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I suppose this is no different than thinking that the Virgin Mary has appeared in a stain on a hospital window or flocking to see a weeping statue of Mary, but somehow it seems even more bizarre. For the past two weeks hundreds of Muslims have been making a pilgrimage to a West German University Clinic to see the Messiah being breastfed by his dead mother. They've been drawn there by a rumor spread via Turkish websites. According to the rumor, a Muslim woman died while giving birth to Allah's chosen son. She was buried, but later dug up (why?) and found to still be alive, although her entire body was burned except for her breasts. Allah ordered her to breast-feed the Messiah, and then die again forty days later (wasn't there a James Bond movie with a title like that?). A clinic spokesman told the media that people have been coming from as far away as the Netherlands, and that the clinic eventually had to call in security guards to turn away some of the people who refused to believe that the Messiah wasn't there. No one can find the original internet posting that sparked this whole crazy thing, but the rumor has been discussed on turkdunya.de where one person reportedly claimed to have seen the Messiah's mother. (thanks to Big Gary for sending me a link about this... Gary, this story does appear to be true, so I guess people will believe anything)
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Sat Jun 26, 2004
Comments (0)
Back in October 2001 the prestigious Journal of Reproductive Medicine published an article titled "Does Prayer Influence the Success of in Vitro Fertilization–Embryo Transfer?" (the journal appears to have removed this article from its server). The apparent answer to the question posed in the title was 'Yes!' In other words, empirical research appeared to demonstrate that praying could help infertile women conceive. So tough luck if you were an infertile atheist. But a recent article in The Observer reveals that this prayer study was nothing more than a sham. The author of the article, Daniel Wirth, is a serial con-artist, now living under house arrest in California, who possesses no scientific credentials whatsoever. It boggles the mind why the JRM ever published something like this. As Bob Carroll of the Skeptic's Dictionary points out, never mind that the research was fraudulent. The entire premise of it was self-contradictory. He notes:
If prayer works by influencing God to influence the outcome of an experiment, then God can interfere with the laws of nature at any time. If God can interfere with the laws of nature at any time, then no controlled, double-blind study can be sure of the meaning of whatever outcome results. Any result could be the result of direct influence by God. In other words, the assumption the study is based on is self-defeating. No science at all would be possible if God could be interfering with the laws of nature at will. Science requires a backdrop of lawfulness in Nature in order to discover any causal connection between anything and anything else.
Categories: Birth/Babies, Religion, Science
Posted by Alex on Fri Jun 11, 2004
Comments (1)
Just last night I added a new feature to the site: a discussion forum (I'm calling it the Hoax Forum) where people can post questions or info about new hoaxes they've found. I figure this will be better than having everyone email me stuff like this directly, since the email just sits unanswered in my inbox for ages. And already, on the first day of the forum's existence, someone has posted something good. Rachel Hurley found Fluids for Christ, which claims to be a blood bank for Christian fluid donations. After all, what good Christian would want to receive heathen blood? The site is almost believable (there are Christian Credit Agencies and Christian Pharmacies, so why not Christian Blood Banks?), until you start looking through it and it begins to become obviously silly, such as when they start describing their "Christpherization methods" of separating out the Christian components of blood.
Categories: Body Manipulation, Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue Jun 08, 2004
Comments (1)
image Karl Marx did say that religion is the opium of the masses. Well, now it's also a direct supplier of Prozac, Wellbutrin, and Zoloft. Yes, you can get all this and more over at JesusChristRx.com. You can even order up a whole bunch of cheap Viagra from the Son of God himself, if that's your thing. I really don't know what to make of the site. It appears to be a genuine online pharmacy. The Presurfer (whose site I found the link at) notes that it's some kind of knock-off of ChicagoRx.biz. If you click on the About Us link, it even describes itself as Chicago Rx. I suspect JesusChristRx is simply yet another attempt to doll up a business for the Fundamentalist crowd by slapping a Christian label on it... even if the business has nothing whatsoever to do with religion. Kind of like the Christian Debt Removers site I stumbled upon last week.
Categories: Health/Medicine, Religion
Posted by Alex on Mon Jun 07, 2004
Comments (2)
image I got spammed today by Christian Debt Removers, an organization which advertises itself as a debt elimination service "based on Christian principles." Whatever that means... your guess is as good as mine. The only thing I could figure out was that they've slapped a few proverbs up on their site and this somehow makes them 'Christian.' Of course, the one Christian phrase that's conspicuously absent from their site is the line from the Lord's Prayer: "forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors." But somehow I suspect that, whatever principles they might claim they hold, they draw the line at debt forgiveness. Anyway, I was about to write them off as just another company jumping on the Christian bandwagon to make a quick buck, when I did a little research and discovered that ChristianDebtRemovers.org is the exact same organization as DebtRemovers.org, which is a featured sponsor of Gay World. Immediately my opinion of them went way up, since I was glad to discover that their Christian principles didn't conflict with their support of the gay community. But I do think it would be nice if they could make their support of both Christianity and Gay Rights more evident (especially since the fundamentalist Christian and gay communities traditionally have been rather antagonistic towards each other). Maybe change their tagline to "based on Christian principles and official sponsors of Gay World." That would be pretty catchy. Though maybe, just maybe, they don't actually care about Christian principles or gay rights at all, and they're just cynically targeting different demographic groups with different messages. But no. That couldn't be.
Categories: Business/Finance, Religion
Posted by Alex on Wed May 26, 2004
Comments (14)
Sometimes I really have no clue what to make of a site. Is it serious, or just a joke? That's the puzzle that fatherly.org presents. It bills itself as a forum "made up of fathers who believe in a traditional, conservative, and practical approach to effective parenting and child discipline." Or, as it states more bluntly later on, it's promoting the message that "Christian parents know that the Word of God advises parents to use spanking as a form of punishment with their children." Okay, sure. Parents sometimes spank their kids. It's not the end of the world. But why create an entire website enthusiastically promoting the practice? Unless the whole thing is satire. It's a tough call. Some parts of the site seem so over-the-top that you think, 'they have to be kidding.' But somehow I get the creepy feeling that they're not. So I'm voting that the whole thing is real.
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue May 25, 2004
Comments (4)
Are you tired of religious spam filling up your inbox day after day? Then GodStopper may be what you need. It's the "ultimate in religion blocking software from the company that brought you SimJihad." It works to block faith-promoting messages from all the major religions: christianity, judaism, buddhism, islam, etc. But the real question is, will it work against the
Church of SpongeBob Squarepants?
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue May 25, 2004
Comments (1)
Since April, at least, a seller has been trying to auction off a recreated Ark of the Covenant on eBay. Apparently no one is willing to take it off his hands because bidding keeps ending without a winner, and he just keeps relisting the thing. This, despite the fact that the recreated Ark possesses some remarkable powers. It gives its owner the power to heal by placing on of hands. It allows the owner to converse directly with God. Oh, and it explodes cameras! (that last feature alone is worth the $99,999,999.00 price). Unfortunately, the Ark may soon be called upon to 'obliterate mankind,' so if you do buy it, you probably won't have long to play with it. (Thanks to Emily for pointing this auction out to me).
Categories: eBay, Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue May 18, 2004
Comments (10)
image Bush is Lord has collected evidence to prove that "George W. Bush is indeed not only our nation's leader, but our spiritual lighthouse and embodied salvation." Well, if this is true, then does that make Cheney an angel?
Categories: Politics, Religion, Websites
Posted by Alex on Tue May 18, 2004
Comments (4)
image Dawn writes in with a question: I was looking at this site: http://www.wayofthemaster.com/
and thinking it was one of these movie/tv promotions that you have been talking about, but it actually seems real. It's very strange. Has Kirk Cameron, the former teen heart throb turned into a Christian preacher or am I being gullible?

Yes, Dawn, Way of the Master is very strange, but I'm afraid it's quite real. This is one of those sites that you hope (or pray) for it to be a joke. You sit there as they tell you that if you don't buy their overpriced DVD, then someone you love will GO TO HELL, and you think, 'they've got to be kidding.' But sadly, this isn't another satire like Objective: Christian Ministries or Landover Baptist Church. These 'Way of the Master' guys are quite serious. As they say, truth can sometimes be stranger than fiction.
Categories: Religion
Posted by Alex on Sun May 16, 2004
Comments (24)
image BBC News has a good summary of the Shroud of Turin controversy, in light of the second face that was discovered on the backside of it. "Does this mean it is real after all? Or does it mean it's an even better hoax than was previously thought?" The answer: no one really knows. I noted in my book that the debate about the shroud rages on and likely will for the foreseeable future. The emergence of new evidence has simply made that more true than ever.
Categories: History, Religion
Posted by Alex on Sun Apr 18, 2004
Comments (24)
About a year and a half ago I posted an entry about a statue of the Virgin Mary in Perth that was weeping rose-scented tears. Critics and church officials dismissed it as a hoax created by filling the statue with some kind of oil. Now that same statue is back in the news again, crying even more publicly. The Archbishop of Perth has cautioned people that "the case for a miraculous happening has not been proved."
Categories: Mass Delusion, Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue Apr 13, 2004
Comments (0)
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