In a world dominated by magical thinking, superstition and religion, give yourself the benefit of doubt. This is one skeptic's view of the Universe.
"Tell people there’s an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure."
“If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed”.
“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
The person who is certain, and who claims divine warrant for his certainty, belongs now to the infancy of our species. It may be a long farewell, but it has begun and, like all farewells, should not be protracted.
A California pastor and two of his parishioners admitted to torturing a 13-year-old boy at a church-run group home in an attempt to “scare” him straight.
Lonny Remmers, 56, admitted to torturing the teen during a Bible study session. Remmers, the head of Hart Worship Community Church in the small town of Corona, ordered two men, Nicholas Craig, 24, and Darryll Jeter Jr., 30, to “scare” the boy straight because he was acting up. The boy was then driven to a remote area, beaten and forced to dig his own grave, according to court documents.
He was forced into the grave, while men threw dirt on him as if they would bury him alive. They then removed him from the hole, took him the home, allowed him to shower, and then rubbed salt into his wounds, the documents said.
They also tied him down and sprayed mace in his face, which caused his nose to bleed.
The next day the torture continued when they twisted the boy’s nipples with pliers in front of a dozen other men.
The three men pleaded guilty Monday to assault with a deadly weapon, inflicting corporal injury on a child and making criminal threats. They avoided a kidnapping charge by pleading guilty, the New York Daily News reports.
Remmers is expected to be sentenced to two years in prison. Craig and Jeter were given one year of home confinement and three years of probation.
The boy was allegedly brought to Remmer’s church, which has 15 to 20 members, by his mother. His mother and sister are both church members. The boy, who was not identified, had been confined to a men’s home as a disciplinary action.
Sean Ross Abbey, a home run by nuns in County Tipperary, from where 438 babies were secretly exported to the US for adoption. Photograph: Brian Lockier/www.adoptionrightsalliance.com
The bodies of 796 children, between the ages of two days and nine years old, have been found in a disused sewage tank in Tuam, County Galway. They died between 1925 and 1961 in a mother and baby home under the care of the Bon Secours nuns.
Locals have known about the grave since 1975, when two little boys, playing, broke apart the concrete slab covering it and discovered a tomb filled with small skeletons. A parish priest said prayers at the site, and it was sealed once more, the number of bodies below unknown, their names forgotten.
The Tuam historian Catherine Corless discovered the extent of the mass grave when she requested records of children’s deaths in the home. The registrar in Galway gave her almost 800. Shocked, she checked 100 of these against graveyard burials, and found only one little boy who had been returned to a family plot. The vast majority of the children’s remains, it seemed, were in the septic tank. Corless and a committee have been working tirelessly to raise money for a memorial that includes a plaque bearing each child’s name.
For those of you unfamiliar with how, until the 1990s, Ireland dealt with unmarried mothers and their children, here it is: the women were incarcerated in state-funded, church-run institutions called mother and baby homes or Magdalene asylums, where they worked to atone for their sins. Their children were taken from them.
According to Corless, death rates for children in the Tuam mother and baby home, and in similar institutions, were four to five times that of the general population. A health board report from 1944 on the Tuam home describes emaciated, potbellied children, mentally unwell mothers and appalling overcrowding. But, as Corless points out, this was no different to other homes in Ireland. They all had the same mentality: that these women and children should be punished.
Ireland knows all this. We know about the abuse women and children suffered at the hands of the clergy, abuse funded by a theocratic Irish state. What we didn’t know is that they threw dead children into unmarked mass graves. But we’re inured to these revelations by now…