Hell, Norway, that is!

Humanists in Hell
-- It's Official!
Source: Fall 1997, Vol 17, No 4 Free Inquiry

September, 1997

Those Doubting Thomases (yes, that means you!) who think there's no such place as hell should think again. To travel down the wide path to hell, you simply head north from the Norwegian city of Trondheim. The village of Hell is in fact a green and pleasant land, where the only hot coals are those used for traditional saunas. And the inhabitants of Hell include six paid-up members of the Norwegian Humanist League. So I am pleased to invite you to "Go to Hell" -- you are sure to get a warm welcome in a hotbed of humanism.

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And We Bought It, Too!

 

Oregon Author
Heard God's Voice
by Chuck Shepherd
source: Reuters

May 27, 1996

In a Reuters news service feature on spiritual-themed books, author Neale Donald Walsch described how he created his best-seller, Conversations with God. Walsch said he wrote questions on a legal pad and then heard God giving the answers, which Walsch also wrote down. "It felt like someone was just whispering in my ear," he said. Asked why God chose him to give the answers to, Walsch said, "If someone such as me can receive this kind of information ... then all of us are worthy."

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Blessed like Tom Mix?

Sickly Man "Blessed"
With Recuperative Powers
by Chuck Shepherd

January, 1997

Dick Shields made the Pittsburgh, Pa., newspapers on his 75th birthday on January 11 for his remarkable recuperative powers. Among the medical traumas from which he has recovered: in a coma near death for a week after a burst appendix; three times a broken neck (once while falling out of bed during recuperation from a previous broken neck); a broken back; triple-bypass heart surgery; a grapefruit-sized blockage of a blood vessel; a fungus that ate the skin off his feet; and duty during World War II that included hand-marking of active mines.

Said Shields, apparently without irony: "I'd have to say I've been truly blessed."

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Satan and a Duck!?

Multiple-Personality
Disorder Brings
Multiple Bills
by Chuck Shepherd

March, 1997

Ms. Nadean Cool won a settlement of $2.4 million in her lawsuit in Appleton, Wisconsin, against her former psychotherapist Dr. Kenneth Olson.

She claimed that he had first persuaded her that she had a Multiple-Personality Disorder (120 personalities, including Satan and a duck) and then billed her insurance company for "group" therapy because he said he had to counsel so many people.

Olson, seeking greener pastures for his psychotherapy business, had since moved to Montana.

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First Things First

Fan Couldn't Kill
Soccer-Loving Unbelievers
by Chuck Shepherd

January, 1997

On an Israeli TV program, Hamas militant Rashid Saqqer, who was captured by the PLO last year before he could carry out a scheduled suicide bombing in Israel, waxed rhapsodic about his love of soccer. He said he was such a fan that "I couldn't [kill myself] in [an Israeli] soccer stadium. Yes, they are Zionists [and] unbelievers. But I couldn't do it [there]."

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 Earth is the
center of
the universe

Cleveland State University
Professor Believes Bible
by Chuck Shepherd

March 15, 1993

The Cleveland Plain Dealer profiled professor James Hanson of Cleveland State University, noting that he "calmly holds to his conviction" that the Earth is the center of the universe because he believes the Bible, against what a colleague calls "libraries of proof against [that belief]." Hanson said he had also "exhumed the original research of the man who discovered [carbon-14 dating], and I got very different conclusions."

Said Hanson, "I believe what I believe."

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Preachers Even
Fall For It!

Oak-Tree Demons:
"We Want Your Blood"
by Chuck Shepherd
source: Palm Beach Post

March 6, 1993

In Port St. Lucie, Florida, four Christian pastors and two parishioners performed an exorcism of an oak tree just off Interstate 95. It has long been known in the community that two victims of a mass murderer were hanged from the tree in 1977, but things became more urgent recently when two kids reported being chased away from the tree by people in hoods shouting, "We want your blood." Instead of razing the tree, the property owner elected the exorcism and the erection of a cross nearby.

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Opiate of the Opiated

Jesus Malverde:
The Patron Saint
of Drug Dealers
by Chuck Shepherd
source: Albuquerque Journal, AP

September 4, 1995

The Associated Press reported on the popularity of Jesus Malverde as the adopted patron saint of drug dealers in Culiacan, Mexico. Local farmers regularly credit him for their success at growing and smuggling drugs and worship icons of him in local buildings.

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Think and Do What!?

Thinking Technique
Increases Breast Size
by Chuck Shepherd
source: L.A. Times Magazine

February 21, 1993

Rick Brown of Los Angeles introduced a $69.95 audiocassette program for women, "Think and Grow Breasts," consisting of hypnotic creative-visualization exercises designed to take women's minds back to puberty, to re-engage the "mammary-building process."

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Works as good as that
"Mineral Body Wrap"!

New Bra Increases Breast Size
by Chuck Shepherd

December, 1997

Clearwater, Florida, entrepreneur Victoria Morton announced that she has developed a brassiere that can increase cup size during wear by repositioning fat near the breasts. "If a woman has extra tissue anywhere above her waist, even on her back, she can use this bra to create bigger, firmer breasts," said Morton, 62, in a press release.

Morton is the person credited with inventing the "mineral body wrap" weight-loss technique in the 1960s.

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Unclear On The Concept
by Chuck Shepherd

December, 1997

Pietra Thornton (estranged wife of actor Billy Bob Thornton), told USA Today that she was proud of her surgically enhanced breasts. "[S]uddenly everyone's looking," she said. "God gave me this body, and I shouldn't be ashamed of it."

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If thy right mind offend thee ...

Man Who Cut Off
His Own Hand Is
Now Suing Hospital
Associated Press

May 14, 1996

NORFOLK -- A man who thought the devil possessed his right hand and cut it off, then refused to let doctors reattach it, is suing the hospital and the doctors for loss of the hand.

Attorneys for Thomas W. Passmore claim doctors at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital should have contacted Passmore's parents or his sister to overrule his decision.

The lawsuit said Passmore, a 32-year-old computer specialist temporarily working on a construction job, thought he saw the number "666" on his hand and believed it was a demonic sign.

Obeying the Biblical instruction "If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee" (Matt. 5:30), Passmore cut off his hand at the wrist with a circular saw.

He was rushed to Norfolk General with the hand packed in ice. Doctors had about 12 hours to reattach the hand.

In the emergency room, a plastic surgeon examined Passmore and told him the hand could be reattached with an 80 percent to 85 percent chance of success, the lawsuit said. The patient said he had a history of psychiatric disorders and had used Lithium for manic-depression.

A psychiatric resident was called in. Passmore told the doctor he had an appointment at the local mental health center later that week, had a history of alcoholism, had two past psychiatric hospitalizations, and had had little sleep, little food and racing thoughts for the past week. The resident prescribed anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic medication, the suit said.

According to the lawsuit, doctors asked Passmore for permission to reattach the hand, and he signed a consent form. But just before surgery, he changed his mind, saying he thought he would go to hell if the hand were reattached "because it was inhabited by the devil."

Confused as to what to do next, the surgeon called in the hospital's risk manager who called Circuit Judge William F. Rutherford for help, the lawsuit said.

According to the suit, the surgeon and the hospital did not tell Rutherford that Passmore was incompetent. As a result, Rutherford advised the hospital to heed the man's wishes and the hand was not reattached, the suit said.

The lawsuit, which asks for $3 million compensation plus $350,000 in punitive damages, was filed April 22 in Norfolk Circuit Court. It has not yet been served on the defendants. If Passmore's lawyers do not do so within one year, it will be dropped.

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Hacked Off
"Demonic" Hand

Christian Self-Mutilator
Passmore Loses Court Case
by Chuck Shepherd

September, 1997

In June 1996, News of the Weird reported that construction worker Thomas W. Passmore, then 32, had filed a lawsuit for $3.35 million against a Norfolk, Virginia, hospital and four doctors over the loss of his hand.

Passmore admitted to having severed the hand with a power saw because he believed it to be possessed by the devil and to having refused twice to allow doctors to reattach it, vowing that if they reattached it, he would just cut it off again. However, he claimed the defendants were negligent because they ought to have persuaded his family to overrule his poor decision.

In September 1997, after a 30-minute deliberation, a Norfolk jury ruled against him.

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'Tara Klamp'Costs US$40

Disposable Circumcision
Device Approved
by Chuck Shepherd
source: Edmonton Journal

April 17, 1996

Malaysian inventor Gurcharan Singh announced that he was marketing a breakthrough, $40 "disposable circumcision device" approved by Muslim religious authorities. It is described as resembling a corkscrew and is called the Tara Klamp.

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Masonic Initiation
Scheme Backfires
by Chuck Shepherd
source: St. Paul Pioneer-Press

March 26, 1993

Thomas Clayton Marsteller, 48, a member of a local Masonic Temple, was charged with sexual assault in Minneapolis in March by a woman who alleged that Marsteller had threatened her when he assaulted her several times in 1992 by telling her that he would block her husband's Masonic membership application if she didn't consent.

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"Nothing Wrong With John"

John Salvi Championed
by Chuck Shepherd
source: Biloxi Sun-Herald

January 2, 1995

John Christo, a friend of accused abortion-clinic murderer John Salvi, admonishing the media for portraying his friend as a serial killer: "There's nothing wrong with John whatsoever other than he killed a couple of people."

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Tell Us Something New!

Vatican Appalled Over
Surrogate Mother
by Chuck Shepherd

March, 1997

Family Values: A Milan, Italy, newspaper reported that a 35-year-old woman was three months' pregnant with the fetuses of two couples, whose children she agreed to bear because of a shortage of surrogate mothers.

She said blood tests after birth would determine which baby is which.

The Vatican and Italy's health minister announced they were appalled.

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Pro-Life Pol:
Rape Victims
"Don't Get Pregnant"
by Chuck Shepherd

April, 1995

During a debate on government funding for abortions, Rep. Henry Aldridge told the North Carolina House Appropriations Committee that rape victims didn't need the fund because "they don't get pregnant." "[P]eople who are raped -- who are truly raped -- the juices don't flow, the body functions don't work," said the 71-year-old periodontist.

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Pol Appointed:
"Rape Victims
'Don't Get Pregnant'"
by Chuck Shepherd

March, 1996

North Carolina state Rep. Henry Aldridge made the news in 1995 when he denounced state funding for abortions for rape victims as unnecessary in that a woman who is "truly raped" doesn't get pregnant because "the juices don't flow, the body functions don't work."

In March, 1996, North Carolina House Speaker Harold Brubaker appointed Aldridge co-chair of the Committee on Human Resources, which oversees abortion funding.

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Part Of An
"Educational Mission"

Rabbi, Dressed As Cowboy,
Spotted At Nude Bar
by Woody Johnson

January 29, 1998

Obliquely acknowledging that no religion is superior to another at curbing vice, students at a Jewish seminary in Jerusalem are demanding that their rabbi dismissed after he was spotted at a nude bar dressed as a cowboy, according to the Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

According to the story, a customer recognized the rabbi at the bar, snapped some photos, and distributed the pictures among the rabbi's students.

The newspaper did not name the seminary or the rabbi, but said that seminary officials tried to keep the incident quiet for over two months. Officials called the rabbi's visit an "educational mission." "The rabbi gave up his soul and went to this abominable place to check whether students from the seminary tended to go there," one official said.

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