An unhinged actor Thursday calmly described hacking his beloved mother to death with a sword because he believed a demon had taken hold of her soul.
“I didn’t kill her. I killed the demon inside her,” Michael Brea said in a chilling hourlong interview with the Daily News in the prison ward at Bellevue Hospital.
When told his mother, Yannick Brea, 55, had died in the grisly assault early Tuesday, Michael was unrepentant.
“So be it. It was the work of God,” he said.
Speaking with white-hot intensity and unflinching confidence, Brea described a shadowy descent into a world filled with Masonic symbolism and black magic beginning late Sunday when he snapped awake.
“I was sleeping in my bedroom. God came above my bed and reached his arm to me,” said Brea, wearing a light-blue prison jumpsuit and slippers. He told his tale while sitting unhandcuffed on a blue chair behind a wood table.
“I said, ‘God, is my time on earth over?’ I heard a voice say, ‘Yes Michael, today is your last day.’ I asked if I could say goodbye to my family.”
The 31-year-old Brea said he told no one about the dream, but the following afternoon, he said he received another sign while at the Prince Hall Masonic Temple in Harlem, which he’d joined a week earlier.
There, he said, a man approached and tried to put a curse on him.
“[He] kept trying to put something in my hand but wouldn’t show it to me. I kept opening my hand. It was a Freemason pin. I wouldn’t touch it,” Brea said.
Felt like Neo from ‘The Matrix’
He began feeling ill and left, and while riding the train back to Brooklyn, he said, strangers began speaking to him about his mother.
“I felt like Neo from ‘The Matrix.’ I began hearing voices and feeling powerful,” Brea said. “They were asking about the difference between mom and mother. It was a sign.”
When he returned to the family’s Prospect Heights apartment, the bit-part actor who once appeared on “Ugly Betty,” hugged his mother, a God-fearing Haitian immigrant with whom relatives say he had long been very close.
“I knew I would never see my mother again,” he said. “I gave her lots of love.”
He went to his room and lit candles, placed a dagger and a 3-foot ceremonial Freemason sword by his side.
Investigators said he had stolen the sword from the Masonic lodge, but Brea insisted his father had given it to him when he was a child.
“It’s a powerful sword,” he said.
Brea also arranged three saint cards around him – including one of Saint Jude holding a sword.
His mother then knocked on the door and asked him to go to the kitchen and pour water from a pot in which she was cooking three chickens.
Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”. – Matthew 18:21-22
Christians constantly tell us that Yahweh is incredibly forgiving as he loves us so much. In the verse above, our Sunday school teachers told us that Jesus didn’t actually mean that Peter should only forgive his brother 490 times, but as many times as was necessary. We were told that Yahweh loves us so much he would always forgive us. But hold on – his forgiveness does have a limit if you think about it, it only lasts for a few decades during the time you inhabit a physical body. After that, well, his forgiveness runs out and if you are not a christian you will then be cast into hell and never forgiven, ever.
This is absurd if you think about it. For a start, why does his forgiveness end with physical death? He sets the rules so why not change them? If he loves us infintely and can do anything, why can’t someone in hell ask for forgiveness? Just imagine it, someone has been burning in hell for over 999 trillion years and has had enough. “Ok” he begs, “I’m sorry for the sins I committed in those few decades I was in a physical body over 999 trillion years ago. Please forgive me now!”. “Sorry”, says Yahweh, “that’s the rules, I can’t forgive you now.”. Surely if he is so powerful he could find some way around his own rules for goodness sake!?
I realised just how utterly illogical christianity is when my own small children were naughty. There was even a time when one of my children physically lashed out at me in a tantrum, but a few minutes later was very upset about this, said she was sorry and begged me to forgive her. We had a hug and I told her it was alright, I was her daddy and nothing she could ever do would stop me loving her, ever. I knew there would never be a day when I said “That’s it, you’ve had enough chances now, leave my house and never come back”. I realised that as I had unlimited forgiveness for her, logically this made me more of a forgiving person than Yahweh, as he has a cut-off point where his forgiveness runs out.
I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
I get so frustrated when I’m told I’m wrong for believing the way I do by someone who has never looked at the other side. How can one make a judgment unless they’ve actually considered ALL the facts? I would think if they actually looked at the facts they might be humbled a little bit.
I left the Christian faith only after MUCH consideration and research. I didn’t just wake up one day and say enough of this bullshit — I thought it out carefully. I read several books, did countless research and looked at all the options.
I only disclosed that I was no longer a Christian out of necessity. Trust me, I did not want to stir the pot, but it happened, and now I’m left with two brothers that won’t speak to me anymore (how scriptural and Jesus-like is that?!), and my mother telling me I’m wrong and acting like I’m breaking her heart.
Please, don’t tell me I’m wrong based on what the bible says — I don’t believe the bible is the inspired word of “god.” If you want to disagree with me or discuss the issue then please take the time to get more information.
I really don’t care what anyone else chooses to believe; It’s not my business, and what I believe is not their business. It’s a personal choice. When we take these personal choices into the political arena it causes problems. The church and state should be and was intended to be separate. Live YOUR life according to YOUR beliefs, but don’t force it on other people.
Although I feel Christians are misguided and uninformed, I think it’s their choice to believe in their god. I don’t care as long as they don’t judge me or try to change me. They can believe whatever they want. In the end it really doesn’t matter.
Evangelical Christians in Brazil have banned the use of USB connections after claiming the technology is the mark of Satan-worshippers.
Evangelical Christians in Brazil have apparently banned the use of USB connections after claiming the technology is the mark of Satan-worshippers (Hat tip: Fernando Frias). Apparently the revelation came after the evangelists noticed that the USB symbol resembles a trident. Presumably they’re not great fans of Britain’s ballistic missiles either.
Here’s the story, though be aware that aside from being repeated on a bunch of Brazilian websites, I’ve yet to find much to back it up, so if this turns up on Snopes don’t blame me.
The evangelical cult “Paz do Senhor Amado” (“Peace Beloved of the Lord”) in the interior of Brazil forbids its followers to use any USB technology by contending that it uses a symbol that makes apology to the devil.
According to its founder, the “Apostle” Welder Saldanha says that this is just a symbol of Satan, is always present in all Christian homes.
“The symbol of that name (he even likes to pronounce) is a trident, which is used to torture souls go to hell. Use only a symbol of those shows that all users of this technology pífia are actually worshipers of Satan” – explains the” Apostle”.
Measures were taken so that all the USB connections of his followers were exchanged for common connections and even the Bluetooth (sic), which according to Saldanha Welder is permitted, for “Blue was the color of the eyes of our savior Jesus Christ”.
O culto evangélico “Paz do Senhor Amado” do interior de SP proibe seus fiéis a usar toda e qualquer tecnologia USB, por alegar que a mesma use um simbolo que faz apologia ao demônio.
De acordo com seu fundador, o “Apóstolo” Welder Saldanha diz que isso é apenas mais um simbolo de satanás, estando sempre presente em todos os lares cristãos.
“O simbolo daquilo (nome que ele sequer gosta de pronunciar) é um tridente, que é usado para torturar almas que vão para o inferno. Usar um simbolo daqueles apenas mostra que todos usuários dessa pífia tecnologia são de fato, adoradores de satã” – Explica o “Apóstolo”.
As medidas tomadas foram para que todas as conexões USB de seus seguidores fossem trocadas por conexões comuns e até mesmo pelo Bluetooth (sic), que de acordo com Welder Saldanha é permitida, pois “Azul era a cor dos olhos de nosso salvador Jesus Cristo”.
QALQILIYA, West Bank — A mysterious blogger who set off an uproar in the Arab world by claiming he was God and hurling insults at the Prophet Muhammad is now behind bars — caught in a sting that used Facebook to track him down.
The case of the unlikely apostate, a shy barber from this backwater West Bank town, is highlighting the limits of tolerance in the Western-backed Palestinian Authority — and illustrating a new trend by authorities in the Arab world to mine social media for evidence.
Residents of Qalqiliya say they had no idea that Walid Husayin — the 26-year-old son of a Muslim scholar — was leading a double life.
Known as a quiet man who prayed with his family each Friday and spent his evenings working in his father’s barbershop, Husayin was secretly posting anti-religion rants on the Internet during his free time.
Now, he faces a potential life prison sentence on heresy charges for “insulting the divine essence.” Many in this conservative Muslim town say he should be killed for renouncing Islam, and even family members say he should remain behind bars for life.
“He should be burned to death,” said Abdul-Latif Dahoud, a 35-year-old Qalqiliya resident. The execution should take place in public “to be an example to others,” he added.
Over several years, Husayin is suspected of posting arguments in favor of atheism on English and Arabic blogs, where he described the God of Islam as having the attributes of a “primitive Bedouin.” He called Islam a “blind faith that grows and takes over people’s minds where there is irrationality and ignorance.”
Claims about what God wants
If that wasn’t enough, he is also suspected of creating three Facebook groups in which he sarcastically declared himself God and ordered his followers, among other things, to smoke marijuana in verses that spoof the Muslim holy book, the Quran. At its peak, Husayin’s Arabic-language blog had more than 70,000 visitors, overwhelmingly from Arab countries.
His Facebook groups elicited hundreds of angry comments, detailed death threats and the formation of more than a dozen Facebook groups against him, including once called “Fight the blasphemer who said ‘I am God.’”
The outburst of anger reflects the feeling in the Muslim world that their faith is under mounting attack by the West. This sensitivity has periodically turned violent, such as the street protests that erupted in 2005 after cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad were published in Denmark or after Pope Benedict XVI suggested the Prophet Muhammad was evil the following year. The pope later retracted his comment.
Husayin is the first to be arrested in the West Bank for his religious views, said Tayseer Tamimi, the former chief Islamic judge in the area.
The Western-backed Palestinian Authority is among the more religiously liberal Arab governments in the region. It is dominated by secular elites and has frequently cracked down on hardline Muslims and activists connected to its conservative Islamic rival, Hamas.
Husayin’s high public profile and prickly style, however, left authorities no choice but to take action.
Husayin used a fake name on his English and Arabic-language blogs and Facebook pages. After his mother discovered articles on atheism on his computer, she canceled his Internet connection in hopes that he would change his mind.
Instead, he began going to an Internet cafe — a move that turned out to be a costly mistake. The owner, Ahmed Abu-Asal, said the blogger aroused suspicion by spending up to seven hours a day in a corner booth. After several months, a cafe worker supplied captured snapshots of his Facebook pages to Palestinian intelligence officials.
Officials monitored him for several weeks and then arrested him on Oct. 31 as he sat in the cafe, said Abu-Asal.
The case is the second high-profile arrest connected in the West Bank connected to Facebook activity. In late September, a reporter for a news station sympathetic to Hamas was arrested and detained for more than a month after he was tagged in a Facebook image that insulted the Palestinian president.Gaza’s Hamas rulers also stalk Facebook pages of suspected dissenters, said Palestinian rights activist Mustafa Ibrahim. He said Internet cafe owners are forced to monitor customers’ online activity, and alert intelligence officials if they see anything critical of the militant group or that violates Hamas’ stern interpretation of Islam.
Going fishing on Facebook
Both governments also create fake Facebook profiles to befriend and monitor known dissidents, activists said. In September, a young Gaza man was detained after publishing an article critical of Hamas on his Facebook feed.
Such “stalking” on Facebook and other social media sites has become increasingly common in the Arab world. In Lebanon, four people were arrested over the summer and accused of slandering President Michel Suleiman on Facebook. All have been released on bail.
In neighboring Syria, Facebook is blocked altogether. And in Egypt, a blogger was charged with atheism in 2007 after intelligence officials monitored his posts.
EDUCATION Minister Bronwyn Pike has ducked a potential backlash from the powerful Christian lobby by rejecting a proposal to allow humanism to be taught in primary schools during time allocated for religious education.
The Humanist Society of Victoria, which wants to teach an ethics-based curriculum, is planning a legal challenge, saying that the current system indirectly discriminates against non-religious children, causing ”hurt, humiliation and pain and suffering” to them when they opt out of religious education classes.
Children in two-thirds of Victorian state primary schools are taught Christian scripture by volunteers, even though the Education Act says state schools must be secular and ”not promote any particular religious practice, denomination or sect”.Advertisement: Story continues below
Parents must sign forms if they want their children to be excluded from ”special religious instruction” classes, 96 per cent of which teach Christianity, with the remaining 4 per cent covered by the Jewish, Buddhist and Baha’i faiths.
Children who do not attend these sessions are not allowed to be taught anything their classmates might miss out on during this time, so they are often put in another room where they read or play on computers.
The Education Act has a special exemption from its secular roots to allow religious education.
But Ms Pike skewered an attempt last year by the Humanist Society of Victoria to have its ”humanist applied ethics” curriculum approved for teaching during the religion period. The course, designed to be taught from prep to year 6, covered subjects such as the art of living, the environment, philosophy, science and world citizenship.
Ms Pike declared that humanism’s ”world-view philosophy [sic] cannot be defined as a religion”, and that the Humanist Society was ”not registered as a religious organisation” and therefore could not ”provide instruction in government schools”. There is, however, no official registration of religions in Australia.
The man responsible for accrediting non-Christian religious teachers, RMIT professor Desmond Cahill, head of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, said, ”We’d consider humanism as a religion since it has an ethical standpoint.”
Ms Pike refused to answer The Sunday Age’s questions about whether she had been targeted by the Christian lobby.
The Greens candidate in Ms Pike’s threatened seat of Melbourne, Brian Walters, told The Sunday Age governments should not use their power to ”privilege or promote any one religion or non-religion in our schools” and said children should not be segregated on the basis of faith.
The Humanist Society of Victoria has obtained legal advice that children who are excluded from scripture classes are being indirectly discriminated against.
Religious education arguably breaches equal opportunity law, the advice says, and causes ”hurt, humiliation and pain and suffering” to children who opt out as they are ”isolated from the rest of the class … with little to do”.
It suggests aggrieved parents take action in the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and possibly VCAT.
Humanist Society of Victoria president Stephen Stuart said the society was collecting testimony from parents in an attempt to mount a ”convincing class action with hundreds of names”.
Melbourne mother Dina Cragie, who is Jewish, lobbied for Judaism to be offered at her children’s Hawthorn East school, but they were plucked from maths classes to attend. ”I’m not happy with it; it’s a secular school, and the fact that so much time is spent on religious education is baffling to me – and to have to choose between maths and religion offends me,” Ms Cragie said.
”Ultimately you should teach all religions or none.”
A centuries-old religious ceremony of an indigenous people in southern Mexico has led to small evolutionary changes in a local species of fish, according to researchers from Texas A&M University.
Since before the arrival of Christopher Columbus to the New World, the Zoque people of southern Mexico would venture each year during the Easter season deep into the sulfuric cave Cueva del Azufre to implore their deities for a bountiful rain season. As part of the annual ritual, they release into the cave’s waters a distinctive, leaf-bound paste made of lime and the ground-up root of the barbasco plant, a natural fish toxin. Believing the cave’s fish to be gifts from their gods, they scoop up their poisoned prey to feed upon until their crops are ready to harvest.
However, a team of researchers led by Dr. Michael Tobler, an evolutionary ecologist at Oklahoma State University, and Dr. Gil Rosenthal, a biology professor at Texas A&M, has discovered that some of these fish have managed not only to develop a resistance to the plant’s powerful toxin, but also to pass on their tolerant genes to their offspring, enabling them to survive in the face of otherwise certain death for their non-evolved brethren.
Their findings recently were published in the online journal “Biology Letters.”
Tobler has been studying the small, cave-dwelling fish species known as the Atlantic molly or Poecilia mexicana and its uncanny ability to survive in the toxic sulfur environment of Cueva del Azufre since 2004. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Zurich in 2008 and spent the next two years as a postdoctoral research associate at Texas A&M, studying under Rosenthal and Dr. Kirk Winemiller, a professor in wildlife and fisheries science, as part of a two-year, $79,000 Swiss National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship.
After learning about the Zoque people’s sacred ritual and witnessing the event firsthand in 2007, Tobler and Rosenthal decided to investigate the effects of this peculiar ceremony on the mollies and their habitat. Ironically, it was the last ceremony ever held, as the Zoques ended the practice that year due to political pressure from the government, which sought to preserve the cave as a hotbed for tourism and potential revenue.
“We wanted to do a lab experiment where we exposed fish from different parts of the creek to barbasco,” Tobler says. “Some of these fish had been more exposed than others.”
In March 2010, the team collected molly specimens from two different areas of the cave annually exposed to the barbasco toxin as well as from two different areas upstream, further away from the Zoque’s ritual. With both groups of fish in a single tank, they then introduced the barbasco root to determine how both groups would react.
They found that the mollies annually exposed to the barbasco indeed were more resistant than the fish further upstream — to the extent that they were able to swim in the noxious water nearly 50 percent longer. Tobler and Rosenthal’s group concluded that human beings had, over time, not only affected molly population dynamics, but also inadvertently kick-started the evolutionary process of natural selection as well. Mollies able to tolerate the poisonous conditions survived and passed those traits to their offspring, resigning those that perished to their fate of serving as a ceremonial feast for the Zoque.
“The cool thing is that this ceremony has gone on a long time and that the fish responded to it evolutionarily,” Tobler says. “Lots of species couldn’t live with these changes. It highlights how nature is affected by human activity.”
Rosenthal contends that the idea of imposing evolutionary divergence on a species at an extremely localized spatial scale is not a new concept. In fact, he says, it’s been happening since the beginning of mankind and that the idea of the “noble savage” is passé.
“We tend to have this wonderful Pocahontas idea that before Europeans came in, everything was pristine and in harmony with nature and that all of the changes in our environment have been post-industrialization,” he explains. “No. People have been changing the environment forever.”
Moreover, Rosenthal says, once a species has become genetically adapted to human presence, it is not very easy to suddenly reverse.
Their ritual since banned, the Zoques still perform a mock ceremony each Easter season. Tobler, however, would like to see the Zoque’s original ceremony resume, but in a way that is sustainable to nature as well as other cave inhabitants. The key, he and Rosenthal believe, is to find a balance between human activity and their environment. In the case of the Zoques, it may mean a few limitations on barbasco usage for their ritual, such as releasing the toxin only 50-to-60 meters into the cave rather than 100 meters.
Pending further resolution, Tobler will continue his research with the mollies at Oklahoma State, where they are housed in a special tank built to safely imitate their sulfuric living conditions in Cueva del Azufre.
“We need to understand what the impact really is on these fish rather than eliminate the ceremony completely,” Tobler says. “We want to hopefully find a balance between the cultural practices of these people and the ecosystem.”