Five Things I Learned at the Mothman Festival

I used to go to church every Sunday morning. Last week, I did something rather different: I went to the Mothman Festival.

The Mothman Festival happens every year in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Legends of the Mothman first started in 1966. Locals told tales of a large, winged creature with glowing red eyes. Some say the Mothman predicted the collapse of the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant, a disaster that took the lives of 46 people in 1967, exactly 13 months after the creature first supposedly appeared.

In 2002, The Mothman Prophecies, a story loosely based on those events, became a hit film, and the festival became an annual event. A tribute statue to Mothman was created in 2003. It stands proudly in the middle of the town and inspires pilgrimages among crypto-zoologists, reminiscent of the journey a devout Catholic might take to seek out a sacred statue of the Virgin Mary.

Even as a skeptic, I have a particular fondness for the Mothman Prophecies film. Coming from a very restrictive religion with little tolerance for most movies, it was one of the first supernatural thrillers I’d ever watched in my life. When I found out there was a festival, I just had to check it out for myself.

Here are some things I learned while I was there:

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Witness to Oregon Shooter Says Victims’ Religious Beliefs Were Irrelevant

In a New York Times account of what happened at Umpqua Community College last week, we may have the most definitive evidence yet that it was not, as many have claimed, an anti-Christian rampage by the shooter.

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David Barton Lies with Data to Claim Churchgoers Want More Sermons on Abortion and Gay Marriage

It’s easy to look at the results of a survey and shout them from the rooftops if they confirm your narrative… without ever looking at what group was polled.

So if you wanted to show Muslims are all horrible, you might point to a survey from the Pew Research Center showing the percentage of people who think stoning is an appropriate punishment for adultery:

But that would be unfair. That survey, if you read the fine print, says very clearly that these percentages are only “Among Muslims who say sharia should be the law of the land.” So, yes, among the people who want Sharia law, a whole bunch of them want extreme sharia punishments. But among all Muslims, you’d see very different results.

David Barton, the Christian pseudo-historian, made the same mistake this week on Glenn Beck‘s online show.

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Saudi-Born Singer Criticizes Arab Countries for Blaming the West for Their Longstanding Problems

In a stunning interview on Egyptian television, singer Shams (a.k.a. Shams Bandar or Shams the Kuwaiti) told a host that Arab countries need to stop blaming the United States for their problems. After all, the U.S. has only been around for less than 300 years. Meanwhile, “for 1,400 years, we have been slaughtering one another, just because one of us prays one way and another prays a different way.”

Incredible stuff. Subtitles included:

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It’s Blasphemous and Now I’m Hungry

This is a real product:

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