Jehovah Died on the Challenger

By Sarah BraaschIn Loving Memory of My Baby Brother, Jacob Michael Braasch (01/28/86 – 02/02/10)I was working on this piece when I received news that my beloved youngest brother, Jacob, had taken his own life by hanging himself in my parents' basement.I was ten, almost eleven when my mother told me and my brother and sister that she was pregnant again. I didn't speak to her for weeks. I was a good little Jehovah's Witness girl back then, but I'm pretty sure that the present day equivalent … [Read more...]

Strange and Curious Sects: Chabad Messianism

You get all kinds of weird and amusing religious literature on the New York subways, and here's the latest proof:Click to enlarge. Also see interior and back cover.If you've attended a college with a significant Jewish population, you're probably familiar with Chabad House, an organization that runs community centers and programs for observant Jews. What you may not know is who runs these centers - or one of this group's stranger and more curious offshoots, the subject of … [Read more...]

Stigmata Scars

By Sarah BraaschI'm scared to expose myself like this. But, I'm tired of the shame and the guilt and the fear. I have something important to say. And, I want to comfort other victims of religious abuse who feel alone and afraid.I grew up in an abusive Jehovah's Witness home. When people ask me what my childhood was like, I usually describe it, in all seriousness, as something like growing up in a war zone. I don't mean to belittle or demean the experiences of children who actually grow up … [Read more...]

Jehovah's Witnesses Hate the Smurfs

By Sarah BraaschIn the early 80's, the primary preoccupations of the Jehovah's Witnesses were Armageddon, Smurfs, Michael Jackson and demonic attack, but not necessarily in that order. As a young Jehovah's Witness girl, my worldview was what you might describe as surreal. Smurfs were little blue imps disguised as Saturday morning cartoon characters. They were capable of murder, rape, violence and general mayhem, and, as such, all Smurf paraphernalia had to be either banished or burned or both … [Read more...]

Strange and Curious Sects: Asatru

I once wrote an essay for Ebon Musings, "Parting the Parthenon", that was a semi-serious debunking of the ancient Greek gods. I wrote this as a reply to Christian apologists who accuse atheists of singling out Christianity for criticism, but also to show how many similarities there are between these ancient myths and the modern religions still believed by millions, and to implicitly ask what makes one more worthy of belief than another.So far, I haven't received any outraged letters from … [Read more...]

Exposing Scientology

I've written about the ludicrous "space opera" beliefs of Scientology (the Plan 9 from Outer Space of modern religions). In the future, I want to tell the story of my personal encounter with Scientology proselytizers, but today I have another subject: some recent news exposés that reveal the secrets and the machinations of the cult.First and foremost, the St. Petersburg Times deserves credit for its truly superb investigative reporting on the inner workings of Scientology. In their 2009 … [Read more...]

Strange and Curious Sects: Raelism

As humanity's understanding of the universe evolves, our religious beliefs change along with it, and the result is that every new religion bears the stamp of the time and place in which it first arose. Mormonism is an example - Joseph Smith used "seer stones" to translate the Book of Mormon, and claimed that the Native Americans were descendants of ancient Hebrew tribes, at a time in American history when both those ideas were in vogue. Today's post concerns a more recent, yet equally strange … [Read more...]

Another Cult Leader Convicted

I've got to give the government credit: they've been doing an excellent job cracking down on criminals who try to hide behind religion. Between Kent Hovind, Warren Jeffs, and now a new conviction, federal prosecutors have been diligently enforcing the law against creeps, con men, and petty tyrants who claim that the law of God gives them license to break the laws of society.This month's creep is Tony Alamo, former head of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries. On Friday, Alamo was convicted on ten … [Read more...]

The Case for a Creator: Meet Jonathan Wells

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 3Strobel's first interviewee is Jonathan Wells, author of the polemic Icons of Evolution. Icons attacks evolutionary theory by seeking to discredit what are, allegedly, its best-known supporting lines of evidence - its "icons" - such as the Miller-Urey experiment, Archaeopteryx, and the Cambrian Explosion.We'll get to that soon, but first I have to address what, to Strobel, must have been a bit of awkwardness. Virtually unique among modern advocates of ID, … [Read more...]

Strange and Curious Sects: Koreshanity

Cyrus Reed Teed, a.k.a. the Prophet Koresh. Public-domain image from Wikipedia.It seems that every religion has at least one signature bizarre belief: whether it be that the messiah is an American soldier who will return from across the ocean bringing marvelous cargo, or that human beings are possessed by the ghosts of murdered aliens, or that God wants us to transform him into crackers and consume him each week. But for sheer extravagant, defiant wackiness in the face of obvious … [Read more...]


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