Culture minister calls for creationism displays

Culture minister calls for creationism displays

NORTHERN Ireland’s Culture Minister has called on the local Ulster Museum to put on exhibits reflecting the view that the world was made by God only several thousand years ago.

Nelson McCausland, a born-again Christian who believes that Ulster Protestants are one of the lost tribes of Israel, has written to the museum’s board of trustees urging them to reflect creationist and intelligent design theories of the universe’s origins.

The minister, a member of the Democratic Unionist Party, said the inclusion of anti-Darwinian theories in the museum was ”a human rights issue”.

Mr McCausland defended a letter he wrote to the trustees calling for anti-evolution exhibitions at the museum. He claimed around one-third of Northern Ireland’s population believed either in intelligent design or that the universe was created about 6000 years ago.

Mr McCausland denied he was trying to dictate the content of material on the origins of life to the Ulster Museum, saying he was merely calling for the museum to reflect the diversity of views on how the universe was created within the province.

His call was condemned by evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins. ”If the museum was to go down that road then perhaps they should bring in the stork theory of where babies come from. Or perhaps the museum should introduce the flat Earth theory.”

Mr McCausland’s party colleague and member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for North Antrim, Mervyn Storey, has been at the forefront of a campaign to force museums in Northern Ireland to promote anti-Darwinian theories.

Mr Storey, who has chaired the Northern Ireland Assembly’s education committee, believes in the theory that the world was created several thousand years ago, even though the most famous attraction in his constituency – the Giant’s Causeway – is, according to geological evidence, millions of years old.

Last year Mr Storey objected to notices at the causeway stating that the rock formation was about 550 million years old.

The belief that the Earth was divinely created in 4004 BC originates with the writings of another Ulster-based Protestant, Archbishop of Armagh James Ussher, in 1654.

Bishop: 100 cases in 10 yrs for Italy priest abuse

Bishop: 100 cases in 10 yrs for Italy priest abuse

ROME — Italy’s bishops’ conference provided the first ever statistics of clerical sex abuse in the country Tuesday, saying there had been about 100 cases over the past 10 years that warranted church trials or other canonical procedures.

Monsignor Mariano Crociata, the No. 2 official in the Italian bishops’ conference, gave the estimate during a press conference on the sidelines of the bishops’ general assembly, the ANSA and Apcom news agencies reported.

He declined to say how many of the cases resulted in condemnation or defrocking of the priest, or how many were reported to police. While saying the church officials cooperated with police, he insisted that Italian law doesn’t require bishops to report suspected abuse.

Some lawyers for victims say bishops are required to report abuse since they are public officials. Vatican norms say bishops should follow civil laws in reporting abuse.

Crociata’s comments came a day after the head of the bishops’ conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, opened the bishops’ annual meeting by asking families to trust the Catholic Church despite the scandal, insisting that it had never intended to underestimate the problem.

The meeting came as more cases are coming to light in the Vatican’s backyard: On Tuesday, the ANSA news agency reported that a 73-year-old priest well known in Milan’s gay community had been arrested on charges he had sex with a 13-year-old boy, who is now 16. A day earlier, a priest in Savona went on trial for alleged sexual violence against a 12-year-old girl, ANSA said.

And last week, a Rome bishop testified in the case of another accused priest, the Rev. Ruggero Conti, that he knew about rumors of abuse two years before Conti was arrested yet didn’t alert police or the Vatican or proceed with any canonical trial against him.

Mario Staderini, a member of Italy’s Radical party who is a civil party in the Conti case, said it was unconscionable that a canonical trial hadn’t proceeded against Conti, given the evidence provided to his bishop, Monsignor Gino Reali.

Reali testified that he had spoken to 20-25 people, including two boys who said they had been abused by Conti, yet didn’t find their accusations credible. He said he convened a tribunal after receiving a written complaint from one of the boys, but it never got under way because the victim didn’t show up.

Conti is charged with sexual violence and other charges. In police interrogations, the boys — some as young as 13 at the time of the alleged abuse — said Conti would masturbate them and force them to perform oral sex on him in his home, where he frequently invited them to eat dinner and watch movies.

“How is it possible that only in Italy no bishop has felt the need to resign or make a mea culpa for failing to be vigilant?” Staderini asked in a statement.

He said if the Italian bishops’ conference wanted to be transparent and care for victims it should put some of the money that Italians earmark to the Catholic Church on their income taxes toward a fund for victims.

The main U.S. victims group, SNAP, Survivors’ Network for Those Abused by Priests, denounced Crociata for his defense of not reporting abuse to police, saying “it’s tragic and telling that most Catholic officials still insist on keeping clergy sex crimes secret.”

The group’s Midwest director Peter Isely said he doubted that there had only been 100 cases. “For decades, Catholic officials have underestimated and underreported the shocking extent of clergy sex crimes. We believe most of them still do.”

Swedish cartoonist returns to place of attack

Swedish cartoonist returns to place of attack

Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who in 2007 sparked controversy with a drawing of Prophet Mohammed, has been reinvited to speak at Uppsala University, where he was attacked two weeks ago.

“The department (of philosophy) has reached a wise decision. Lars Vilks must be allowed to hold his lecture,” Uppsala University vice-chancellor Anders Hallberg said in a statement Tuesday.

“Violence and threats of violence cannot be allowed to silence people, not on campus or elsewhere,” the university added in the statement.

On May 11, Vilks was holding a lecture at Uppsala University’s philosophy department, when he was head-butted by a man while others shouted and attempted to attack him.

Police evacuated the lecture hall but some demonstrators resisted forcing officers to use tear gas. Two people were arrested.

Vilks’ attack occurred as he was showing a film by an Iranian filmmaker, depicting two homosexuals disguised as Mohammed, Swedish media reported.

Uppsala Univeristy was criticised in many Swedish newspapers for not showing enough support to Vilks after the attack and for initially refusing to reinvite him.

The university said Tuesday Vilks had accepted the invitation and that it would hold a new security assessment before holding the lecture.

Four days after he was attacked at the university, Vilks’ house in the south of Sweden was targeted in an arson attack.

In 2007, Swedish regional daily Nerikes Allehanda published Vilks’ satirical sketch to illustrate an editorial on the importance of freedom of expression.

The drawing prompted protests by Muslims in the town of Oerebro, west of Stockholm, where the newspaper is based, while Egypt, Iran and Pakistan made formal complaints.

Teachers Removed From School After Holy Water Incident

Teachers Removed From School After Holy Water Incident

POMPANO BEACH, Fla — Two Broward teachers have been removed from their classrooms for allegedly pouring holy water on another teacher because she is an atheist.

Leslie Rainer and Djuna Robinson are veteran and self-proclaimed Christian teachers at Blanche Ely High School.

In April, they were re-assigned after another teacher, Schandra Rodriguez, who is an atheist, said they poured holy water on her during an incident at the school on March 11.

“Miss Robinson obtained a little bottle with some perfume in it in jest and the students will all confirm she never went close to Miss Rodriguez. Miss Rodriguez was on the other side of the classroom and that was basically it,” said Johnny L. McCray Jr., Rainer and Robinson’s attorney.

The accused teachers said it was a joke. Rodriguez, however, said they did it because she is an atheist.

Rodriguez is still teaching at the school and some said it’s not fair.

“If we are going to ban talking to students about God, then the atheists should also be banned from telling kids there is no God,” said Rev. Kirby Thurston.

The Broward School Board is investigating the allegations. According to McCray, students are also being questioned about what happened.

Saudi ‘emo’ girls busted by religious cops

Saudi ‘emo’ girls busted by religious cops

Saudi Arabia’s religious police have arrested 10 “emo” women for allegedly causing a disturbance in a coffee shop, Al-Yaum newspaper has reported.

The coffee shop owner in the eastern city of Dammam called the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice to complain after the young women, dressed and made up in the “emo” fashion, apparently began disturbing other clients.

The religious police then called their parents to come and collect the women, and to sign pledges that the girls would not repeat their ostensibly offensive un-Islamic behaviour and dress.

According to recent reports, growing numbers of urban young Saudi women are latching on to the emo fashion popular from Japan to Europe and the Americas.

The trend is characterised by wearing skinny black jeans, tennis shoes, colourful T-shirts bearing the names of emo bands, heavy make up and sharply chopped and sometimes radically coloured hairdos.

While Saudi women normally must appear in public shrouded by all-black abayas and headscarves, some daringly open their abayas in places such as malls and coffee shops to reveal more trendy outfits underneath.

Priest accused of having ‘erotic dungeon’ surrenders

Priest accused of having ‘erotic dungeon’ surrenders

A Polish-born priest accused of sexually abusing minors in his parochial residence in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has turned himself in, state officials said Saturday.State security officials said Marcin Michal Strachanowski, 44, surrendered to authorities Friday night in the village of Realengo.

State Civil Police had issued a “preventative arrest” warrant against Strachanowski on Thursday. The priest is accused of handcuffing a minor in 2006 and forcing him to perform sexual acts at his home in the Divino Espirito Santo church in Rio de Janeiro’s west zone, the officials said.

According to Brazil’s Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper, the priest could not be found Friday morning.

The newspaper reported that a 16-year old alleged victim told investigators that after being frequently raped by the priest, he was forced to remain silent and was threatened regularly.

Citing court statements, the newspaper reported that criminal Judge Alexandre Abrahao Dias Teixeira said police investigations revealed the profile of a man with a “compulsive attraction to having sex with adolescents” and that he had allegedly turned his parish residence into an “erotic dungeon” where he forced boys to have sex with him.