"Frugal Gourmet" Denies
Molestation Allegations
by Chuck Shepherd

January, 1997

Public television's "Frugal Gourmet," Jeff Smith, an ordained Methodist minister, has denied that he sexually molested any of the five men who have filed complaints against him for having fondled them as boys.

One of the men, Keith Thomas, who had worked for Smith in the 1970s as part of a high school work-study program, said that at the time he had shrugged off Smith's hugs and kisses as "weird, but [I thought] maybe that's the way it is with people in the food business."

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You laid it out, for all to see ...

(Lennon/McCartney)

Maharishi's Political
Platform Released
by Chuck Shepherd

May, 1997

According to the 1997 platform of the Natural Law Party (based on teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi) in Canada, people should stop using the south and west entrances to their homes because they are inharmonious and should instead use north and east entrances.

Furthermore, Canadians entering the U.S. should do so from Niagara Falls, whose entrance (from the east) is the only nonsouthward entrance in the country.

The Party proposes to eliminate the federal deficit by "eliminating problems" and to create an "invincible" national defense through yogic flying (which resembles hopping like a frog).

The Party got 84,000 votes in 1993.

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However big you think you are ...

(Lennon/McCartney)

Unbeliever Fired: Files Suit
by Chuck Shepherd

February, 1998

Abby Kisling filed a wrongful-firing lawsuit in Des Moines, Iowa, against the telecommunications firm USA Global Link Inc., claiming she was terminated because she doesn't believe in transcendental meditation.

Almost all of the firm's employees meditate on company time, and many are graduates of the nearby Maharishi University of Management.

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Roman Catholic Greed, Betrayal

Nuns Ordered Tutsis
Into Hutu Hands
by Chuck Shepherd

April, 1997

The London, England, human rights organization African Rights accused two Roman Catholic nuns from the Benedictine abbey in Maredret, Belgium, of ordering dozens of frightened Tutsi refugees out of their compound in Sovu, Rwanda, into the custody of Hutu soldiers, who almost immediately killed them.

According to African Rights investigators, the sisters helped the Hutus willingly in order to protect their compound.

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Global Television Poll

Where Miracles
Really Come From
by Chuck Shepherd

December, 1996

In a poll of Ontario residents commissioned by Global Television and reported by the Toronto Star, it was revealed that a majority believe in miracles, although the Star pointed out that some respondents' standards are lower than others, such as in one man's example of a miracle he had witnessed: "I went to someone's house and got a good deal on a power tool that I wanted for a long time."

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Statute Saves Guilty Priest;
Church Recovers Expenses
by Chuck Shepherd

May, 1997

The Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed a $1 million award by a jury that had found parishioner Dale Scheffler, 30, to have been molested at age 14 by Catholic priest Robert Kapoun, finding that Scheffler's lawsuit was barred by the statute of limitations.

Two weeks later, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced that it had filed with the court a claim of $4,937 against Scheffler to recover part of its legal expenses since the Archdiocese is now regarded as the winning party.

Father Kapoun filed for $1,081.

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Women Shouldn't Be Working

Church Says Day-Care
Unbiblical, Closes Center
by Chuck Shepherd

March, 1997

The First Baptist Church of Berryville, Arkansas, closed its day-care center, declaring its purpose inconsistent with the teachings of the Bible.

Working mothers wouldn't have to work, said the Church, if they did without "big TV's, a microwave, new clothes, eating out, and nice vacations."

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U.S. Saved Founder

Buddhist Sect Prays To
Buddha, George Washington
by Chuck Shepherd

February, 1997

The Houston Chronicle reported on the local Buddhist Temple of the Great Bodhisattva Washington, which founder Ong Dao Ton believes is the only temple in the world to jointly pray to Buddha and George Washington.

Ton says he has about 40 members and formed the temple because he believes the United States saved him from oppression in Viet Nam twice, in 1954 and 1973.

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Rapist Has
Special Gift From God
by Chuck Shepherd

March, 1997

Eddie Clyde Harris, 38, was sentenced to life in prison in Neosho, Missouri, for the attempted rape of a 57-year-old woman.

According to a psychiatrist who testified at the trial, Harris believes he has a special gift from God that enables him to look at a woman and determine whether she is promiscuous and that the victim in this case passed his test.

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Pastor Resigns

Fistfights End Among
Elderly Baptist Congregants
by Chuck Shepherd

May, 1997

Rev. Joe Bullard resigned from the Copper Ridge Baptist Church in Halls, Tennessee, ending what had been a months-long feud with many of the parishioners over whether he was pocketing the offerings by pilgrims who had come from afar to see the so-called glowing-cross apparition in the church windows.

Police had been called several times to break up fistfights among its largely elderly congregation.

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Mayor Prays For Rain

Phalluses Driven From Town
by Woody Johnson

May 21, 1998

BANGKOK -- Bowing to public pressure, mayor Kitisak of the northern Thai town of Sena, ordered the removal of more than two dozen phallic symbols he had brought in for rituals at a local fire station.

Thailand has been gripped by drought for the last six months, and the phalluses were used to pray for rain according to animistic folklore.

Residents believe the phalluses, as large as ten feet (3m) long, triggered a spate of fires instead. They threatened to hold a mass rally if Kitisak (known by only one name) did not grant their wishes and remove the phalluses. At least four fires had broken out in the town since the phalluses arrived, she said.

"The phalluses were brought into town last month as part of a rite to appeal for rain from the deity but people said they brought fire and bad omens instead of rains," a municipal official said.

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Congregants Heckle,
Boo Baptist Pastor
by Chuck Shepherd

December, 1996

During a feud over who did and did not have the authority to fire minister Marvin Hodge of the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church in Rembert, South Carolina, Hodge's opponents would regularly attend services and heckle and boo him while he preached.

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Crucifixion As Kitsch
by Conrad Goeringer

September 1, 1996

Every year in April, around the time of Good Friday, there is an outbreak of ritual and real crucifixions in the Philippines where certain local Catholics allow themselves to be tied -- even nailed -- to crosses for a few hours, ostensibly to commemorate the sado-masochistic tribulation of the god-man, Jesus. Last year there was a scandal reported -- one of the crucifictionees was a gentleman from Japan named Shinichiro Kaneko, who turned out to be an actor in pornographic films.

We now learn that Kaneko's performance on the cross is still scheduled for release on video, much to the consternation of Filipino Christians. In addition, there have been some other recent crucifixions, including:

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What Would Jesus Do?

Men Nail Selves To Crosses
by Chuck Shepherd

April, 1998

Jose Albeiro Forero and two other municipal employees in the town of Cartago, Colombia, nailed themselves to wooden crosses with five-inch nails to fortify their demands for a salary increase and other benefits.

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Same Cross, Next Year!

Fourteen Nailed In
Brutal Crucifixion Ritual
Associated Press

April, 1995

Kapitangan, Philippines (AP) -- At least fourteen people, including a Belgian woman, were nailed to crosses in Good Friday rituals that re-enact the death of Jesus. The ritual, which takes place in Manila and surrounding Luzon Island, is among the more spectacular of the Easter Week rites in Asia's only Roman Catholic country.

Godolieve Rombaut, 54, a Belgian visitor, fainted after spending two minutes nailed to a cross in the broiling sun. She was revived with guava leaves, a native treatment, wherein she promised to undergo the ritual again next year.

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Same Cross, Next Year!

Sterilized Nails Used In
Bizarre Crucifixion Ritual
by Chuck Shepherd

April, 1996

Yearly, instead of Easter communion in Cutud, Philippines, volunteer Catholics are crucified, with real nails.

Fourteen endured it this year (wailing agonizingly in pain), which marked the first year that HIV-conscious townspeople were assured by church leaders that only sterilized nails were used.

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Same Cross, Next Year!

Tourism Bureau Hosted
Grisly Crucifixion Ritual
by Chuck Shepherd

April, 1997

Carrying on a 40-year tradition, Filipinos in the village of San Pedro Cutud recently conducted their Easter audience-participation crucifixion ceremonies, with 12 volunteers nailed to crosses with sterilized four-inch spikes in a show of absolution.

For several years the Philippines Department of Tourism was an official sponsor of the event.

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"Porno Christ" Is Nailed -- Again

Philippine ''Christ'' Is
Really S&M Porno Actor
by Conrad Goeringer

April 24, 1996

Every year, Christians from across the world flock to the town of San Fernando in the Philippines for a round of "Holy Week" events which culminate in a gruesome ceremony depicting the alleged crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The more devout become religious celebrities if they volunteer to literally be crucified. Actors dressed up to resemble Roman Centurions actually drive spikes into the hands (and sometimes the feet) of the willing victims, who are then hoisted aloft for a few minutes while the flock of on-lookers wails and prays.

Although the Philippines are nearly 80-percent Christian, with the bulk of this group belonging to the Catholic Church, ecclesiastical authorities are ambivalent about the San Fernando ritual. Officially, the church encourages masses, prayers and other religious events; but the San Fernando crucifixions have become the biggest box office draw for local churches and peddlers of religious kitsch.

Now, a Japanese publication known as The Weekly Post has revealed an embarrassing piece of news; of the 13 men nailed in the recent Easter crucifixion, Shinichiro Kaneko, is "an actor in sadistic porno films" and participated "because he was filming an adult video." News agencies throughout the world mentioned Kaneko in their original stories about the San Fernando crucifixions, how he "wailed in agony" as the phoney "Roman Centurions" drove four-inch nails through his palms, and how he was hoisted into the air for voyeuristic public consumption.

The Post adds:

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