to come across as attacking good, God-fearing Christians — no matter how bad and ungodly some of those Christians might actually be.

Thus we at Holier Than Thou were heartened to see a Democrat on the national stage who is actually willing to take on the Conservative Christians head on.

So, who recently said the following in a campaign speech:

“The Republican party has been hijacked by religious fanatics that, in my opinion, aren’t a whole lot different than Osama bin Laden and a lot of other religious nuts around the world.”

Was it?

A) Hillary Clinton, U.S. Senator from New York
B) Howard Dean, national chairman of the Democratic Party
C) Jane Harmon, U.S. Congresswoman from California
D) Paul Hackett, former Marine running for U.S. Senate in Ohio

D) An Iraq war veteran, Paul Hackett is running on an anti-war platform in the state of Ohio. Needless to say, the Ohio Republican Party was outraged by Hackett’s remarks, and called upon him to make a public apology.

Hackett’s response (and one that other Democrats could clearly learn from): “I said it. I meant it. I stand by it.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

I Need a Miracle

Vatican researchers have announced the discovery of an apparent “miracle” that they can credit to the late Pope John Paul II — the spontaneous and medically inexplicable “curing” of a nun with Parkinson’s disease.

Although the Church will not release the name of the nun in question, they say that she was cured of her Parkinson’s after praying to the Pope shortly after his death last year.

If this “miracle” is indeed confirmed by the Church, it would move John Paul II one step closer to being declared a saint.

So, for the record, just how many miracles does one to be become a saint?

A) Two
B) Three
C) Four
D) Thirteen

A) Apparently, two miracles is all one needs to become a saint. However, that miracle must be the result of prayers asking the dead Pope to intercede with God (prayers made to a Pope while he’s alive just don’t count).

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Fred’s Law

You’ve got to give the Rev. Fred Phelps points for originality. In the past, he and his Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., have blamed such diverse things as Hurricane Katrina and U.S. casualties in Iraq on what he considers to be U.S. tolerance for gays, which, in turn, has caused God to smite us in any number of ways.

1) Now Phelps has something new he’s been blaming on homosexuals. What is it?

A) The rising federal deficit
B) Bird flu
C) The West Virginia mining disasters
D) The Kansas City Chiefs’ failure to make the playoffs

2) Those of you who read this space often will recall that one of Phelps’ favorite strategies is to protest at the funerals of fallen U.S. soldiers, blaming their deaths on (again) U.S. tolerance toward homosexuality — despite the fact that the soldiers whose funerals he is protesting at are not gay.

It’s gotten so out of hand that Illinois and four other states are considering what?

A) Refusing to issue Phelps permits for his protests
B) Outlawing all protesting at all funerals
C) Revoking his church’s tax-exempt status
D) Arresting Phelps for disturbing the peace

1) C: The West Virginia mining disasters

2) B: Five mid-western states are now considering legislation that would ban protests at funerals.