Terror organisation al-Shabaab have claimed an attack that killed 28 people on a bus in Northern Kenya.
Around 100 gunmen, who are believed to have travelled over the border in Mandera county from Somalia, took the bus off the road before separating the passengers.
It is believed they asked travellers to recite passages from the Koran, shooting dead those who were unable to prove they were practising Muslims.
A statement on a website linked to the extremist organisation said the attack was carried out in retaliation for security raids on mosques in the coastal city of Mombassa earlier this week.
Kenya’s Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government claimed on their official account earlier today: “Attackers camp has been destroyed by KDF using helicopters and jets, many killed, operations continue.”
The bus was travelling to the Kenyan capital Nairobi when it was stopped in the northern county that borders Somalia.
Around 60 people were on the bus at the time of the attack, and it is thought that among the dead are Kenyan public servants – including four police officers – who were heading to the capital for the Christmas holiday.
Mandera East deputy County Commissioner Elvis Korir said the passengers were then separated into two groups. The Somali passengers watched in horror as non-Somalis were herded away from the bus and then killed.
Mr Korir added that many details over the attack remain unclear, but the deaths underscore fears over the lack of security, especially in the remote parts of northern Kenya.
Abdullahi Abdirahman, the Arabiya Ward Representative, told the Daily Nation: “This place has been prone to attacks, this is not the first time the government has totally ignored us, and you can now see the how many innocent precious lives have been lost”.
In early November, gunmen killed 20 police officers and two police reservists in an ambush in Turkana county in the northwest of Kenya.
The northern region of Kenya is awash with guns due to its proximity with Somalia and Ethiopia, from where the armed Oromo Liberation Front has made incursions into Kenya.
Since 2011 the Somalia-based terror group al-Shabaab, which is linked to al-Qaeda, have carried out a series of attacks in Kenya, including the Westgate Mall attack in which 67 people were killed.
In swaths of Syria now controlled by ISIS, children can no longer study math or social studies. Sports are out of the question. And students will be banned from learning about elections and democracy.
Instead, they’ll be subjected to the teachings of the radical Islamist group. And any teacher who dares to break the rules “will be punished.”
ISIS revealed its new educational demands in fliers posted on billboards and on street poles.
The Sunni militant group has captured a slew of Syrian and Iraqi cities in recent months as it tries to establish a caliphate, or Islamic state, spanning Sunni parts of both countries.
In the letter, ISIS said alternative courses will be added.
It also said teachers must erase the phrase Syrian Arab Republic — the official name of Syria — and replace it with Islamic State, which is what ISIS calls itself.
Educators cannot teach nationalistic and ethnic ideology and must instead teach “the belonging to Islam … and to denounce infidelity and infidels.”
Books cannot include any reference to evolution. And teachers must say that the laws of physics and chemistry “are due to Allah’s rules and laws.”
The letter ends with a firm warning:
“This is an obligatory announcement, and all violators will be punished.”
200 Syrians killed in one day
The brutal advances of ISIS in Syria come as the country grapples with a three-year civil war with no clear victor in sight.
At least 200 people were killed on Tuesday alone, the opposition group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. It said about 60 were killed by regime airstrikes.
The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency, meanwhile, said terrorist attacks in Damascus, Hama and Homs left at least three civilians dead.
In all, the United Nations estimates more than 190,000 people have died in the violence between President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and rebels seeking an end to four decades of al-Assad family rule.
It was bad enough that the alleged rape took place in the sanctity of a mosque and that the accused man was a mullah who invoked the familiar defence that it had been consensual sex.
But the victim was only 10 years old. And there was more: The authorities said her family members openly planned to carry out an honour killing in the case – against the young girl. The mullah offered to marry his victim instead.
This past week, the awful matter became even worse. On Tuesday, local policemen removed the girl from the shelter that had given her refuge and returned her to her family, despite complaints from women’s activists that she was likely to be killed.
The case has broader repercussions. The head of the Women for Afghan Women shelter here where the girl took refuge, Dr. Hassina Sarwari, was at one point driven into hiding by death threats from the girl’s family and other mullahs, who sought to play down the crime by arguing the girl was much older than 10. One militia commander sent Sarwari threatening texts and an ultimatum to return the girl to her family. The doctor said she now wanted to flee Afghanistan.
The head of the women’s affairs office in Kunduz, Nederah Geyah, who actively campaigned to have the young girl protected from her family and the mullah prosecuted, resigned May 21 and moved to another part of the country.
The case itself would just be an aberrant atrocity, except that the resulting support for the mullah, and for the girl’s family and its honour killing plans, have become emblematic of a broader failure to help Afghan women who have been victims of violence.
The result challenges hopes that Western aid and encouragement can make lasting headway on behalf of Afghan women, particularly in remote parts of the country where traditional customs are still stronger than modern law. Here, Taliban insurgents and pro-government elements often make common cause in their hatred of progress in women’s rights, most of which has come about with international funding and pressure.
Most of the anger in Kunduz has been focused not on the mullah but on the women’s activists and the shelter, which is one of seven operated across Afghanistan by Women for Afghan Women, an Afghan-run charity that is heavily dependent on American aid, from both government and private donors.
“People know this office as the Americans’ office,” Sarwari said. “They all think the shelter is an American shelter. There isn’t a single American here.”
“WAW is not American-run,” said Manizha Naderi, its executive director. “Every single staff member is an Afghan. They are from the communities we work in. Our only concern is to make sure women and girls are protected and that they get justice.”
As the Western withdrawal from Afghanistan has accelerated, rights advocates are seeing a sharp difference in their funding.
“We already see the signs of losing the support of the international community,” Geyah said in an interview before she resigned. “No one’s funding new civil society programs anymore. None of the foreigners show up anymore; they’re all in hiding. And I think what gains we have achieved the last 13 years, we’re slowly losing all of them.”
The accused mullah, Mohammad Amin, was arrested and confessed to having sex with the girl after Koran recitation classes at the mosque on May 1, but he claimed that he thought the girl was older and that she responded to his advances.
The girl’s own testimony, and medical evidence, supported a rape so violent that it caused a fistula, or a break in the wall between the vagina and rectum, according to the police and the official bill of indictment. She bled so profusely after the attack that she was at one point in danger of losing her life because of a delay in getting medical care.
After the two women’s officials began speaking out about the case, they started receiving threatening calls from mullahs – some of them Taliban, others on the government side – and from arbakai, or pro-government militiamen. One of their claims was that the girl was actually 17, and thus of marriageable age, not 10.
Photographs of the girl that Sarwari took in the hospital clearly show a pre-pubescent child, and the doctor said the girl weighed only 40 pounds. Few Afghans have birth records, and many do not know their precise ages. But the girl’s mother said she was 10, and a forensic examination in the hospital agreed, saying she had not yet started menstruating or developing secondary sexual characteristics.
In the photographs, which Sarwari displayed on her laptop computer recently, the girl has alabaster features and inky black hair cut in a pageboy style. She lay in her hospital bed under a quilted blanket with cartoon characters on it.
Geyah said she showed photos of the girl to government officials and prosecutors to prove that she was much too young to have consented. Sarwari said, “We wanted to give her a face, to make her real to them.” Geyah said: “I went to the hospital when they brought her there. I was sitting next to her bed when I overheard her mother and aunt saying that her father was under tremendous pressure by the villagers to kill the girl because she had brought shame to them.”
Honour killings in rape cases are common in Afghanistan, and are often more important to the victim’s family than vengeance against the attacker. Human rights groups say about 150 honour killings a year come to light, and many more probably go unreported.
When Sarwari, who is a pediatrician, arrived to pick up the girl at the hospital, a crowd of village elders from Alti Gumbad, the girl’s home village on the outskirts of the city of Kunduz, were gathered outside the hospital; the girl’s brothers, father and uncle were among them. Inside, Sarwari encountered the girl’s aunt, who told her she had been ordered by her husband to sneak the girl out of the hospital and deliver her to the male relatives outside.
“She said they wanted to take her and kill her, and dump her in the river,” Sarwari said.
Efforts to reach the girl’s relatives by telephone were unsuccessful, and insurgent activity around Alti Gumbad made the village too dangerous for journalists to visit.
“The girl’s family gave us a guarantee that they would not harm her,” said Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, head of the Kunduz police criminal investigation division. “We would not hand her back unless we were sure.”
In the hospital room, the doctor found the girl’s mother holding her child’s hand, and both were weeping. “My daughter, may dust and soil protect you now,” Sarwari quoted the mother as saying. “We will make you a bed of dust and soil. We will send you to the cemetery where you will be safe.”
Even mothers here often believe that there is no choice but to kill rape victims, who are seen as unmarriageable and therefore a lifelong burden to their families, as well as a constant reminder of dishonor.
“Their men feel they have to wash their shame with blood,” Sarwari said.
The doctor took the girl away to the shelter. Afterward, Sarwari and several women’s affairs officials were threatened by the girl’s family and by other mullahs.
“They call me and curse me, and threaten to kill me and my family, and say they know where I live,” Sarwari said. “They say, once your American husbands leave Afghanistan, we will do what we want to you.” (Her husband is an Afghan doctor and war veteran.)
Sarwari has accused prosecutors and religious officials of siding with the accused rapist and ignoring the child’s plight.
“There are a lot of powerful people behind the mullah,” Sarwari said. The girl’s family knows they cannot do anything to Amin, she said, but “the girl is easy. They can get to her; she’s their daughter.” She said she feared the girl would either be killed, or forced to recant her accusations against the mullah.
Women for Afghan Women arranged for the girl to get medical treatment, and after she healed, she was returned to the shelter in Kunduz, about two weeks ago, until the police returned her to her family last Tuesday. Those caring for the girl said she had been terribly homesick and wanted to return to her family, but no one had the heart to tell her they had been conspiring to kill her.
Evidence of the castrations has emerged amid controversy that it was not included in the findings of an official investigation into sexual abuse within the church last year.
The NRC Handelsblad newspaper identified Henk Heithuis who was castrated in 1956, while a minor, after reporting priests to the police for abusing him in a Catholic boarding home.
Joep Dohmen, the investigative journalist who uncovered the Heithuis case, also found evidence of at least nine other castrations. “These cases are anonymous and can no longer be traced,” he said. “There will be many more. But the question is whether those boys, now old men, will want to tell their story.”
Mr Heithuis died in a car crash in 1958, two years after being castrated at the age of 20, while under the age of majority, which was then 21.
In 1956 he had accused Catholic clergy of sexually abusing him in his Church run care home.
Two clergymen were convicted of abuse but Mr Heithuis, a victim, was nonetheless transferred by police to a Catholic psychiatric hospital before being admitted to the St. Joseph Hospital in Veghel later that year.
There, court papers confirm, he was castrated “at his own request”, despite no submission of his written consent. Sources told Mr Dohmen that the surgical removal of testicles was regarded as a treatment for homosexuality and also as a punishment for those who accused clergy of sexual abuse.
Cornelius Rogge, 79, a well-known Dutch sculptor whose family knew Mr Heithuis in the 1950s, reported the castration to an official inquiry into abuse within the Catholic Church. But his evidence was ignored.
“We once asked Henk to drop his pants when the women were gone. He did that. He was maimed totally. It was a huge shock,” he said.
Last December, an official investigation by Wim Deetman, a former Dutch minister, received 1,800 reports of sexual abuse by clergy or volunteers within Dutch Catholic dioceses in the period since 1945.
The Deetman inquiry received a report of the Heithuis case from Mr Rogge but it was not followed up because “there were few leads for further research”.
Evidence emerged on Monday that government inspectors were aware that minors were being castrated while in Catholic-run psychiatric institutions.
Minutes of meetings held in the 1950s show that inspectors were present when castrations were discussed. The documents also reveal that the Catholic staff did not think parents needed to be involved.
There are also allegations that Vic Marijnen, a former Dutch Prime Minister, who died in 1975, was linked to the case.
In 1956, Mr Marijnen was the chairman of the Gelderland children’s home where Mr Heithuis and other children were abused. He intervened to have prison sentences dropped against several priests convicted of abusing children.
Dutch MPs will today call for a parliamentary investigation into the allegations.
“I am shocked that boys were being castrated in the 1950s,” said Khadija Arib, a Labour MP. “I want an independent investigation. We must find out how many cases there were, who knew about it and why the government did not act.”
Kathmandu, Nepal (CNN) — A 40-year-old mother of two was burned alive in central Nepal after she was accused of being a witch, police said Saturday.
Dhegani Mahato was attacked and set on fire by family members and others after a shaman allegedly accused her of casting a spell to make one of her relatives sick, Police Officer Hira Mani Baral said.
The attack occurred Friday in Bagauda in Chitwan district, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) southwest of the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, Baral said by telephone.
Police arrested 10 people, including two shamans, five women and an 8-year-old boy, in connection with the burning.
“Those arrested have confessed to their crime and will be charged with murder,” Baral said.
Mahato had just finished cleaning a cowshed early in the morning when she was attacked, Baral said.
She was beaten with sticks and rocks before being doused with kerosene and set afire, an attack witnessed by her 9-year-old daughter, according to the local police report.
Neighbors told police they were alerted to the attack but by then it was too late to save her.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai appealed to the people not to heed to shamans and faith healers.
The government announced 1 million Nepalese rupees (about $14,000) in compensation for Mahato’s two children.
I am shocked…. shocked I say!
(GENOA) — The latest sex-abuse case to rock the Catholic Church is unfolding in the archdiocese of an influential Italian Cardinal who has been working with Pope Benedict XVI on reforms to respond to prior scandals of pedophile priests.
Father Riccardo Seppia, a 51-year-old parish priest in the village of Sastri Ponente, near Genoa, was arrested last Friday, May 13, on pedophilia and drug charges. Investigators say that in tapped mobile-phone conversations, Seppia asked a Moroccan drug dealer to arrange sexual encounters with young and vulnerable boys. “I do not want 16-year-old boys but younger. Fourteen-year-olds are O.K. Look for needy boys who have family issues,” he allegedly said. Genoa Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, who is the head of the Italian Bishops Conference, had been working with Benedict to establish a tough new worldwide policy, released this week, on how bishops should handle accusations of priestly sex abuse.
Bagnasco said that when he met the Pope this weekend, he “asked for a particular blessing for my archdiocese” in light of the alleged crimes, adding that “like every father toward a son [feels] great pain in seeing a priest who is not faithful to his vocation.”
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi praised Bagnasco’s handling of the Sastri Ponente case, lauding its “timeliness and competence.” On Saturday, May 14, the Cardinal visited the Santo Spirito church, where Seppia was the parish priest.
According to investigators, Seppia told a friend — a former seminarian and barman who is currently under investigation — that the town’s malls were the best places to entice minors. In tapped phone conversations the two cursed and swore against God. The priest is charged with having attempted to kiss and touch an underage altar boy and of having exchanged cocaine for sexual intercourse with boys over 18.
Seppia’s defense lawyers are expected to argue that those conversations — monitored since Oct. 20, 2010 — were just words, sex games that were played by adults. It was just a game even when he claimed to have “kissed on the mouth” a 15-year-old altar boy, according to the defense.
On Monday, May 16, during formal questioning by Genoa’s investigating magistrate Annalisa Giacalone, Seppia chose not to respond. The magistrate decided to keep him in custody to avoid a risk of relapse or tampering with evidence. Defense attorney Paolo Bonanni said the defense wants to evaluate all the charges, reserving the right to respond to public prosecutor Stefano Puppo in the coming days.
Questioned by the investigators, the altar boy reportedly confirmed the attempted kiss. Another male minor who, according to the investigators, was stalked with messages and pressing invitations, will be questioned soon. Psychologists are helping Carabinieri police officers obtain testimony from the alleged victims. “The boys are ashamed to talk and to admit what happened,” says one of the investigators. The evidence amounts to at least 50 messages and phone calls. In the tapped phone conversations, the drug dealer contacted the boys and gave their phone numbers to the priest, who paid them with cocaine or 50 euros each time for sexual intercourse.
“[The investigators] made us listen to that man saying terrifying things about our children. Things so terrible that I cannot repeat them,” a father of one of the boys said.
Investigators are also examining three confiscated computers: the priest allegedly looked for partners via chat as well.
Seppia is currently being kept in a confinement cell in a Genoa prison. He met the jail’s priest and psychologist. “He has read the newspapers, and he is pained by his parishioners’ comments,” says his lawyer. The investigation is ongoing.
Fuck everything about this.
Shariatpur, Bangladesh (CNN) — Hena Akhter’s last words to her mother proclaimed her innocence. But it was too late to save the 14-year-old girl.
Her fellow villagers in Bangladesh’s Shariatpur district had already passed harsh judgment on her. Guilty, they said, of having an affair with a married man. The imam from the local mosque ordered the fatwa, or religious ruling, and the punishment: 101 lashes delivered swiftly, deliberately in public.
Hena dropped after 70.
Bloodied and bruised, she was taken to hospital, where she died a week later.
Amazingly, an initial autopsy report cited no injuries and deemed her death a suicide. Hena’s family insisted her body be exhumed. They wanted the world to know what really happened to their daughter.
Hena’s family hailed from rural Shariatpur, crisscrossed by murky rivers that lend waters to rice paddies and lush vegetable fields.
Hena was the youngest of five children born to Darbesh Khan, a day laborer, and his wife, Aklima Begum. They shared a hut made from corrugated tin and decaying wood and led a simple life that was suddenly marred a year ago with the return of Hena’s cousin Mahbub Khan.
Mahbub Khan came back to Shariatpur from a stint working in Malaysia. His son was Hena’s age and the two were in seventh grade together.
Khan eyed Hena and began harassing her on her way to school and back, said Hena’s father. He complained to the elders who run the village about his nephew, three times Hena’s age.
The elders admonished Mahbub Khan and ordered him to pay $1,000 in fines to Hena’s family. But Mahbub was Darbesh’s older brother’s son and Darbesh was asked to let the matter fade.
Many months later on a winter night, as Hena’s sister Alya told it, Hena was walking from her room to an outdoor toilet when Mahbub Khan gagged her with cloth, forced her behind nearby shrubbery and beat and raped her.
Hena struggled to escape, Alya told CNN. Mahbub Khan’s wife heard Hena’s muffled screams and when she found Hena with her husband, she dragged the teenage girl back to her hut, beat her and trampled her on the floor.
The next day, the village elders met to discuss the case at Mahbub Khan’s house, Alya said. The imam pronounced his fatwa. Khan and Hena were found guilty of an illicit relationship. Her punishment under sharia or Islamic law was 101 lashes; his 201.
Mahbub Khan managed to escape after the first few lashes.
Darbesh Khan and Aklima Begum had no choice but to mind the imam’s order. They watched as the whip broke the skin of their youngest child and she fell unconscious to the ground.
“What happened to Hena is unfortunate and we all have to be ashamed that we couldn’t save her life,” said Sultana Kamal, who heads the rights organization Ain o Shalish Kendro.
Bangladesh is considered a democratic and moderate Muslim country, and national law forbids the practice of sharia. But activist and journalist Shoaib Choudhury, who documents such cases, said sharia is still very much in use in villages and towns aided by the lack of education and strong judicial systems.
The Supreme Court also outlawed fatwas a decade ago, but human rights monitors have documented more than 500 cases of women in those 10 years who were punished through a religious ruling. And few who have issued such rulings have been charged.
Last month, the court asked the government to explain what it had done to stop extrajudicial penalty based on fatwa. It ordered the dissemination of information to all mosques and madrassas, or religious schools, that sharia is illegal in Bangladesh.
“The government needs to enact a specific law to deal with such perpetrators responsible for extrajudicial penalty in the name of Islam,” Kamal told CNN.
The United Nations estimates that almost half of Bangladeshi women suffer from domestic violence and many also commonly endure rape, beatings, acid attacks and even death because of the country’s entrenched patriarchal system.
Hena might have quietly become another one of those statistics had it not been for the outcry and media attention that followed her death on January 31.
Monday, the doctors responsible for Hena’s first autopsy faced prosecution for what a court called a “false post-mortem report to hide the real cause of Hena’s death.”
Public outrage sparked by that autopsy report prompted the high court to order the exhumation of Hena’s body in February. A second autopsy performed at Dhaka Medical College Hospital revealed Hena had died of internal bleeding and her body bore the marks of severe injuries.
Police are now conducting an investigation and have arrested several people, including Mahbub Khan, in connection with Hena’s death.
“I’ve nothing to demand but justice,” said Darbesh Khan, leading a reporter to the place where his daughter was abducted the night she was raped.
He stood in silence and took a deep breath. She wasn’t even old enough to be married, he said, testament to Hena’s tenderness in a part of the world where many girls are married before adulthood. “She was so small.”
Hena’s mother, Aklima, stared vacantly as she spoke of her daughter’s last hours. She could barely get out her words. “She was innocent,” Aklima said, recalling Hena’s last words.
Police were guarding Hena’s family earlier this month. Darbesh and Aklima feared reprisal for having spoken out against the imam and the village elders.
They had meted out the most severe punishment for their youngest daughter. They could put nothing past them.
THE BIBLE: IMMORAL AND IRRATIONAL
Wayne Everett Orgar
Last year I sent a letter to a church elder that I have been corresponding with. Some excerpts from this letter are as follows:
“I’m not sure why you quote the Bible to me. No other book has caused more confusion and needless suffering among nations. The thinker has to reject the Bible as nonsense if considered in its entirety and in context. Examine the three versions of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20, 34 and Deuteronomy 5). Exodus 34 is very different from the other two. How could a god forget its own commandments? No super-intelligent being would allow such errors in its holy book. Exodus 34 is the only version that says it is the Ten Commandments in text (Exodus 34:28 KJV). Christians don’t quote this version. They probably don’t know it exists and it reads like embarrassing nonsense.***
I remember the story of the devil taking Jesus up on a mountain to see all the kingdoms of the world to tempt him (Matthew 4:8-9). No such mountain is possible, given that the earth is a sphere! This would only work on a small, flat Earth. Of course, since Christians believe that Jesus was god, this temptation would be absurd. A god would already own the kingdoms of earth. The devil would obviously know this. Add to this the belief in the supernatural nature of the devil and Jesus and it becomes apparent that it would have been entirely unnecessary to go up on a mountain to see anything on earth. This story is irrational even if you don’t believe it literally.
Let’s be analytical about the alleged Jesus cursing a fig tree (Mark 11:12-14) because it didn’t bear fruit when he was hungry. Why did he not know that it wasn’t the season for fig trees to bear fruit? He was god, he was supposed to know all things. Why make the tree wither? This would highly irrational behavior for a god or a human.
Take a look at II Kings 2:23-24 (KJV). The context is a story of Elisha (not a parable or an example of what is not appropriate punishment) being teased by 42 children. The god sends two bears to kill (tare/devour) the kids. All kids tease and so do adults. No one deserves death for teasing, no matter how impolite it is. This is not an example of justice and morality. This is not the behavior of a rational, loving god. Why not just ground the kids for a week or make them wash Elisha’s feet for a month?
Flip back to Leviticus 21:16-24 (KJV). The context is god, telling Moses, to tell Aaron who can’t approach the altar in the sanctuary. This is one of the most despicable passages in the Bible. It essentially trashes people with disabilities and disfigurement and says that they are a “profanity”. Maybe I’m sensitive since I have spent a good deal of my life helping people with disabilities. This language is not loving, moral, or rational in any context.”
If these words were written in any other religious book, would you respect that book? Why respect the Bible? I could write much more about the many vulgar, irrational, and immoral passages in the Bible. However, it is up to the believer to read the Bible for himself or herself and discover what this book really says. After all, if you are claiming that this book gives you meaning in life, you’d better know what it really says.
When I was young, I was led around these passages. This is the way that young people are brainwashed. Once they believe, it is almost impossible for them to face the truth in adulthood. It is too difficult emotionally. I have found that when Christians are confronted with such passages, they become angry and attempt save face with weak excuses about the Bible containing good passages also. Nothing excuses the thinking demonstrated in the above passages.
I am still waiting for a response to my letter. What could the elder say to defend such language? What would you say to me?
***HINT, 11/25/2000 – Almost any public library has the information that can explain to you why this glaring contradiction exists. Find a book written in the past 10 to 15 years that summarizes the past 1000 years of Bible scholarship. Read for yourself what we have learned about the many people who wrote the Bible, when they wrote it, and why. Your life will not be the same.
So you want to be a Fundamentalist. It’s not easy, you know: you’ll have to impose the stiffest constraints on your mind, accepting authority without question — you will be subject to jeers and persecutions at the hands of the Spawn of Satan, and you will suffer during your entire lifetime trying to throw pearls before the swine. But in the end, you will receive your reward from the Almighty in Heaven, and you will have the satisfaction of seeing all others being tossed into the Lake of Fire. But enough of that; you’re not there yet. You must first prove yourself worthy of being a Fundamentalist.
Lesson One: Developing Your Psyche
Right now I would like you to relax. That’s it — just sit quietly and let your mind go blank. Concentrate on one thing and one thing only: concentrate on your thumb. Now that thumb is no ordinary run-of-the-mill thumb: what you see is THE THUMB. That Thumb is your world. Nothing besides that Thumb concerns you in the least. As far as you are concerned, that Thumb rules over all. The only thing that should be in your mind right now is your Thumb and its absolute authority over your life. Each and every line, ridge, wrinkle, and bit of cuticle is a Divine Mandate, eternal in its wisdom, power, and relevance. That Thumb was made by GOD, and its sole purpose is to guide you to your Salvation.Now, while still concentrating on that Thumb, begin to think about the world around you. Careful! Don’t try to take in everything at once: start with the rest of your fingers, and slowly spread from there. See how your fingers are connected with and dominated by your Thumb. Now, slowly extend your perception to embrace the entire world and everyone in it. The whole world and everyone in it was created by God, and it is all guided by the Thumb.
Pay no attention that there are a lot of thumbs in the world. Your Thumb is THE HOLY THUMB, and was especially given to you by God so that you can use it to guide your life and the lives of others. Remember this: the thumbs of other people are not fit to guide their lives. Those thumbs are heathen thumbs, and those who live by them are Spawn of Satan and are an insult to the One and Only True God who created your Almighty Thumb just for you.
Now let me ask you this: do you feel superior to the Spawn of Satan? Do you feel obligated to show them the light by running their lives for them through the Divine inspiration of your Thumb? Do you have absolute and utter faith in the inviolable authority invested by God in your Thumb? If you answered “yes” to all of these questions, then you are ready to go on to Lesson Two.
Lesson Two: Establishing Your Doctrine
Congratulations! You’ve come a long way, but you’re not there yet. What I want you to do now is to go to the nearest Christian book store and purchase a copy of the Bible. Preferably, it should be bound in nice, shiny black leather, and should have gilt edges and a red silk ribbon. It should of course be the King James Bible, which is the only Bible written in the true tongue of God (remember: all other versions are Satanic attempts to pervert the True Word of the Lord). It should be fairly hefty in size, but not so large that you cannot hold it with one hand. Finally, it should have the words of Jesus in red letters, for as you know the Son of God only spoke using red letters.Now that you have your Bible, read it, and read it thoroughly. I imagine that some of it will fit in perfectly with your beliefs and morals, since you have been inspired by God to attempt this indoctrination into Fundamentalism. Remember that the more strict and conservative your beliefs, the better: it’s difficult to keep your mind shut to new ideas, but to be a Fundamentalist you must keep your mind clean and unsullied by ideas which could threaten your beliefs. You must remember that your beliefs are the ONLY right beliefs, and all others are falsehoods and are totally incompatible with God’s Divine Truth.
Now you may be dismayed as you read through the Bible to find that much of it is outside your beliefs, or may even contradict them. No problem! All you have to do is take a black marker pen and blot out those verses which you don’t like. Simplicity itself! Now don’t you worry if it seems that more of the Bible is blacked out than left behind: just remind yourself that the remaining verses are emphasized all the more.
Remember that the Bible represents YOUR doctrine, and is the Divine statement of your beliefs. It wouldn’t do for it to say something which contradicted your beliefs. That would be silly! Besides, nobody is actually going to see INSIDE your Bible. You can wave it in front of people, quote from it, shove it under their noses, hit it with your fist, and even use it as a weapon, but for Heaven’s sake don’t let anyone READ it!
Now that your doctrine has been established, I would like for you to repeat Lesson One, substituting “Bible” for “Thumb.”
Have you done it?
No fair cheating!
Now: do you believe that your Bible is the utter, absolute, and inviolable law of the universe, coming to you directly from God, and that it is your Divine mission to live by your Bible and to feel superior to those fools who don’t listen to you and who are guaranteed to burn in Hell?
Congratulations! You are now officially a Fundamentalist!
Lesson Three: Living a Fundamentalist Lifestyle
Well, I’m sure that you novices are simply bursting with questions on how to apply your new-found faith to your lives. I am pleased by your enthusiasm: such zeal is a necessity if you want to begin to work your influence on this filthy and sinful world and mold it into a clean and upright one. Those Spawn of Satan are simply itching to be preached at, whether they want it or not, so let’s get cracking and Save those Souls (even though they don’t deserve it)!First of all, let’s work on personal appearance: to be moral and upright you must look the part. If you’re a man, you must keep your hair short and well-groomed, your face clean-shaven (a beard or moustache is acceptable ONLY if it is IMMACULATELY trimmed), your teeth clean and white, your breath minty-fresh, and your wardrobe strict and unassuming: slacks, tie, and white shirt (preferably long-sleeved so you can roll them up while witnessing) are the clothes of a God-fearing man, and NOTHING else. If you’re a woman, you must keep your hair neat and pinned up, your face only slightly made up (only heathens paint their faces), your figure neat and trim (a too-full figure is a dead giveaway for a shameless slut of Satan), and your wardrobe moral and proper: a dress (preferably dark or neutral colored, no plunging lines) is the ONLY proper garment for a God-fearing woman.
I imagine that you’re ready to ask me “Now that I know how to dress, how do I act?” That is a very good question to ask, and a somewhat difficult one to answer. Essentially you must follow your Doctrine which is in the Bible, but not TOO closely. You are the wielder of the Almighty Bible, and because of that you are ALREADY Saved, and are concerned more with the conduct of others so that they may also be Saved.
Let’s get into some concrete examples. Playboy is a magazine of Satan, and anyone who reads it is in danger of Damnation — anyone, that is, except you. For you know the ways of Satan, and are familiar with his traps, and you are always vigilant against his foul schemes, and thus you must scan his works constantly so that you may point out their atrocity to others. The same principle also applies to X-rated films, dancing halls, taverns, and brothels. [Note: this applies only to men. Women must stay home and support their husbands, and under no circumstances are they allowed to rest their innocent gaze upon profane situations (unless they happen to be checking up on their neighbors in the name of God and decency).]
Now we get to raising a family. You of course know that you are to raise your children properly and morally, and thus they must never be exposed to anything which is the product of Satan, including comic books (unless they are CHRISTIAN comic books), TV programs (unless they are CHRISTIAN TV programs), heavy metal rock music (there is NO such thing as CHRISTIAN heavy metal rock music), evolution (which is possibly the deepest imaginable insult to the intelligence of God), sex education (you can teach them about moral behavior yourself and at the same time protect their innocent yet corruptible ears from any mention of s-e-x), globalism (God wants us to DESTROY Communism, not cooperate with it), and equal rights (if God had wanted us to be equal, He would never have created women). As for religious education, I am sure you realize that women and children cannot properly develop their own religious faith — it must be given to them from a higher source: their husbands and parents.
Now we get to the gist of your faith and the justification for your life: the teaching and conversion of others (through guiding their lives for them). It is absolutely essential that you remember from Lesson One that only YOU are fit to guide your life AND the lives of others. All other people cannot in their ignorance of The Way live their own lives properly unless they can see the Light and receive the Salvation of God and Jesus which ONLY YOU may bring to them. Your Way is THE WAY, and all other paths lead to Satan and eternal Damnation, and it is YOUR Duty to show The Way to others so that they may enter (behind you) into Heaven.
Let’s look again at a concrete example: art and literature. Only YOU can say what is moral and upstanding in art and literature and what is not. Any work of “art” or “literature” which you feel is profane, blasphemous, or otherwise immoral is instantly the product of Satan and it is YOUR responsibility to make sure that its ugly blot upon the moral fibre of the Wonderful God-fearing Land of the Free is wiped out utterly so that our Glorious Nation may Shine Out as a Star of Righteousness amidst the Black Cloud of Satanic Communist Corruption which Blankets the World.
Well! Your heart must simply be bursting with Pride, Patriotism, and Love for God right now! And I’d bet that right now you’d rally behind a Leader who believes in the same things that you do. You guessed it: your next step is to find a religious Leader whose beliefs are YOUR beliefs, and who knows that YOUR way is HIS Way and that YOUR Way is THE Way to Salvation. Once you get behind that Leader, life becomes simpler. He knows YOUR beliefs, and thus if you ever feel any doubts about how to run your life, HE can make your decisions for you. All you have to do to insure your fidelity to him and to God is to follow him without question, and to give him as much money as you can so that he may bring the Way of the Lord to everyone in the World.
Remember that Fundamentalists have to stick together and rally under a Leader, for in numbers is Power, and in Power is the ability to change the World for the better. So remember that though YOU are the instrument of God through the guidance of your Bible, you also have the responsibility to make sure that your influence is felt, and the best way to do that is to join up with those who have CLOUT, so you can fulfill your wildest dreams: ban books and movies, ban abortion, enforce prayer in school, establish a national religion, create a national moral and dress code, and more! With the proper Leader, all this can be in your grasp.
Well now, I’d say that you’re just about ready to go out into the world and begin your career as a Fundamentalist. But not quite yet: you must first prepare yourself to face the opposition.
Lesson Four: How to Overcome the Spawn of Satan
As you preach The Way to others, you will inevitably run into those who not only doubt the veracity of your words, but who also pose trick arguments inspired by Satan in an attempt to trap and discredit you. This lesson deals with some of the major swords wielded by various tempters, and gives you some ideas on how to parry those weapons.Biblical scholars: these vermin use their high-falootin’ technical jargon and book-learning to pervert the words of the Lord and read things into the Bible which aren’t there. The Bible was written by God for YOU to use, and contains EVERYTHING you need to know for Salvation, plainly stated in black and white and red. There is nothing archaic or mystical about it: it speaks out in the Words of the Lord and speaks directly to YOU.
If the scholars say that the Bible evolved (note the use of heretical words) over a period of millennia, changing and altering from one translation to another, you can reply that the WORD OF GOD TO MAN is immutable, and speaks out exactly the same way today as it did to Moses. If they say that the historical and cultural context was completely different then, you can reply that MAN IS MAN and has not changed his sinful ways since Adam. If they say that you completely misunderstand the situations behind the composition of the Bible, you can reply that THEY completely misunderstand the situations behind the composition of the Bible. And if they say that they can prove their point because of years of scholarly and scientific research studying the Bible and its history, you can reply that the only true scholarship is FAITH and TRUST in the WORD of the LORD.
Scientists: these unfortunate heathen have strayed from the path to Heaven, ensnared by the trickeries of Satan, believing in them utterly. As a result, they cannot accept the eternal Truth contained in the Bible. You must tell them that God is perfect, and the Word of God is therefore perfect, and cannot contain falsehood. Therefore anything which is in your Bible is the absolute Truth.
If the scientists say that they have amassed countless evidence to support their atheistic theories, you can reply that their evidence was given to them by Satan to trick them into disbelieving in God. If they say that the processes which shaped the Earth can still be seen happening right now, you can reply that Satan is still working right now to deceive those who cannot comprehend the Truth which is in your Bible. And if they say that the Bible is not completely factual, but is rather mythical in many places, you can reply that they simply do not understand that God speaks not in mysterious ways, but speaks directly to Man through your Bible, and speaks not in riddles or symbols, but only speaks the absolute and utter Truth.
If other Spawn of Satan say that the Bible cannot speak the utter Truth because it is inconsistent in what it says, you can reply that there is no inconsistency in your Bible: everything that you have in your Bible perfectly supports your beliefs (remember Lesson Two). If they quote passages from the Bible which they claim contradict your beliefs, you can reply that Satan has inspired them to pervert the words of the Lord and to twist their meaning around in order to try to subvert the Truth. If they say that you are being totally ignorant and irrational in your absolute belief in your Doctrine, you can reply that they are being totally ignorant and irrational in their absolute refusal to believe in your Doctrine. And if they say that you are shutting your eyes to reality, you can reply that they are shutting their eyes to God.
There now! Isn’t that easy?
All you have to do to counter their arguments is to turn their arguments against them. In fact, you should easily be able to defeat the arguments of a wide variety of heretics, such as Theologists, Democrats, Liberals, Peaceniks, Environmentalists, and Humanists. And you don’t need a fancy scientific vocabulary to do it! If you keep your mind on the straight and narrow path, God (and/or your Leader) will do your thinking for you. And if things turn against you, all you have to do is proclaim the Truth even louder, letting your Zeal and Faith drown out all unbelievers, and causing the weakened opposition to crumble under the force of your Inspiration.
That’s about all that I have to give to you. I hope that these lessons were informative and helpful toward your long and difficult quest toward Fundamental Salvation. From now on, it’s up to you (and your Leader) to show The Way which leads you and your flock to Eternal Life.
May God bless you, and give you the Power to glorify His works in preparation for His Coming. Amen.