Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Bad Boys

Eager to avoid dredging up old stereotypes about the Religious Right, we at Holier Than Thou are excited to report that a Roman Catholic priest has been convicted of something OTHER than child molestation!

Instead, Msgr. John Woolsey of New York’s Church of St. John the Martyr recently pled guilty to WHAT non-child molesting-related charge?

A. Soliciting prostitution during an undercover sting in Central Park
B. Grand larceny for looting some $800,000 from his parish
C. Driving under the influence, with a blood-alcohol level of 1.2 percent
D. Trespassing during a Memorial Day anti-war rally at the White House

B. Among the items Woolsey bought with his looted church funds were designer clothes, luxury vacations and a country club membership. He now faces up to five years in prison — plus an eternity in hell.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Say What?

Christians, it seems, say the darnedest things. So, who recently said the following?

1) “I firmly believe I’m innocent of the charges against me. We believe that God, in fact, is in control and indeed He does work all things for the good of those who love the Lord.”

A. Former Enron CEO Ken Lay
B. Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff
C. Former congressman Ken DeLay
D. Former vice presidential aide “Scooter” Libby
E. Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein

2) And while we are on the subject, who said this?

“I don’t think Jesus would be mad at me and the message I am trying to send.”

A. Madonna
B. Mel Gibson
C. Neil Young
D. Karl Rove
E. Saddam Hussein

1) A: Yes, Ken Lay had the nerve to invoke God’s name after being found guilty on 10 counts related to the collapse of Enron.

2) A: And yes, Madonna was defending herself against criticism stemming from her concert tour, in which she hangs herself from a mirrored cross in a mock crucifixion scene.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Smite House

President George W. Bush’s fundamentalist faith in God is worrying to many people and for good reason. What Washington insider said the following:

“I worked for two presidents who were men of faith, and they did not make their religious views part of American policy. President Bush’s certitude about what he believes in, and the division between good and evil, is, I think, different…The absolute truth is what makes Bush so worrying to some of us.” This person goes on to add: “Some of his language is really quite over the top…When he says ‘God is on our side’, it’s very different from (former U.S. President Abraham) Lincoln saying ‘We have to be on God's side.’”

A). Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
B). Former Secretary of State Colin Powell
C). Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
D). Former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft

A: Madeleine Albright, who worked for Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, both Democrats and Christians. Albright says Bush’s religious absolutism has made U.S. foreign policy “more rigid and more difficult for other countries to accept.”

In Albright’s new book, “The Mighty and the Almighty,” she recalls how Bush, while he was governor of Texas, told Christians he believed God wanted him to be president. In addition, Bush says his Christian faith informs his decisions as president. He says, for example, that he prayed to God for guidance before invading Iraq. Either God isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer or Bush is a colossal, perhaps, delusional idiot. We bet it’s the latter.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Pat, Pat and More Pat!

We mentioned last week that the Rev. Pat Robertson has been running us ragged with his seemingly endless barrage of bizarre statements and proclamations. And now comes this.

1. At the Christian Broadcasting Network website — CBN was founded by Robertson — readers are treated to some interesting insights into the reverend’s health regime. It reads: “Where does Pat find the time and energy to host a daily, national TV show, head a worldwide ministry, develop visionary scholars, while traveling the globe as a statesman? One of Pat’s secrets to keeping his energy high and his vitality soaring is his:

A. … age-defying protein shake.”
B. … morning prayer sessions with his wife that include meditation.”
C. … nightly habit of drinking one glass of red wine from a blessed vineyard in Jerusalem.”
D. … adherence to a strict vegetarian diet.”

2. And this “secret” of Pat’s also allows this man of the cloth to do something quite amazing. Because Pat partakes in this, he says he can:

A. Read minds
B. Leg press 2,000 pounds
C. Go without sleep for up to a week and still feel rested
D. Can cast out demons without feeling fatigued

1. A: According to the CBN website, “Pat developed a delicious, refreshing shake, filled with energy-producing nutrients.” Really. If Jesus exists, we’re sure that’s how He’d want Pat to spend his free time. Certainly, that’s a more valuable endeavor than caring for the impoverished and spreading God’s love.

2. B: Leg press 2,000 pounds, which would be a physical impossibility. Robertson is 76 years old and the current record stands at 1,335 pounds. Do the math. But then we thought it would be impossible for Robertson to continue saying and doing stupid things and he always seems to surprise us. It’s a miracle!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Judge Not

Which U.S. Supreme Court Justice recently suggested praying as a salve to President George W. Bush’s political wounds, noting that, “He’s in real trouble”?

A. John Roberts
B. Antonin Scalia
C. Samuel Alito
D. Clarence Thomas

D: Clarence Thomas was overheard saying to presidential sister Doro Bush Koch, “We have to pray for your brother. He’s in a lot of trouble.”

Now granted, Clarence Thomas probably knows about being in a lot of trouble himself. But we can’t help but marvel at the myopic nature of the Christian Right, who are always so self-assured in their righteous, despite such overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Case in point: Why don’t people of faith ever consider simply urging President Bush to pray to the Almighty for forgiveness for his myriad of obvious sins, rather than to pray in support of Bush?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Monkey Business

Sometimes, even we at Holier Than Thou have to feel a bit sorry for our friends on the Religious Right, who face such internal turmoil over seemingly simple scientific concepts the rest of us pretty much take for granted.

After all, conservative Christians have been struggling for decades to come to terms with evolution. Some would rather believe it makes perfect sense that Noah loaded thousands of species of animals onto an ark a few thousand years ago and hit the high seas or that dinosaurs are really demons or that the ancient rock record is the work of the devil. That makes more sense to them than the fact that man, and therefore they, evolved from apes through natural selection over hundreds of thousands of years. Now that’s just plain crazy talk.

But now, thanks to research conducted at Harvard and MIT, comes scientific evidence that early man not only evolved from chimpanzees, but he also did WHAT with them?

A. Had them as pets
B. Ate them
C. Had sex with them
D. Prayed with them

C: Yes, thanks to the wonders of genetic anthropology, scientists now believe that well past the point in our evolution when primitive humans were walking upright, they were still having sex with — and interbreeding with — chimps, creating somewhat of a hybrid race before the two evolutionary lines ultimately went their separate way for good.

So, not only will our conservative Christian friends continue to lose sleep over the fact that they are descended from animals, but now they can also fret over the fact that their ancestors were still having “relations,” to put it politely, with those animals well after becoming human.

Monday, May 22, 2006

You're Fired!

Just when you thought the Roman Catholic Church couldn’t get any crazier…

1). Why was Kelly Romenesko, a lifelong Catholic, fired from her job as a French teacher at two Catholic schools in Appleton, WI?

A. She married her longtime boyfriend, who is Jewish
B. She aborted a fetus that tests confirmed would be born without a brain
C. She got pregnant using in vitro fertilization
D. She wrote a positive freelance movie review of “The Da Vinci Code” in the Appleton Gazette

2). What denomination is the church she now worships at?

A. Lutheran
B. Presbyterian
C. Unitarian
D. Jewish

1). C: Romenesko and her husband employed IVF — using her eggs and her husband’s sperm — to conceive. Shortly after announcing to her boss that she was pregnant, she was fired for not living up to Catholic doctrine.
2). A: No longer a Catholic, Romenesko now worships at the local Lutheran church.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Pat Race

These days we can hardly keep up Rev. Pat Robertson’s bizarre pronouncements. We’ve lost count, honest. From suggesting that U.S. agents should assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to saying that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s stroke was divine retribution for Israel’s pullout from the Gaza Strip, well, you see what we mean. Suffice it to say, Robertson is quite the firebrand.

And now we can add this one to the list. On May 8 Robertson, the founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, told viewers of his “The 700 Club” that he received some troubling information during his annual personal prayer retreat in January. He said that if he heard God correctly, the Big Man Upstairs told him that sometime in 2006 America would be hit with:

A. A bird flu pandemic
B. A series of dirty bomb attacks
C. A tsunami
D. An apocalyptic volcanic explosion in the Pacific Northwest


C: Tsunami. Robertson said: “If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms,” then he added, “There well may be something as bad as a tsunami in the Pacific Northwest.” Well Pat, if there is, we’re sure you’ll delight in reminding everybody that it’s God’s retribution. You're just that kind of giving guy!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Location, Location, Location

When Olivia Shelltrack and Fondrey Loving moved into a home in the St. Louis suburb of Black Jack with their three children, they received the shock of their lives. They found out the hard way that in Black Jack, there’s a law on the books that prohibits:

A. Unmarried couples with children living together
B. Putting out Easter decorations (specifically Easter bunnies and colored eggs) in front yards because it’s considered a “pagan” ritual
C. Allowing children to do homework or chores of any kind on the Sabbath
D. Cursing in public on the Sabbath

A: Olivia Shelltrack and Fondrey Loving were denied an occupancy permit after moving into a home in Black Jack because they have three children and are not married. The City Council has recently rejected a measure allowing unmarried couples with multiple children to live together, and Black Jack Mayor Norman McCourt said those who fall into that category could soon face eviction. The town’s Planning and Zoning Commission proposed a change in the law, but the measure was rejected Tuesday by the City Council in a 5-3 vote.

“I’m just shocked,” Shelltrack said. “I really thought this would all be over, and we could go on with our lives.”

The current ordinance prohibits more than three people from living together unless they are related by “blood, marriage or adoption.” The defeated measure would have changed the definition of a family to include unmarried couples with two or more children.

Apparently no one in Black Jack is too keen on that part Bible that reads: “Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke [reason with] thy neighbor, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord.”
— Leviticus 19: 17-18

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Breaking the Code

Reality check: the new film and the international bestseller of the same title, “The Da Vinci Code,” are works of fiction. But apparently the British are a lot more impressionable than we ever thought. A survey of readers from across the pond found that the book “The Da Vinci Code” had undermined faith in the Roman Catholic Church and badly damaged its credibility.

A prominent group of English Roman Catholic monks, theologians, nuns and members of Opus Dei have sought to promote Catholic beliefs at a time when the release of the film “The Da Vinci Code” has provoked a storm of controversy. It premieres at the Cannes Film Festival today. These religious groups have also commissioned a survey from leading pollster Opinion Research Business (ORB). Based on interviews with more than 1,000 adults last weekend, here’s what ORB found:

1) According to the ORB survey, people who have read Dan Brown’s blockbuster are TWICE as likely to think:

A. Jesus Christ was wealthy and had Jewish slaves
B. Jesus Christ fathered children
C. Jesus Christ was Roman
D. Jesus Christ never said he was the son of God

2) These same readers are now FOUR times as likely to think the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei is:

A. …embezzling money from the Church
B. …a breeding ground for perverted priests
C. …a charitable group that adheres to Catholic principles
D. …a murderous sect

3) True or False: These Catholic English groups have demanded that “The Da Vinci Code” movie, which is having its world premiere at the Cannes Film festival today, should carry a “health warning.”


1) B: The ORB survey found that a whopping 60 percent believed Jesus had children by Mary Magdalene — a possibility raised by the book — compared with just 30 percent of those who had not read the book.

2) D: The novel, which has sold more than 40 million copies, depicts Opus Dei as a ruthless organization whose members resort to murder to protect the Church’s secrets. According to the survey, 17 percent of readers believed the group had committed murder, compared with just four percent of non-readers. Opus Dei spokesman Jack Valero said he was astonished.

“Since we were founded in 1928, Opus Dei has promoted the highest moral standards at work, spreading a message of Christian love and understanding,” he said. “Yet ‘The Da Vinci Code’ has persuaded hundreds of thousands of people that we have blood on our hands.”

3) True. Guess they think watching the movie could lead to dry mouth and eternal damnation.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Camera Shy

Which college recently threatened its female students with possible suspension if they posed for Playboy magazine?

We’ll give you a hint: dancing was only allowed on this campus 10 years ago.

A. Liberty University
B. Brigham Young University
C. Baylor University
D. Notre Dame
E. Pepperdine University

C. Baylor, which proudly bills itself as the worlds largest Baptist college, and perhaps not coincidentally, is located in Waco, Texas.

Seems that Playboy photographers were in Waco recently seeking models for an upcoming issue focusing on women of the Big 12 (of which Baylor is a member).

This caused a Baylor administrator to send an e-mail to female students warning that any who “associates” with Playboy could face the university’s disciplinary procedure for violating its “code of conduct.”

Monday, May 15, 2006

Hot Spots

Because they don’t want to offend religious television viewers, all of the major broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox — have refused to run an ad that they find troublesome for THIS:

A. Hershey’s new decidedly adult alcoholic beverage, Mr. C
B. Afliqua, a sexual enhancement supplement for post-menopausal women
C. Ikea, which prominently features a gay couple in its new ad
D. Hooters, the bar and grill that features busty girls in wet t-shirts in its ad
E. The United Church of Christ, which features a cross section of Americans to promote inclusion

E: The United Church of Christ. The UCC’s “God is still speaking” campaign touts the organization’s message of inclusiveness, but it’s a message that apparently is too hot to handle. The ad shows a variety of people — from a single African-American woman with a baby, a gay couple, an elderly woman and a Middle Eastern-looking man — being ejected from the pews during a church service. Viacom’s gay-targeted cable channel, LOGO, has also rejected the ad, which bears the tagline, “God doesn’t reject people. Neither do we.”

The reason usually given or implied when the ad has been rejected is that it is insulting to other churches — presumably those that reject African-Americans, single mothers, gay couples, Arabs and senior citizens. A statement issued by MTV Networks, the parent company of LOGO, explained: “Our guidelines state we will not accept religious advertisements that may be deemed as disparaging to another religion.”

Friday, May 12, 2006

Chip's Ahoy!

We at Holier Than Thou just can’t get enough of stories like this.

Seems that over the Easter break, an elderly woman in Florida had just opened a bag of potato chips and was popping one into her mouth when her husband yelled out “stop!”

And there it was, on that very chip, plain for all to see (or at least for this couple), the image of a famed Christian figure in an iconic religious scene.

The religious chip found its way to the couple’s grandson, who is naturally offering it for sale on e-Bay, positing that “maybe this chip will help the winner live into their 80s, like my Grandparents.”

So, just what religious figure can be found on this holy-enough-to-sell-to-suckers-on-e-Bay potato chip?

We’ll even give you a hint: It’s not Jesus, nor is it the Virgin Mary — both of whom have been known to send messages to the faithful by appearing in artery-clogging snack foods.

A. Pope John Paul II sitting at his Vatican window
B. Mother Teresa healing a leper
C. Moses holding the 10 Commandments
D. Lott’s Wife turning to salt
E. Pat Robertson selling a can of Pat’s Age Defying Shake

C. Moses holding the 10 Commandments. So there you have it, dear reader, as the e-Bay posting says, “This is truly one of a kind. Bid with confidence.” We’ll pass.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Unlike A Virgin

Since their introduction in the early 1990s as part of the Christian Sex Education Project, “virginity pledges” have been hailed by the Christian right as a strong tool in decreasing sexual activity, unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers.

Yet a new study by Harvard University found that within a year of telling researchers that they had made the pledge, THIS percent of teens had gone ahead and had sex anyway.

A. 24 percent
B. 36 percent
C. 43 percent
D. 52 percent

D. 52 percent of pledge-making teens had broken their vows of celibacy within a year — that’s more than half of them! It’s enough to make us wonder if virginity pledges actually increased sexual activity among teens instead.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Higher Education

Forget about getting a liberal arts education at the University of the Cumberlands.

The Baptist college in Williamsburg, Ky. recently expelled sophomore theater arts major Jason Johnson because he…

A. Is Jewish
B. Is gay
C. Got his girlfriend pregnant
D. Took all of his clothes off during a school performance of the ’60s musical “Hair.”


B. Johnson is gay, and made the mistake of writing about that fact on the website

When school officials found out about it, they expelled Johnson, noting that University of the Cumberlands’ students are held to a “higher standard”…and leaving the upcoming school production of “As You Like It” without a stage manager.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Presidential Best

Recently our born-again president George W. Bush told a German newspaper that his most wonderful moment in more than five years in the White House was when he:

A. Prayed with the late Pope John Paul II and asked for God to protect and bless America from the evildoers.
B. Returned home from a Southern Baptist prayer group meeting and was greeted with the news that Saddam Hussein had been captured.
C. Caught a very big large mouth bass in his lake in Crawford, Texas.
D. Was told by his daughters that they’d re-dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ in the days following September 11, 2001.


C: The fish. President Bush told weekly Bild am Sonntag that: “The best moment was — you know, I've had a lot of great moments. I don't know, it’s hard to characterize the great moments. They’ve all been busy moments, by the way. I would say the best moment was when I caught a seven-and-a-half pound large mouth bass on my lake.” In case you think we’re making this up, we read the transcript of this interview at the, the official website of the White House.

We find this a startling answer given that the president is constantly talking to God and praising the Almighty. Think about it. Bush started a war so it’s natural to assume his best moment would be meeting with a brave, inspiring young soldier or perhaps the elections in Iraq or even vanquishing Saddam Hussein. But no, his best memory was catching a lousy large mouth bass from a lake he probably keeps stocked. Makes you wonder…

Monday, May 08, 2006

Christ Complex

Everybody might feel a little put upon at times, but few of us actually claim that our sorrows approach those of Jesus Christ’s.

So, today we will ask, what high-profile defendant recently likened his plight in court to the betrayal of Jesus?

A. Former Enron CEO Ken Lay
B. Former Vice Presidential Chief of Staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby
C. Cleveland priest and murder suspect Rev. Gerald Robinson
D. Washington DC sniper suspect John Allen Muhammad
E. Drug-abusing talk show host Rush Limbaugh

D. John Allen Muhammad, the DC sniper. We’re wondering why he didn’t liken his plight to that of Muhammad, the prophet after whom he is named.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Phoning It In

Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.) wants to bolster his chances of winning the upcoming May 16 primary in his state. And God knows, he needs help. Sherwood’s reputation took a beating (no pun intended) when he finally admitted to having a five-year affair with a younger woman who later sued him, accusing him of abuse, including choking her. The former couple reached an out-of-court settlement in November, and neither has disclosed any details.

So to polish up his image and invigorate voters, the sullied Sherwood has enlisted THIS outspoken poster boy of the Christian right to make automated phone calls to voters on his behalf that say, in part: “Today I’m calling to ask a favor of you… I need you to join me in supporting Don Sherwood for reelection.”

Who is Sherwood’s devout supporter?

A. Rick Santorum
B. Pat Robertson
C. Mel Gibson
D. James Dobson

A: Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), the outspoken conservative Catholic who’s always on the bandwagon about being virtuous and honoring good old Biblical values. His most recent book is titled: “It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good.” Funny, Santorum apparently doesn’t have a problem with a married man not only breaking his holy vows of marriage to his wife and God, but as if that weren’t enough, Sherwood was also allegedly beating his young mistress. Ah, the hypocrisy.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A Day to Remember

It’s May 4 and a very special, politically charged day for conservative Christians — and the rest of us be damned — because today is:

A. National Clergy Appreciation Day
B. According to ancient texts, the true day of Easter
C. National Day of Prayer
D. National Bible Study Day


C: National Day of Prayer. And while we could struggle for hours to come up with some pithy crack about today, we’ll let our born-again President George W. Bush himself do it. He gave an address at the White House this morning and here’s the text. After reading it, we can only assume that in our dear president’s worldview, atheists and agnostics aren’t true Americans. Well, read on and enjoy, if you can…

For Immediate Release May 4, 2006



East Room

9:44 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Welcome to the White House. I am really glad you're here. Thanks for coming. And I'm honored to join you for the National Day of Prayer. On this special day, we give thanks for the many ways that America has been blessed, and we acknowledge the Almighty, who is the source of these blessings.

I appreciate the Chairman of the National Day of Prayer, Shirley Dobson. I notice you brought your old husband with you, too. (Laughter.) Thank you for organizing this event here at the White House and around the nation.

Mrs. Bright, it's good to see you. Thank you, welcome. I'm glad you're back again. Dr. Blackaby, thank you very much, sir, for being the Honorary Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. And we welcome Marilynn, as well.

I want to thank the members of the Cabinet who are here. Thank you all for coming. I appreciate you taking time out of your day to be here to join.

I'm glad to see my friend, Archbishop Demetrios. How are you, sir? Thanks for coming. I appreciate the military chaplains who are here. Thanks for administering to the needs and souls of the men and women who wear the uniform. Yours is an important job, and I'm grateful, as your Commander-in-Chief, for what you do.

I want to thank Rabbi Ciment, Father Connor, and Jay Dennis for joining us. Thank you for your prayers and your strong statements.

I thank Rebecca St. James for your beautiful music. We're proud you're here. I want to thank those who accompanied you. About the coat -- (laughter) -- your answer is, it's the voice that matters. (Laughter.) And the spirit behind the voice.

And Gail, thank you for coming, as well. We're proud you're here. Thanks for sharing with us.

America is a nation of prayer. It's impossible to tell the story of our nation without telling the story of people who pray. The first pilgrims came to this land with a yearning for freedom. They stepped boldly onto the shores of a new world, and many of them fell to their knees to give thanks.

At decisive moments in our history and in quiet times around family tables, we are a people humbled and strengthened and blessed by prayer. During the darkest days of the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress and George Washington -- I call him the first George W. -- (laughter and applause) -- urged citizens to pray and to give thanks and to ask for God's protection.

More than two centuries since our first National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving, we continue to ask for God's guidance in our own lives and in the life our nation. Each year, thousands of citizens write letters and send cards to the White House that mention their prayers for this nation and this office.

In my travels across the great land, a comment that I hear often from our fellow citizens is, "Mr. President, I pray for you and your family." It's amazing how many times a total stranger walks up and says that to me. You'd think they'd say, "How about the bridge?" Or, "How about filling the potholes?" (Laughter.) No, they say, "I've come to tell you I pray for you, Mr. President."

And the only thing I know to do is to look at them in the eye and say, that is the greatest gift that a fellow citizen can do for those of us who have been entrusted to lead our country. And for that -- (applause.) And so I thank thanks -- I say thanks to the millions of Americans who pray each day for our nation, our troops, and our elected leaders.

Prayer is a gift from Almighty God that transforms us, whether we bow our heads in solitude, or offer swift and silent prayers in times of trial. Prayer humbles us by reminding us of our place in creation. Prayer strengthens us by reminding us that God loves and cares for each and every soul in His creation. And prayer blesses us by reminding us that there is a divine plan that stands above all human plans.

In the stillness and peace of prayer we surrender our will to God's will, and we learn to serve His eternal purposes. By opening ourselves to God's priorities, our hearts are stirred and we are inspired to action -- to feed the hungry, to reach out to the poor, to bring aid to a widow or to an orphan or to the less fortunate.

On this day, we also remember that we are a people united by our love for freedom, even when we differ in our personal beliefs. In America, we are free to profess any faith we choose, or no faith at all. What brings us together is our shared desire to answer the call to serve something greater than ourselves.

Over the past five years, I have watched the American people answer this call. Some serve their fellow man on distant shores, placing themselves in harm's way so that others might live in freedom. Others serve in our nation's armies of compassion, bringing comfort and kindness to suffering communities at home and abroad. In millions of acts of service, the American people have shown the good heart of our nation.

From our nation's prayerful beginnings, America has grown and prospered. Through prayer, we humbly recognize our continued dependence on divine providence.

I want to thank you all for keeping prayer a part of our national life. May God bless each one of you, and may God continue to bless our nation.

And now it is my honor to welcome Reverend Jay Dennis. (Applause.)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

An Apple a Day or Pray

Call us crazy, but when we at Holier Than Thou visit the doctor, the last thing we want to do is discuss religion. Anxiously wearing a paper dress while sitting on an examination table puts us in a decidedly stoic mood and definitely not chatty about issues like the existence of God and spirituality. But perhaps we’ll soon be in the minority.

According to a recent survey of 2,000 doctors by the University of Chicago there is an emerging view that in order to treat the whole patient, doctors should address religion and spirituality.

So, read the statements below and match them with the percentages.

1. This percentage of doctors say it’s always or usually appropriate to inquire about a patient’s religion or spirituality.
2. This percentage of doctors say it’s okay to discuss religion or spirituality when a patient brings it up.
3. This percentage of doctors say they often or always pray with patients.
4. This percentage of doctors say they sometimes pray with patients.
5. This percentage of doctors say they rarely pray or never pray with patients.

A. 4 percent
B. 15 percent
C. 91 percent
D. 81 percent
E. 55 percent


1. E: 55 percent
2. C: 91 percent
3. A: 4 percent
4. B: 15 percent
5. D: 81 percent

In response to the survey, Richard Sloan of Columbia University Medical Center and colleagues have written in the New England Journal of Medicine that doctors are not trained to give spiritual counseling. That job, he argues, is better left to health care chaplains. With typical office visits lasting fewer than 20 minutes, spending time on religion can result in medical concerns getting short shrift, Sloan said. Moreover, bringing up religion can violate patients’ privacy.

“Many patients regard their religious faith as even more personal and private than their health,” Sloan says.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Rising Stock

Score one for the good guys.

Which major corporation recently beat back a challenge from Christian Conservatives among its shareholders and will continue to sponsor the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago, as planned, to the tune of some $25,000?

A. Wal-Mart
B. Kraft Foods
C. General Motors
D. Starbucks


B. Kraft Foods. The challenge was lead by shareholder Dr. Marcella Meyer of Chicago, who proposed that Kraft “disassociate itself” from the Gay Games or any other event that supports gays and their lifestyle.

It was overwhelmingly rejected by the company and its other shareholders.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Shiva Me Timbers!

Why is it that religion, which is supposed to celebrate God’s goodness and mercy, often brings out the absolute worst in people?

Case in point, last week a fistfight broke out among mourners in an Orange County synagogue just before the body of Grand Rebbe Moses Teitelbaum was buried. The late rebbe was the leader of the 120,000-member, ultra-Orthodox Satmar and the violent clash, which required extra police to be called out, was about what?

A. The food served at the meeting hall after the funeral was not kosher.
B. The rebbe’s family was outraged when a member of the press tried to take a photograph of the deceased and attacked him.
C. A woman claiming to be the rebbe’s illegitimate daughter snuck into the funeral and wanted to sit with the family.
D. A family feud concerning who would take over the leadership of the Satmar group.


D: Big surprise, it was a family feud. And what a family feud, the Satmar group has assets of more than $500 million. The violent outburst played out even as the Teitelbaum family sat shiva at the late rebbe’s home in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The fight at Congregation Yetev Lev D'Satmar in Kiryas Joel was the latest example of the battle between the rebbe’s sons, Zalmen Teitelbaum, 53, the rebbe’s designated successor, and his brother Aron Teitelbaum, 57, the head of the sect’s Kiryas Joel congregation in Orange County. The older brother’s supporters say he has rejected the rabbinical court’s decision that Zalmen take the reins of the Satmar group and believes his father was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

Isaac Abraham, a Hasidic community leader in Brooklyn, said it might be a good idea to split the leadership between the two brothers. “Can this be done by one person? Impossible,” Abraham said. “This job is harder than the President’s.”