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May 13, 2011

Will the world end on May 21st?

Short answer: No. Of course it won't. And none of these charlatans believe it will either, or else they'd be acting like the world was going to end. For the longer answer, read on. Why the world might end next Saturday - Religion - Salon.com
Maybe you've already encountered the literature: pamphlets, subway ads, billboards on the side of the highway. "Judgment Day is coming" reads one billboard, which features a man praying in silhouette against a sunset backdrop. These are the works of a peculiar breed of Christian activists who've taken to the road to preach their belief in the fast-approaching End of Days. The self-appointed harbingers are not tied to any particular church -- they claim organized religion has been corrupted by the devil -- but rather to Internet- and radio-based ministries. And their lone mission is to tell anyone and everyone that the end of days is May 21. That's when, they insist, God's true believers will be lifted into heaven and saved, during a biblical event widely referred to as the Rapture. The finer points of Christian eschatology have long been the subject of dispute (not to mention the inspiration for movies and books, like the blockbuster "Left Behind" series). Though mainstream churches reject the the notion that doomsday can be predicted by any man, fringe scholars continue to work feverishly pinpointing the moment of the final, divine revelation. And one such man -- 89-year-old radio host Harold Camping -- has been at the game for decades. In the early '90s, Camping published a book titled "1994?," which claimed judgment day would arrive in September of that year. When confronted with such a staggering anticlimax -- the world, after all, kept on spinning -- Camping chose not to be discouraged, but to learn from his mistakes. (He hadn't considered the Book of Jeremiah, he says.) A civil engineer by trade, Camping went back to the drawing board and continued to crunch the numbers, before arriving at the adamant determination that Rapture would come on May 21, 2011. He began to spread the word through his broadcasting network, Family Radio, in 2009, and quickly built up a fervid following. But what, exactly, is his argument? We've compiled an explainer below with all the information you'll need to prepare for May 21. . . .

May 08, 2011

Clever church signs often bite you in the ass

Joe. My. God.: Church Sign Of The Day

May 07, 2011

25 years after the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh temple collapse, the dark truth is finally aired

25 years after Rajneeshee commune collapsed, truth spills out -- Part 1 of 5 | OregonLive.com
The Rajneeshees had been making headlines in Oregon for four years. Thousands dressed in red, worked without pay and idolized a wispy-haired man who sat silent before them. They had taken over a worn-out cattle ranch to build a religious utopia. They formed a city, and took over another. They bought one Rolls-Royce after another for the guru -- 93 in all. Along the way, they made plenty of enemies, often deliberately. Rajneeshee leaders were less than gracious in demanding government and community favors. Usually tolerant Oregonians pushed back, sometimes in threatening ways. Both sides stewed, often publicly, before matters escalated far beyond verbal taunts and nasty press releases. Three months after the aborted Comini plot, the commune collapsed and the Rajneeshees' darkest secrets tumbled out. Hand-picked teams of Rajneeshees had executed the largest biological terrorism attack in U.S. history, poisoning at least 700 people. They ran the largest illegal wiretapping operation ever uncovered. And their immigration fraud to harbor foreigners remains unrivaled in scope. The revelations brought criminal charges, defections, global manhunts and prison time. But there was much more. . . .

April 27, 2011

Atheists push for Humanist chaplains in the military

Atheists Seek a Place Among Military Chaplains - NYTimes.com
Strange as it sounds, groups representing atheists and secular humanists are pushing for the appointment of one of their own to the chaplaincy, hoping to give voice to what they say is a large — and largely underground — population of nonbelievers in the military. Joining the chaplain corps is part of a broader campaign by atheists to win official acceptance in the military. Such recognition would make it easier for them to raise money and meet on military bases. It would help ensure that chaplains, religious or atheist, would distribute their literature, advertise their events and advocate for them with commanders. But winning the appointment of an atheist chaplain will require support from senior chaplains, a tall order. Many chaplains are skeptical: Do atheists belong to a “faith group,” a requirement for a chaplain candidate? Can they provide support to religious troops of all faiths, a fundamental responsibility for chaplains? Jason Torpy, a former Army captain who is president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, said humanist chaplains would do everything religious chaplains do, including counsel troops and help them follow their faiths. But just as a Protestant chaplain would not preside over a Catholic service, a humanist might not lead a religious ceremony, though he might help organize it. “Humanism fills the same role for atheists that Christianity does for Christians and Judaism does for Jews,” Mr. Torpy said in an interview. “It answers questions of ultimate concern; it directs our values.” . . .