Sunday Cult News

cult – n. A particular form or system of religious worship; esp. in reference to its external rites and ceremonies. -Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. 1989

Here’s a brief look at what’s going on with various cults and cult leaders around the world in the last week or two.

The Cult of Scientology
Xenu.net is the best place to find all the accurate, up-to-date, and embarrassing to the cult’s adherent’s information. On that domain is a list of quotes [1] from judges and court officials from around the world. Here’s an excerpt:

“Scientology is evil; its techniques are evil; its practice is a serious threat to the community, medically, morally, and socially; and its adherents are sadly deluded and often mentally ill… (Scientology is) the world’s largest organization of unqualified persons engaged in the practice of dangerous techniques which masquerade as mental therapy.” –Justice Anderson, Supreme Court, Australia

“[The court record is] replete with evidence [that Scientology] is nothing in reality but a vast enterprise to extract the maximum amount of money from its adepts by pseudo scientific theories… and to exercise a kind of blackmail against persons who do not wish to continue with their sect….” –Judge Breckenridge, Los Angeles Superior Court

“It is dangerous because it is out to capture people and to indoctrinate and brainwash them so they become the unquestioning captives and tools of the cult, withdrawn from ordinary thought, living, and relationships with others.” –Justice Latey, High Court of London

The cult of Scientology has an obvious appeal to celebrities, which makes sense for several reasons: good PR; celebrities have lots of money to scam from them; people want to be like their favorite celebrities; celebrities come with fan-bases which offer a source of potential marks to con money from; etc. Everyone knows about nuts like Tom Cruise, Kirsty Alley, Vinnie Barbarino and Will Smith (the list goes on), but you might not know about lesser known celebrities like Jodhi Meares [2]. Her career is “ailing,” she’s suffering from a breakup with her husband, and just gets deeper and deeper involved with the cult (meaning, they get more and more of her money).

But if getting good PR from celebrities isn’t enough, the cult of Scientology can also just generate its own PR. By lying and stealing.

In case you weren’t aware, the cult employs what it calls “volunteer ministers” which rush in to “assist” whenever there are disasters or tragedies, basically exploiting the suffering of others for their own gain by getting in the way and preventing legitimate first responders from doing their work. The cult then takes credit by announcing their “good deeds” to the world. Among their goals is to block and prevent real psychologists and and real counselors from providing assistance. This is actually a goal.

So, when a flake that buys into their cult nonsense comes along and gives the Church of Scientology the Medal of Valor for their “service” [3] did anyone in the cult mind that this flake wasn’t in an official position to give an award that “has been awarded POSTHUMOUSLY and EXCLUSIVELY for line of duty death?” … or that the award carried any more weight or meaning that a $3 bill with Clinton’s face on it? Nope. I suppose when you’re a fake religion having a fake award and being proud of it is par for the course.

The Messiah-with-a-hardon Cult

Wayne Bent is cult leader and sexual abuser of children that has his followers convinced he’s the Messiah. If it weren’t for the tragedy and trauma experienced by the kids involved in the case, it would be comedic. The worse part of it is that Bent is apparently in communication with his victims, so perhaps his legal strategy is to continue with the brainwashing and indoctrination and with the pressure from his followers to avoid jail time. I won’t be surprised if when this goes to trial the victims have a change in their story. Sad stuff. How do his followers deal with it? By participating in a “word fast” -at least when it comes to speaking with prosecutors and the press.

The Mormon Cult
From the Beat-the-dead-horse-with-a-stick dept.: Warren Jeffs, already incarcerated, joins 5 others indicted by a Texas Grand Jury for charges that include felony sexual assault of a child [5]. Get your magic underwear on, Warren. Looks like they may extradite you from your Arizona Jail cell to face charges here in Texas. The “real Christians” here don’t cotton to “fake Christians” like Mormons.

The “Real Christian” Cults
I recently wrote about the Texas girl that was assaulted by religious nuts that forced her to participate in witchcraft ritual known as an “exorcism” (only the members of the cult don’t consider it witchcraft). The experience has left her father, who was once a missionary and a minister, agnostic in his religious beliefs. It’s left the girl, Laura, traumatized. She attempted to slit her wrists with a box-cutter after the so-called “exorcism.”

The Texas Supreme Court dismissed her lawsuit against the church last month, so the Pearson, 17 at the time of the abuse but now 29, says she and her parents are willing to take the issue to the United States Supreme court [6]. She states, “You can’t use your religious beliefs to get away with harming a child.”

I say, more power to you. Texas, through its Supreme Court, has stated it’s okay to abuse kids in the name of religion as long as sex isn’t involved. Typical of the Christian cults.

Televangelist Cults
Who wants to be a millionaire? If you have your credit card handy, all you need to do is make a $1000.00 donation to the Benny Hinn during his “South Africa Miracle Cursade” and you will earn a “special blessing” [7]. Apparently this special blessing from God will last only two minutes but would “create 500 churchgoing millionaires or even billionaires.” One of Hinn’s minions had credit card machines ready and told people that God would bless their credit cards “and they would be able to rule over South Africa with their money.”

It never ends.

There is more. Believe me. There is plenty more. But I’m out of time for the day. I’ll save a few of the others I marked this week for next time.

References and Sources

1. Xenu.net (2008). What the judges have to say about Scientology. Found online at: http://www.xenu.net/archive/disk/archive/quotes.htm

2. News.com.au (2008, July 25). Stressed Jodhi Meares takes comfort in Scientology. News.com.au. Found online at: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/story/0,26278,24074268-10388,00.html

3. von Marcab, Lily (2008, July 19). Scientology Cult Fraudulently Claims “Medal of Valor” from New York Fire Department. The San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center (Indybay). Found online at: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/07/19/18517551.php

4. KOAT.com (2008, July 18). Cult Leader Appears in District Court. KOAT.com. Found online at: http://www.koat.com/news/16926528/detail.html

5. Ramshaw, Emily (2008, July 23). Grand jury indicts six people from West Texas polygamist sect. Dallas Morning News. Found online at: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/072208dntexpolygamy.7a60fc1c.html

6. Baker, Max (2008, Jul 27). Family resolves to take fight over exorcism to Supreme Court. Fort Worth Star Telegram. Found online at: http://www.star-telegram.com/state_news/story/786870.html

7. News24.com (2008, Jul 20). ‘God Bless Your Credit Card.’ News24.c0m. Found online at: http://www.news24.com/News24/South_Africa/News/0,,2-7-1442_2360893,00.html

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John Wiley Price is an Idiot

I’m sorry, but I just had to say it.

This story got past me earlier this month, even though it was local news. I heard it mentioned on The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe podcast that was released earlier this week.

For those that don’t live in Dallas County, Texas, John Wiley Price is a nobody. Indeed, for many in Dallas County he’s also nobody, but his stupidity earlier in the month of July should reveal it to the rest.

Price reacted illogically, irrationally, and, perhaps, with the deliberate intention to race bait another Dallas County politician during a recent county meeting regarding traffic tickets. Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield remarked that the central collections for the county was “a blackhole” since so much paperwork gets lost within its office.

This is where John Wiley Price’s ignorance and/or stupidity comes in. Price responded with (probably feigned) indignation and said, “excuse me!” then stating that the office is a “white hole.” Price and a judge in the meeting then proceeded to demand an apology from Mayfield for his “racist” remark.

I didn’t read each comment that followed the Dallas Morning News blog post linked above, but the first dozen or so I read were overwhelmingly critical of Price -and rightly so.

This sort of nonsensical race-baiting does nothing but perpetuate tensions between races, which assholes like Price capitalize upon for their own gain. And it cheapens and degrades genuine racial issues that actually do exist in the county both within politicians and citizens.

The very first commenters at that blog got it exactly right: Price’s response makes him out to be either more ignorant than the average 5th grader or a bigoted race-baiter and, as the commenter concluded, there really isn’t any other choice. I would add that either choice also makes him incompetent for the job he was elected to.

And for citizens of Dallas County, he’s an embarassment.

C Kroll Returns

Chuck Kroll has returned with a follow up post you can find here. I’ve posted a response just a few comments below that. Here’s an excerpt from his latest comments:

I do hope that Mr. Myers will be removed from his position as a teacher, for his obvious lack of tolerance towards others, and the fact that he used a state funded website to broadcast his hateful teachings. God only knows what he talks about in class.

I do believe that what I did was wrong, that is no way to speak to anyone, even if you do no Agree with them. But this was not about debate, or a free exchange of ideas or that Myers is an atheist, it is what he promotes (and he does not have a right to, not in the classroom, or in print.) That is, the desecration of anyone’s religion in this country.

Among the comments in my response, I’ve attempted to educate Mr. Kroll both as to the nature of Prof. Myers’ blog and how it isn’t “state funded” and as to the nature of what it means to have Freedom of Speech. I doubt, however, either attempts will sway Kroll or those like him of irrational thought, since they live in fabricated realities that are constructed of false dichotomies and spells of thinking that inhibit change or progress.

Doubtless, Kroll is sincere in his desire to have Myers “removed from his position” since those that promote free thought, rational discourse and knowledge that breaks the spells of afflictions to humanity like religion are feared by those that prefer their thinking done for them. Statements like this, I realize, are readily abundant on crank and pseudoscience sites where nutters speak of the “close-mindedness” of skeptics, but the difference is that rational discourse and thought can be defended. Cranks and the superstitious are consistently unable to justify their beliefs and “knowledge” rationally -instead they must rely on myth, fantasy, and delusion.

This, after all is the crux of the issue at hand: superstitious people clinging to deluded and irrational beliefs about a cracker becoming the “body of Christ.” What utter and complete nonsense. And to become upset enough to threaten the life of someone who states they are willing to use such a cracker for whatever purpose they desire is the act of a nut.

Sunday Cult Watch

cult – n. A particular form or system of religious worship; esp. in reference to its external rites and ceremonies. -Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. 1989

Here’s a brief look at what’s going on with various cults and cult leaders around the world in the last week or two.

Warren Jeffs and the Mormon cult (U.S.)

Jeffs is (or at least was) the leader of a sect within the Mormon cult, which approves of child rape and polygamy. It turns out [1] that he actually married off his 15 year old daughter to a 34 year old man (the son of his “chief deputy” of the sect within a cult). “[P]ictures, diaries and a marriage record” recently obtained by the Houston Chronicle show that authorities are still pursuing additional charges against Jeffs -as well they should. The majority of the Mormon cult, it should be noted, doesn’t embrace polygamy and rape.

Previously, the daughter’s attorney refused to testify [2], asserting attorney-client privilege, regarding the case. Both of the above sources report that Theresa Jeffs, the daughter of Warren Jeffs, wanted a new attorney because of conflicts, but the first reports that the attorney was looking for a restraining order against “Willie Jessop,” who she charged was intimidating the girl as a witness. I couldn’t find any confirmation, but it seems reasonable to conclude that “Willie Jessop” is the son of William E. Jessop, and a long-time patriarch of the cult. So this may very well be the “husband.” If so, he’s a true nutjob if the Austin television station, KXAN, has the scorecard right [3]. Apparently, “Willie the Thug” has a “passion for violence, weapons, and explosives” and was banned from Jeff’s court proceedings because of witness intimidation.

Jeffs has maintained throughout that he never married his underage daughter off to an adult to be raped, so the new documents that have come to light are new evidence which shows not only that he did but that this isn’t just a one-off within the cult -the trail of documents implicates many and creates a situation where people were complicit and knowledgeable of these crimes.

So how’s Jeffs taking it all? He was transported to the hospital a couple of weeks ago, around the time this information was coming to light, after being found in his cell convulsing and running a fever. He was released a few days later. Jeffs has attempted suicide in the past [4] and I’d be willing to bet he poisoned himself somehow.

Demonic Possession within a Christian Cult of Pentecosts  (Australia)

The Mercy Ministries has closed two of it’s facilities in Australia due to financial problems [5], but it’s Queensland facility remains open for the business of “treating” mental illness and dysfunctions through “prayer” and “exorcism.” One of the ministries’ victims recounts through the source cited above a desire to get help for her anxiety disorder and panic attacks. She was attracted to the Mercy Ministries because they advertised “free treatment” for her disorders but:

[…] she quickly became disheartened after “free” meant signing over her Centrelink payments to the group and “treatment” didn’t include proper access to doctors, psychologists and social workers.

“The ‘counsellor’ I had was not qualified to treat mental illness… nobody there was. She was in the middle of a mercy ‘in-house program’ to teach her how to prayer counsel,” says Smith.

“I spent months there and the only ‘therapy’ I had was prayer readings and an exorcism.”

Colonia Dignidad Leader Jailed for Torturing Children (Chile)

What do you get when you mix a former corporal in Adolf Hitler’s army with religion and give him a “sealed off complex” and a bunch of kids? You don’t want to know the answer [6]. Paul Schaefer was sentenced to 3 years and 1 day for torturing children in Chile. Apparently, he gave 8 kids psychotropic drugs and electroshock therapy from 1970 to 1980 at a religious commune he started in the 1960s. From this commune he led a group of followers and preached “rigid morality” while physically and sexually abusing children in the “sealed off complex.”

Cult on Cult Action – Raelians vs. Catholics (Australia)

A group of gay Raelians attacked the Pope and the Catholic church last week. If you have the same sense of humor I have, then your first thought might have been like mine: picturing a “queer-eye for the Catholic-guy” makeover on the Pope and a local church. It seems as that might have been tame compared to what really happened. They demonstrated outside the Parliament house for equal recognition for their own cult and their cult leader, Rael [7]. Spokeswoman Eden Bates said she was insulted that “our gorgeous, fantastic spiritual leader Rael wasn’t even given the respect of a visa. I’m not Catholic, I’m Raelian and I’d like to see police escorts for our beautiful profit when he comes to Australia.” When asked the difference between the two cults, Bates said:

“We are an international, non-profit organisaton that understands that we have been created by an advanced civilisation that came to this planet 25,000 years ago and created everything that we are and everything we see around us.”

What the Raelians believe is that humanity was created specially just a few thousand years ago instead of evolving gradually over millions of years and that some god-like deities took a special interest in us. All without a shred of physical evidence? In other words, there’s no difference between Raelians and Catholics. They’re both batshit. At least Raelians don’t think a cracker will turn into the body of a dead guy in your mouth like some sort of perverted candy that transsubstantiates in your mouth, not in your hands.

Hey Kool-Aid! It’s Jesus-Fucking-Christ! (Houston, TX)

Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is a former heroin addict and now claims to be Jesus Christ [8]. No shit. And it almost isn’t comical when your realize that he has a following of thousands in over 300 “learning centers” worldwide. His followers donate millions of dollars to him each year; the guy wears Rolex watches and designer suits and has other Christian cults hopping mad! Christian cults like Methodists, Episcopalians, Mormons and Catholics would be mad enough just having someone claim to be their god on Earth in the Second Coming, but apparently his followers also go to other religious events and wreak havoc. There’s apparently no love or tolerance being taught -quite the opposite: Miranda teaches that the other cults are wrong (you think?) and that his is the “true” cult (right.), so it’s okay to disrupt and destroy them as enemies.

Doomsday Cult Leader in Court (Russia)

Pyotr Kuznetsov didn’t follow his followers into the bunker they built for the coming apocalypse. Instead, he took their money and assets instead. Meanwhile, the cult members were all tucked unsafely in a bunker built underground in a ravine, threatening mass suicide if authorities dared disturb them. They eventually emerged, among them four children, after snow melt began flooding the bunker. Their already disturbed leader was jailed and spent time in a psychiatric asylum until his trial begins at the psychiatric hospital. Two women died in the bunker, exact causes unknown [9].

God and Guns – The Baptist Cult (Oklahoma, USA)

The Windsor Hills Baptist Church canceled its plans to giveaway a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle to a “lucky” teenager [10]. In case you’re wondering, it wasn’t because the church realized it mightn’t be morally sound or a reasoned giveaway item for a teen when compared with an iPod or even a laptop computer as a means to drum up attendance among teens. Apparently, the reason was that one of the event organizers could’t attend, so the church plans to give the gun away next year instead. To a teenager.

To quote a nut from this cult: “[we are] putting a weapon in the hand of somebody that doesn’t respect it who are then going to go out and kill.” One is left to wonder how it is that this guy professes to know the mind of a teenager well enough to award said teen with a weapon designed to do nothing other than kill other people in the most economical and efficient means possible. If the church couldn’t afford an iPod or a laptop, and really MUST stick to a firearm since it hosts an annual shooting competition, aren’t there some very good sporting models made by Remington they could have chose?

*********************

That’s the Sunday Cult news for this week. I’m thinking of making this a weekly series, so if you have any comments, suggestions or ideas, comment here or email me at ylooshi AT gmail DOT com.

Sources and References

1. Langford, Terri (2008, Jul 19). Documents could play role in criminal probe of FLDS sect. Houston Chronicle. Found online at: http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/5895744.html

2. Adams, Brooke (2008, Jun 27). Attorney for Jeffs’ daughter refuses to talk. Salt Lake Tribune. Found online at: http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_9714570

3. KXAN.com (2008, Jun 23). Letter on FLDS persons of interest. Austin News KXAN.com. Found online at: http://www.kxan.com/Global/story.asp?S=8544087&nav=menu73_2_9

4. AP News (2008, Jul 11). Warren Jeffs found Convulsing in Jail Cell, Transferred to Hospital. AP News Wire via FoxNews.com. Found online at: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,380762,00.html

5. Brunero, Tim (2008, Jul 18). How to Cure Anorexia with Exorcisms. Live News. Found online at: http://www.livenews.com.au/Articles/2008/07/18/How_to_cure_anorexia_with_exorcisms_101

6. AAP (2008, Jul 12). Commune Head Sentenced for Child Torture. AAP News Wire via Sydney Morning Herald. Found online at: http://news.smh.com.au/world/commune-head-sentenced-for-child-torture-20080712-3dx1.html#

7. Hildebrand, Joe (2008, Jul 9). Glamour Lesbians Attack Pope and Catholic Church. The Daily Telegraph. Found online at: http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,23994345-5006009,00.html

8. Peters, Kevin (2008, Jul 14). Man who says he’s Jebus spreads controversial message in Houston. Texas Cable News. Found online at: http://www.txcn.com/sharedcontent/dws/txcn/houston/stories/khou080714_tnt_miranda.5447ee70.html

9. RT (2008, Jul 15). Doomsday Cult Leader Stands Trial. Russia Today. Found online at: http://www.russiatoday.ru/news/news/27510

10. UPI (2008). Church cancels semi-automatic assault rifle giveaway. KFI-AM640. Found online at: http://kfiam640.com/cc-common/news/sections/newsarticle.html?feed=104673&article=3949295

Religion Doesn’t Get a Free Ride

Sorry, but it just doesn’t.

There are more comments in the 1800Flowers.com post than any other on Breaking Spells (and I’m not ashamed to admit the Pharyngula Effect is fun while it lasts) and some of them revolve around the issue of “respecting” religious superstitions and not speaking out about nonsense and irrational ideas in favor of considering the sensibilities of the superstitious themselves.

Bullshit. I’m sorry, but that’s not how it works. You don’t get to hold or have a batshit idea that you’re willing to spread, indoctrinate, or otherwise compell others to agree with and still be protected from rational criticism or even ridicule.

Its no different than if someone held a belief that Elvis was still alive and abducting hillbillies from his UFO and not only expected others to believe it but wanted to enact laws that protected and promoted this ideology as fact. Anyone would be well within their rights to criticize this notion and ridicule would be expected.

A eucharist cracker is just flour and water. Anyone that truly believes that the mere act of consuming a cracker after a magical spell spoken over it becomes the flesh of Christ is not only ignorant and deluded, they’re batshit. Have these people ever stopped to consider that, if true, they would eventually be defecating Christ? Talk about “holy shit.”

Back to the comments.

At least one person here and several on Pharyngula and elsewhere commented that PZ shouldn’t disrespect the religious. And it’s a common response by believers, adherents, apologetics, and even sympathetic non-believers that atheists shouldn’t criticize the beliefs of others. There’s a taboo of even questioning religious doctrine in public. When critics and skeptics do question and criticize, they get accused of being “militant,” “shrill,” a part of an “anti-religious kabal,” etc.

Never is the superstitious person (a.k.a. the irrational believer/adherent) held accountable in such a fashion for criticizing atheism -the complete lack of a god belief. Indeed, religious nuts are completely free to ridicule atheism, protected by the comfort of their numbers. But the large quantity of believers doesn’t imply that religious belief is valid, sound, or cogent. At one time, most people in the world believed the sun revolved around the Earth. Their majority status most assuredly did not make them right.

Religious superstitions are just as open to question, criticism, and ridicule as any other human institution or ideal. Political beliefs, economic beliefs, social beliefs… even the belief in a favorite sports team are all open to debate, criticism, inquiry and ridicule. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have multiple political parties, a need for a prime interest rate, a reason to evaluate historical and anthropological data, or to wear a favorite jersey the day of the big game.

There mere fact that religion takes such a major and significant part in the lives of so many people makes it even more open to question, criticism, inquiry and, yes, even ridicule. If you aren’t willing to accept this, keep your religious superstitions to yourself; keep them private; and be embarassed for your lack of rational and critical thought. For, if you are publicly proud, you must be prepared to be publicly criticized.

Employee of 1800Flowers.com Issues Death Threats to Professor

Well, to be fair, the death threats were probably not a board decision. They appear to originate from a single, deranged employee named Melanie Kroll who is upset that PZ Myers, a professor of biology, was disrespectful to a cracker.

Actually, it isn’t really a cracker.

For those not up to speed on the developments of late with the Eucharist cracker fiasco being hotly discussed on the blogosphere, let me point you first to Gred Laden’s blog, where he has a list of relevant links. But here’s the gist:

A young man in Florida attends Communion at a local Catholic church and, when given the Eucharist (a little piece of tasteless cracker which is alleged by the superstitious to become the body of Christ after ingested), this young man absconds with the cracker tucked safely in a ziplock bag. He’s confronted and agrees to return it. It would seem that his intent was *not* to offend or desecrate. Nutjobs, whackos, and all-around assholes that consider themselves to be “true Catholics” had a different persepctive, however. They accused the young man of “kidnapping the host” and committing a “hate crime.” This, of course, is an insult to the victims and families of any real kidnappings and hate crimes.

PZ’s response was It’s Just a Fracking Cracker, which was one of the longest discussion threads I’ve ever seen on a blog. So long, in fact, he had to close it and begin a new one because of bandwidth issues. Among the comments in each of his posts were the occasional nutter that believes in the completely batshit idea that eating a cracker after a priest says a few magical words equates to eating the body of Jesus Christ. These nutters ranged from “you’ve blasphemed my religion and I’m praying for you,” to actual threats of violence.

And PZ has a policy that if he gets such threats that he will post the full emails, including headers showing IP addresses. And he did.

From: mkroll@1800FLOWERS.com
Subject: your short life
Date: July 13, 2008 8:07:31 AM CDT

[…]

Paul,

what I would like to know is how did you even
get a job at a collage.

when you are obviously a moron.
How would you feel if nice folks starting ranting against
Fags, and atheist like yourself.

well sir, you don’t get to blaspheme and walk away from this.
You have two choices my fucked up friend, first you can quit your job for the good of the
children. Or you can get your brains beat in.

I give you till the first of the month, get that resignation in cunt

I kid you not. It turns out, one of Pharyngula’s commenters sent an email to the address listed and it comes back as belonging to Melanie Kroll who is “out of the office” over the weekend. Moreover, the email ends with the proprietary disclosure that starts, “This e-mail, including attachments, may include confidential and/or proprietary information, and may be used only by..." that is so common at the end of corporate emails and often added as default signatures without the sender's knowledge since it's configured by the corporate IT nerds. Not to mention that another of Pharyngula's commenters took the opportunity to do the Whois and domain searches on the IP address breadcrumbs in the original header (click the link above) and found it originates with 1800FLowers.com.

So, while death threats probably aren’t an actual corporate policy for 1800Flowers.com, it would certainly see that they are willing to employ individuals for whom it is. If that employee isn’t terminated, would this mean that 1800Flowers.com offers tacit approval of death threats to university professors? What of other potential customers of 1800Flowers.com? Would they also be fair game for death threats as a response to holding opinions that run counter to 1800Flowers.com employees?

I think I’ll be buying my floral arrangements from elsewhere.

EDIT (7/14/08): As the first three commenters below pointed out, we really cannot blame Melanie Kroll with any useful probability. The only thing that can truly be said at this time is that the email orginated at 1800Flowers.com. At the very least, Ms. Kroll is guilty of not securing here workspace, but she may very well be a victim of having her email account used by another employee.

Its still very likely an employee, so the title of this post is still accurate. And I still doubt I’ll use 1800Flowers.com.

Templeton Founder Dead

The Templeton Prize is worth $2 million, intentionally more than the Nobel (about $1.5 million). The thought was that it would send the message that “spiritual” matters are worth more than “scientific.” The result, intentional or not, is an attempt to undermine science with religious superstition. Ironic, since the purported goals of the Templeton Foundation includes the reconciliation of science and religion. The foundation’s primary mission is to explore “the big questions” regarding the universe, life, and everything.

There have been many critics of the Templeton Prize, perhaps none so notable as Richard Dawkins, who wrote in The God Delusion this of Prize winner Paul Davies, author of The Mind of God

[It] seems to hover somewhere between Einsteinian pantheism and an obscure form of deism – for which he was rewarded with the Templeton Prize (a very large sum of money given annually by the  Templeton Foundation, usually to a scientist who is prepared to say something nice about religion).

Dawkins also criticizes the Templeton Foundations support of the 2006 study by Herbert Benson on the efficacy of prayer, which basically showed that there was no efficacy to prayer.The important point to this is that it shows that the Foundation’s goals do indeed include supporting religious superstition in spite of their repeated insistence that they “support” science and are not a religious organization.

Reported to have been a “a very nice fellow” [Pharyngula], Templeton Foundation creator, Sir John Templeton, died today at age 95 of complications associated with pneumonia.

Reference:

Benson, H., et al. (2006) ‘Study of the therapeutic effects of intercessory prayer (STEP) in cardiac bypass patients’, American Heart Journal 151 (4), 934-42.