‘Pastor’ took girl, 10, to bed

‘Pastor’ took girl, 10, to bed

MONTREAL – A self-described pastor who hoped his “marriage” to a 10-year-old girl he took to bed would convince a judge to acquit him on a sexual assault charge was sentenced to five years in prison on Monday.

Daniel Cormier, who was convicted last October following a lengthy trial, has a maximum of 49 months left behind bars because of time already served.

“I would say that there’s no remorse,” Crown prosecutor Anne-Andree Charette said outside the courtroom. “He just tried to find justifications.”

The Crown wanted the maximum prison term of 10 years, while a lawyer Cormier hired for sentencing arguments recommended between 30 months and four years behind bars, given Canadian jurisprudence..

The 57-year-old head of the now defunct Church of Downtown Montreal, who also once ran for mayor, has maintained he is not a pedophile and that he did nothing wrong as the pair were married during a ceremony at his obscure evangelical church in 1999.

Court heard he was lovestruck for the youngster.

During the trial, Quebec court Judge Sylvie Durand announced she would not hear testimony supporting his marriage defence.

The victim, who is now 19, testified she was too young to grasp the idea of marriage. She denied ever entering a union with him, but said she remembered the sexual abuse in vivid detail.

During the proceedings, court heard that Cormier’s church catered to the marginalized. Starting in 1993, he took the girl’s mother, a recovering junkie and prostitute, and her two daughters under his wing.

Relatives described Cormier as a father figure to the girls who were often invited to stay with him or go on vacation with him and other church members.

It was during such holidays that fellow parishioners became suspicious of Cormier’s relationship with the victim.

He was arrested in 2003 after a social worker notified police but the case progressed slowly through the courts as numerous motions were filed by both the Crown and Cormier, who represented himself at the trial.

When it came time for the victim to testify, she agreed to do so only via video link from an adjacent room and Cormier was barred from cross-examining her or her mother.

He declined to submit to the court an approved list of questions and rested his case without calling further witnesses or taking the stand himself.

At the time of his conviction, two additional charges of sexual touching and invitation to touching were dropped.

Cormier is currently on trial in another case involving a 16-year-old girl and could face additional jail time if convicted.

The alleged crimes, which Cormier denies committing, also date back to his time as a pastor.

Attenborough reveals creationist hate mail for not crediting God

Attenborough reveals creationist hate mail for not crediting God

Sir David Attenborough has revealed that he receives hate mail from viewers for failing to credit God in his documentaries. In an interview with this week’s Radio Times about his latest documentary, on Charles Darwin and natural selection, the broadcaster said: “They tell me to burn in hell and good riddance.”

Telling the magazine that he was asked why he did not give “credit” to God, Attenborough added: “They always mean beautiful things like hummingbirds. I always reply by saying that I think of a little child in east Africa with a worm burrowing through his eyeball. The worm cannot live in any other way, except by burrowing through eyeballs. I find that hard to reconcile with the notion of a divine and benevolent creator.”

Attenborough went further in his opposition to creationism, saying it was “terrible” when it was taught alongside evolution as an alternative perspective. “It’s like saying that two and two equals four, but if you wish to believe it, it could also be five … Evolution is not a theory; it is a fact, every bit as much as the historical fact that William the Conqueror landed in 1066.”

Attenborough, who attended the Wyggeston Grammar School for Boys in Leicester in the 1930s, said he was astonished at manifestations of Christian faith.

“It never really occurred to me to believe in God – and I had nothing to rebel against, my parents told me nothing whatsoever. But I do remember looking at my headmaster delivering a sermon, a classicist, extremely clever … and thinking, he can’t really believe all that, can he? How incredible!”

In 2002, Attenborough joined an effort by clerics and scientists to oppose the inclusion of creationism in the curriculum of state-funded independent schools receiving private sponsorship, such as the Emmanuel Schools Foundation.

Obama’s Nonbeliever Nod Unsettles Some

Obama’s Nonbeliever Nod Unsettles Some

Not everyone was happy with President Barack Obama’s nod to nonbelievers and non-Christians in his inaugural address. And some of the stiff criticism about Obama’s religious inclusiveness is coming from African-American Christians who maintain that no, all faiths were actually not created equal.

“For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness,” the new president said. “We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this earth,” he also said. Nothing too controversial, proclaiming that America’s strength lies in its diversity.

But between those two statements, the new president got specific: “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers.”

In his inaugural address, President Barack Obama celebrated America as a “nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and nonbelievers.” Some Christians are taking issue with the approach to inclusiveness, saying the president misrepresented America’s culture and heritage.

By mentioning, for the first time in an inaugural address, the 16.1 percent of Americans who check “no”’ when asked about religion, Obama turned it into the most controversial line in his speech — praised by The New York Times editorial board and cited by some Christians as evidence that he is a heretic, and in his well-spoken way, a serious threat.

With that one line, the president “seems to be trying to redefine American culture, which is distinctively Christian,” said’ Bishop E.W. Jackson of the Exodus Faith Ministries in Chesapeake, Va. “The overwhelming majority of Americans identify as Christians, and what disturbs me is that he seems to be trying to redefine who we are.’”

Earlier this week, Jackson was a guest on the popular conservative Christian radio show ‘Janet Parshall’s America,’ where a succession of callers, many of whom identified themselves as African-American, said they shared the concern, and were perplexed and put off by the president’s shout-out to nonbelievers.

Parshall noted that atheists were celebrating the unexpected mention, and indeed they were: “In his inaugural address … President Barack Obama did what many before him should have done, rightly citing the great diversity of America as part of the nation’s great strength, and including ‘nonbelievers’’ in that mix,’” said Ed Buckner of American Atheists.

“His mother would have been proud,”’ Buckner said, referring to the fact that Obama’s mother was not a church-goer. “And so are we.”

Jackson said he and others have no problem acknowledging that “this country is one in which everybody has the freedom to think what they want.’” Yet Obama crossed the line, in his view, in suggesting that all faiths (and none) were different roads to the same destination: “He made similar remarks in the campaign, and said, ‘We are no longer a Christian nation, if we ever were. We are a Jewish, Hindu and non-believing nation.’”

Not so, Jackson says: “Obviously, Jewish heritage is very much a part of Christianity; the Jewish Bible is part of our Bible. But Hindu, Muslim, and nonbelievers? I don’t think so. We are not a Muslim nation or a nonbelieving nation.”’

With all the focus on Obama as the first African-American president, the succession of black callers to Janet Parshall’s show was a reminder that the “community”’ is not a monolith, and that many socially conservative black Americans are at odds with Obama’s views, particularly on abortion and gay rights. Nor do they all define civil rights in the same way.

The Rev. Cecil Blye, pastor of More Grace Ministries Church in Louisville, Ky., said the president’s reference to nonbelievers also set off major alarm bells for him. “It’s important to understand the heritage of our country, and it’s a Judeo-Christian tradition,”’ period.

But his even bigger beef with the president, he said, is that a disproportionate number of “black kids are dying each day through abortion. President Obama is supportive of abortion, and that’s a genocide on black folks. Nobody wants to talk about that as a civil rights issue.”

Conservatives Lose First Evolution Vote in Texas

Conservatives Lose First Evolution Vote in Texas

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The drama over the potential inclusion of creationism or intelligent design in Texas biology curriculum is over for now as a coalition of six Democrats and two Republicans defeated an amendment that would have maintained discussion of evolution’s “weaknesses.”

The Texas vote on evolution was in the crosshairs of both state and national media this week because textbook publishers cater to Texas because of its high-volume purchases. If Texas chose to make significant changes to the science standards, other states would likely be forced to follow suit. The standards, once approved on final reading in March, will stand for 10 years.

Member Cynthia Dunbar (R-Richmond) made the motion for the controversial amendment, which was to re-incorporate the phrase “strengths and weaknesses” into the discussion of evolution in state biology curriculum. That’s the way the standard has been for at least 10 years now — with no real problems — but liberal lobbying groups such as the Texas Freedom Network fought against the inclusion of the language, saying it had become a code phrase used by groups such as the Discovery Institute to open the door to a discussion of intelligent design or creationism in the classroom.

Dunbar vehemently denied the issue of “strengths and weaknesses” had anything to do with religion. Instead, Dunbar said stripping the language would stifle academic freedom and force teachers to tell their students they could not discuss all sides to evolution in the classroom. She also said current standards had never faced a significant court challenge and were, therefore, safer.

Conservative groups have lobbied heavily against the change. During testimony yesterday, parent Angela Weissgarber accused those who wanted to strip the language of stifling free speech.

“Censoring our students ability to ask questions or participate in critical analysis in the theory of evolution smacks of ideologies that are not American,” Weissgarber said.

Bob Craig, who voted down Dunbar’s motion, said he was perfectly comfortable deleting the language, since other language supported evaluating all theories with scientific evidence. Craig said he didn’t want the science curriculum to be a repeat of last year’s English-language arts vote, in which SBOE members chose to overrule the wishes of the state’s English teachers on grammar.

Dunbar’s amendment failed initially, 7-7, as Rene Nunez (D-El Paso) was absent from the meeting at the time of the vote. Later, Nunez returned and cast a “no” vote, 7-8.

Those who joined Dunbar included Terri Leo (R-Spring), science teacher Barbara Cargill (R-The Woodlands), Gail Lowe (R-Lampasas), Don McLeroy (R-Bryan), David Bradley (R-Beaumont) and Ken Mercer (R-San Antonio).

While his colleagues carefully refrained from the use of the “R” word – religion — Mercer made passionate statements about the ability of Christians to understand evolution but support other theories. He noted persecution against Christians who failed to toe the evolution line.

That group of seven conservatives was enough for Dunbar to win her vote, as long as she picked up an additional Republican or Democrat. However, two moderate Republicans — Pat Hardy (R-Weatherford) and Geraldine “Tincy” Miller (R-Dallas) — sided with the Democrats on the vote against the strengths and weaknesses language. Rick Agosto, a Democrat out of San Antonio who is frequently the swing vote in favor of conservative motions, said he would have to represent the interests of his constituents and chose to vote with the anti-strengths and weaknesses bloc.

This is only the first of a number of votes on the science curriculum. Thursday’s meeting was the committee of the whole. Friday, the full board will pass language on first reading for the state’s science curriculum. In March, the full board will pass language on second, and final, reading.

Christian Terrorist Attack on Planned Parenthood

Don’t think for a second that this guy isn’t a terrorist, thankfully, no one was hurt; but that doesn’t change the nature of this guy’s crime.

SUV smashes into Planned Parenthood in St. Paul

On the 36th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, a man smashed his SUV into the entrance of the Planned Parenthood office in St. Paul this morning.

Although staff members have gotten used to protests, particularly on the anniversary of the ruling, “we certainly don’t expect this sort of thing,” said Sarah Stoesz, the president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. “”It’s never happened before and we don’t expect it to happen again.”

The 32-year-old man was arrested and is expected to  be charged Friday on suspicion of aggravated assault, said police spokesman Peter Panos.

“We think it’s intentional because of Roe vs. Wade,” Panos said. “He’s not saying much. He was praying or chanting when the officers arrived.”

Panos also said the incident was unusual. “Usually we have some demonstrations there on this day, but someone doing actual damage is very, very rare,” he said.

Several employees were in the building at the time, said Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Kathi Di Nicola. She said the SUV hit the front door of the clinic two or three times, damaging the clinic’s front door and surrounding stonework.

When Di Nicola arrived at the clinic, she said the man had gotten out of the SUV and was pacing around it, holding a crucifix and chanting. “He was agitated and he was saying, ‘shut down this Auschwitz,’ ” she said.

About 7:40 a.m., the man drove his truck onto the sidewalk in front of the office and rammed into the front door of the office on Ford Parkway, Panos said.

“The damage ended up being minor and things were cleaned up while we diverted patients to another entrance,” Stoesz said. “It shook people up a little bit, but the staff responded in a very calm way.”

‘God said she needed to be taken off road’

‘God said she needed to be taken off road’

A speeding pickup rear-ended a woman’s sedan on the South Side on Friday morning and sheriff’s officials say the driver said it was Jesus’ will because the other motorist was not “driving like a Christian.”

The bizarre incident that shut down southbound U.S. 281 above the Medina River happened about 7:25 a.m.

“He just said God said she wasn’t driving right, and she needed to be taken off the road,” said Lt. Kyle Coleman of the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office.

The driver of the pickup was identified in a Sheriff’s Office news release as Michael E. Schwab, 52, of Blooming Grove.

Schwab told first responders at the scene that “the other vehicle was not driving like a Christian and it was Jesus’ will for him to punish the car,” according to the release.

The 35-year-old woman was driving her sedan north when the pickup struck her vehicle. Schwab told deputies he was driving faster than 100 mph at the time, Coleman said.

The impact caused both vehicles to spin across a median before they came to a stop along a barrier in the southbound lanes. No other vehicles were involved.

Though both vehicles were badly damaged, the drivers suffered minor injuries.

“God must have been with them, ’cause any other time, the severity of this crash, it would have been a fatal,” Coleman said.

The woman was taken to a hospital as a precaution. Schwab was later charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, motor vehicle. His bond was set at $50,000, according to the news release.

The pickup driver did not specify for authorities how the woman was driving poorly. Investigators determined the female driver “had done nothing wrong,” according to the release.

Afghan girls maimed by acid vow to go to school

If you ever wondered why we have troops in Afghanistan, this is one of the reasons. I hope these guys get what’s coming to them.

Afghan girls maimed by acid vow to go to school

KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) — Shivering in pain and calling for her mother, Shamsia’s hands shake uncontrollably, her eyes swollen shut and her skin peeling from terrible acid burns.

The 19-year-old was heading to school along with her 16-year-old sister, Atifa, in Kandahar, Afghanistan. It was a warm November morning last year and their only anxiety was being late for class.

“We saw two men up ahead staring at us. One was standing off and the other one was on their motorcycle. I wanted to go but there was a black object in his hand and he took it out,” Atifa says.

The girls thought it was a water pistol.

“He grabbed my arm and asked, ‘Will you be going to school anymore?’ He then threw acid on my sister and threw acid on me,” Shamsia says.

They weren’t the only ones attacked that day. Several other teachers and students were targeted on their way to Meir Weis Mena School in Kandahar, the nation’s third-largest city and one where the Taliban have long been influential.

Atifa was burned so badly that her red scarf melted onto her dark brown hair.

Parents were so frightened that many students were kept at home for weeks afterward.

It’s not the first time girls in Afghanistan have been targeted for attending school. The Taliban have been responsible for dozens of attacks on girls’ schools and female teachers, but even they condemned this attack.

Kandahar was the headquarters for the Taliban during its five-year rule of Afghanistan and was home to Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Omar.

During that time, girls were forbidden to attend school. If they tried to get an education, they risked beatings by the religious police, or worse. Parents and family members were threatened, and sometimes killed, for allowing their girls the chance to be educated.

Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, the Afghan government has tried to extend access to education, with some success. About 6 million children attend schools throughout the country, 2 million of whom are girls, according to government figures.

The case of Shamsia and Atifa gained national and international attention. See how you can help

“A real man would never throw acid on the face of a little girl, a real man wouldn’t even want to make a little girl unhappy,” Afghan President Hamid Karzai said shortly after the attack. “Beside it being a cowardly act, it is an un-Islamic act.”

Laura Bush, the first lady of the United States at the time who advocated for the education of girls in Afghanistan, called the attacks a “cowardly and shameful” act.

“My heart goes out to the victims and their families as they recover from this cruel attack,” she said.

A few weeks after the attacks, the story took a strange turn.

The governor of Kandahar announced that 10 men had been arrested and some had confessed.

But none was seen until a video made by Afghan Intelligence was released by the Interior Ministry, and aired on Afghan State Television in late December.

One of the accused, Jalil, said in the video that a major in the ISI, or Pakistani intelligence unit, approached him and offered him the equivalent of $2,000 for each attack.

“He told me I will give 200,000 Pakistani rupees for a teacher’s death, 300,000 for burning a school, and 100,000 for throwing acid on a schoolgirl,” Jalil said, seeming frightened and agitated as he looked into the camera.

He said the major gave him a letter for the Pakistani Consulate in Kandahar, where he received the money.

But President Karzai seemed intent on defusing any tensions with Pakistan stirred by the release of the video.

During a news conference earlier this month in Kabul with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Karzai said that in this case, Pakistan displayed real cooperation to find the culprit. In the past, Karzai has often accused Pakistani officials of being involved in terrorism in Afghanistan and supporting the Taliban.

“For the first time, we had a very sincere and brotherly approach to the issue, which is of satisfaction to us and I hope we can succeed together,” Karzai said.

Pakistani officials tell CNN that the claims about the consulate’s involvement are “hogwash.”

For once, the attacks have not set off tit-for-tat accusations between the Afghan and Pakistani governments, as both countries deal with the extremists working to keep girls from getting an education.

None of the men who appeared on the video has had his day in court.

The victims have their own ideas for justice.

“Their punishment should be that they should have acid thrown on their faces in front of me. Just like they threw acid on me, we should throw acid on them,” Shamsia says.

But her greatest revenge, she says, is an education.

When asked if she would stop attending school, Shamsia was quick with her response. “Why wouldn’t I want to come to school? I want our country to persevere. I have to do something for my country, I must go to school.”

God Made My Plane Crash – THANK GOD!

God saved my life after he decided to make my plane crash in the Hudson river! I wasn’t a believer before, but since I survived (not because I had a good pilot), I praise and love God! Glory be to God!

Hudson River jet crash passenger: ‘Believe in angels’

From the bitter cold and ice enveloping New York City, they were headed south on US Airways Flight 1549, south to Charlotte, N.C. Some were making the two-hour flight on business, some for the pleasure of a golf trip where the day’s high would not be 15 degrees. One 85-year-old woman was flying the 660 miles for her great-grandson’s birthday.

A number of the passengers weren’t supposed to be on Flight 1549 at all. Their earlier flights had been canceled because of the weather.

So these 155 souls — passengers, pilots and flight crew — took off from LaGuardia Airport at 3:24 p.m. In the next six minutes, Flight 1549 crash-landed into the Hudson.

“There was a sudden jerk, it just felt like turbulence,” said Bill Zuhoski, 23, of Cutchogue, who was in seat 23A, well back of the wing on the plane’s left side. “No one thought anything of it until we started to go down.”

Jeff Kolodjay of Norwalk, Conn., was in seat 22A. He said he knew immediately that something was terribly wrong.

“I heard a loud explosion from the left side of the plane,” Kolodjay said. The smell of gas was strong.

Zuhoski said he “heard a stewardess looking for a fire extinguisher.”

Dave Sanderson, 47, a father of four headed home to Charlotte after one of his frequent business trips to the city, was sitting several rows forward of both Zuhoski and Kolodjay, and his experience was similar to Kolodjay’s.

“I heard an explosion and saw some flames coming from the left wing,” said Sanderson, who works for Oracle.

Kolodjay, going to Myrtle Beach, S.C., with his father and four other men on a golf outing, also spotted the telltale orange of flames.

“I could see fire, kind of, passing by my window,” he said.

Three minutes after takeoff, with Flight 1549 about five miles north of the airport, the pilot reported multiple bird strikes, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The pilot declared an emergency and hoped to return and land at LaGuardia. But the jet’s two engines were losing thrust, and air-traffic controllers said no runway was open.

At 3:30 p.m., controllers spotted the jet over the Hudson River, south of the George Washington Bridge. Between 300 and 400 feet, it disappeared from the radar screen.

“Brace for impact!” pilot Chesley Sullenberger commanded the passengers.

“Everybody started saying prayers,” Kolodjay said. ” ‘Brace for impact’ is not what you want to hear.”

Sanderson described the scene as “controlled chaos,” with everyone “running away from their seats” toward the rear of the aircraft.

“We didn’t know if we would be hitting water or land,” Zuhoski said. “People rushed to the back of the plane.”

The plane hit the water.

Vatican reveals secrets of worst sins

Vatican reveals secrets of worst sins

The Apostolic Penitentiary, or “tribunal of conscience”, has been shrouded in secrecy ever since it was established by Pope Alexander III in 1179 and until now has never provided details of the cases it scrutinises.

They are considered so heinous by the Catholic Church that only the Pope can grant absolution to those who perpetrate them.

But in an effort to present a more transparent image and to encourage more people to make confessions, the tribunal held a two-day conference in Rome in which it discussed its purpose and inner workings.

“Even though it’s the oldest department of the Holy See, it’s very little known – specifically because by its nature it deals with secret things,” said Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, the tribunal’s second most senior official.

While priests and bishops can deal with confessions of sins as grave as murder or even genocide, the tribunal is reserved for crimes which are viewed by the Church as even more serious.

They include attempting to assassinate the Pope, a priest abusing the confidentiality of the confessional by revealing the nature of the sin and the person who admitted to it, or a priest who has sex with someone and then offers forgiveness for the act.

A third type of case that comes before the tribunal involves a man who directly participates in an abortion – even by paying for it – who then seeks to become a priest or deacon.

“That is an irregularity and it means he should not receive the ordination without a dispensation from the Pope,” said Cardinal James Francis Stafford, the American who heads the Apostolic Penitentiary.

Defiling the Eucharist, which Catholics believe is the body and blood of Christ, is also considered a sin of extreme gravity and one which is on the increase, the high-ranking members of the tribunal said.

Cardinal Stafford said there had been a rise in incidents in which people would receive Communion and then spit it out or otherwise desecrate it, sometimes in Satanic rituals.

In July last year an American academic, to make a point about freedom of thought and religion, drove a nail through a Communion wafer and then threw it in a rubbish bin.

Paul Myers, from the University of Minnesota, said later: “I pierced it with a rusty nail. Then I simply threw it in the trash. Question everything. God is not great, Jesus is not your Lord.”

Such sins, which can only be dealt with by the Pope, acting through the tribunal, bring automatic excommunication from the Church. If the Pope decides to grant absolution, the excommunication is lifted.

A study by Italy’s Sacred Heart University found that 47 per cent of Italians either never go to confession or last did so a long time ago.