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Diane Vera

Everything the religious right wing is against, I am for!

NYC newspapers on today's exorcism trend
As part of my preparation for a discussion I'll be leading on the topic of The exorcism trend and anti-Satanist paranoia, I've searched Google for stories about exorcism in New York City newspapers. Here is what I found (omitting movie reviews):

Interviews with exorcist Gary ThomasCollapse )

About the 2011 exorcism conference by U.S. Catholic bishopsCollapse )

Russian boy dies of pneumonia after exorcism by Korean shamanCollapse )

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s participation in an exorcismCollapse )

The Regina Apostolorum's exorcism course in 2005Collapse )

An old story, from the year 2000, about the exorcism trendCollapse )

Bill Donohue boasts: exorcism now mainstream
Bill Donohue, president of the mis-named Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights (which, too often, seems to be more interested in imposing conservative Catholic values on the rest of society than in protecting the rights of Catholics as people) likes the movie The Rite, and likes most of the mass media response to it. Donohue says that the mass media have been mostly very respectful toward the Catholic Church's claimed power to cast out demons -- much more respectful than the mass media typically are toward the Catholic Church in general, he says.

Text of the Catholic League's Press releaseCollapse )

Actually, there has been some mainstream mass media criticism of the recent Catholic exorcism trend -- although, admittedly, not very much so far.

David Edelstein in New York Magazine, and some other criticsCollapse )

The exorcist-as-hero meme might eventually wear thin if there are enough sex scandals involving Catholic exorcists. There has already been at least one such sex scandal, though it hasn't yet been very widely publicized yet.

Links to pages about Father Thomas Euteneuer, disgraced former exorcist and anti-abortion activistCollapse )

Is "demon possession" real? I certainly don't claim to know the whole story, but, in my opinion, it's important to listen to what the skeptics have to say, even though they've gotten hardly any mass media coverage lately:

List of skeptical articles on exorcism onlineCollapse )

Catholic exorcism and NYPD "experts on occult crimes"???
I recently came across the news story Updated: Vatican steps back from Discovery's 'Exorcist Files' by T.L. Stanley, Los Angeles Times, January 10, 2011, according to which:

"Aside from the priests, experts like Richard Gallagher, a faculty member at Columbia University's Psychoanalytic Institute, will be part of "The Exorcist Files." So will psychiatrists, theologians and New York Police Department experts on occult crimes. The series doesn't have a host, per se, but Adam Blai, who identifies himself as a Roman Catholic demonologist, is a guide through the episodes."

The New York City Police Department has "experts on occult crimes"??? I'd sure like to know who they are and how they came by their alleged expertise. Historically, people who have billed themselves as "experts on occult crimes" have been, in most cases, Christians with an ax to grind against alternative religions and subcultures, regarding them all as demon-inspired. The linking of "experts on occult crimes" with exorcism is not a good sign.

It's worth keeping an eye out for anything having to do with Catholic exorcism in New York -- as well as Pentecostal and new-Apostolic "Deliverance Ministries," of course.

Some who's who of Catholic exorcism here in the U.S.A.Collapse )

Recovered memories -- true vs. false?
In a comment thread on Talk To Action, I got into an interesting discussion about "recovered memories" -- the very idea of which has been the focus of lots of controversy among psychologists and psychotherapists. Is it possible for people to repress, more-or-less completely, their memory of a traumatic event, and then to recover it later? The 1980-1995 "Satanic Ritual Abuse" (SRA) scare was fed, to a large degree, by "recovered memories" -- in many cases "recovered" via the "hypnotic regression" that was faddish back in the 1970's and 1980's.

Most of the writings I've read on the topic of traumatic "recovered memories" have had an all-or-nothing attitude: Either they were inclined to trust all (or at least most) "recovered memories" of trauma, or they were inclined to distrust all of them. Until just the past few days, I don't recall ever reading any intermediate stances except by a few of the people who endorse truly wacky SRA claims. And I never encountered anyone who provided any useful, down-to-earth advice on how to distinguish between probably-true and probably-false recovered memories of trauma. Admittedly I haven't been staying up-to-date on the relevant academic literature, so it's quite possible I missed something important.

In my Talk To Action post "Exorcism and religious intolerance," Tue Feb 01, 2011, I refereed briefly to the SRA scare and "recovered memories." Someone with the name OldChaosoftheSun replied with a comment arguing that recovered memories are indeed a real phenomenon -- and so too did ArchaeoBob, whom I am inclined to respect, here and here.

In my reply to ArchaeoBob, I said I would be "interested to learn more about the circumstances under which a recovered memory is likely to be true." ArchaeoBob replied with what seems to me -- at first glance, at least -- to be a very credible, down-to-earth list of differences between probably-true and probably-false recovered memories. Of course, I'm no expert on memory and not really in a good position to evaluate the validity of his list, but at least it's not prima facie wacky in my opinion.

Quick hello to folks from Religion Dispatches
This blog was linked recently from the article Crying Witch: Learning From the O’Donnell “Dabbling” Debacle by Spencer Dew on Religions Dispatches, October 28, 2010.

For those readers who might be looking for my group NYC Satanists, Luciferians, Dark Pagans, and LHP Occultists, which was mentioned in the above article, details are here on Meetup. It's a discussion group that holds regular monthly meetings in New York City and is one of the very few Satanist groups, anywhere, to hold regular meetings open to the general public. We welcome Satanists, Luciferians, "dark" Pagans, and "Left Hand Path" occultists of all law-abiding kinds, and we welcome people interested in learning about the many kinds of Satanism, Luciferianism, "Dark" Paganism, and "Left Hand Path" occultism.

Our next meeting is on Thursday, November 4.

"Satan" and the "God" of Christian dominionists
In the Dark Christianity LiveJournal community, in a thread titled They're at it again, begun by roseross, there was a comment by underlankers referring to dominionist Christianity as "de facto Satanism." Naturally, I questioned that.

Brief recap of conversationCollapse )

In my opinion, the very idea of "absolute evil" is an absurdity. It cannot possibly exist. See my page about Elliot Rose on the absurdity of "Evil" as a principle.

One of the philosophical considerations that helped me give up (a fundy-leaning form of) Christianity, at the age of 15, was my realization that the whole idea of "absolute Good vs. absolute Evil" was very war-propaganda-ish, and that it was highly unlikely that either side in any conflict could be 100% good or 100% evil.

Many years later, I had a totally unexpected series of profound, ecstatic spiritual experiences involving a Being that answered to the name of "Satan." Then, for several years after that, I spent quite a bit of time pondering what those experiences meant. I did not accept Christian theology, or an inversion thereof, but considered a variety of alternatives.

Recently, a few friends of mine and I agreed on the following "micro-creed" as an oversimplified summary of some important aspects of what "Satan" means to us:
We revere a God,
Who manifests at that which is feared,
Who dares us to face down our fears,
and to stand with those people who are unreasonable feared.

In those forms of Christianity and Islam that promote belief in a Devil, Satan is associated, primarily, with any and all straying outside the religion's own little box. However, to anyone with intellectual integrity, it is a good thing, not a bad thing, to face down irrational fears and to explore ideas outside one's own ideological box. So, if there's a divine Being out there that wants us to face down irrational fears and to have intellectual integrity, an enticing "Satan" would be the most emotionally resonant form under which such a Being could manifest to people in our culture.

No, I'm not a LaVeyan. I'm a theistic Satanist.

See also What is Satanism? and Satan and "Evil" in Christianity (and Satanism).

Meaning of "brat brigade"
treph posted a comment here, regarding my use of the term "brat brigade" to describe obnoxious teenage Satanists:
I'd appreciate it if you would respect the "Brat Brigade" a little more. Not all teenagers such as myself are uneducated in Satanism. Sure, you probably have your reasons for not liking teenagers and I do not blame you old curmudgeon iconoclasts but you should be a little more open minded. It is not easy being a teenage Satanist especially in these times and having people I look up to criticizing me for becoming a Satanist doesn't help either.

Let me clarify: I do not use the term "brat brigade" to refer to ALL teenage Satanists, but ONLY the ones for whom Satanism is primarily an excuse for being obnoxious, or in some cases an excuse for lawbreaking. A "brat," to me, is not just any kid, but an especially obnoxious kid. Unfortunately, Satanism does seem to attract more than its share of obnoxious kids, but not all young Satanists are in this category by any means.

My thoughts about other teenage SatanistsCollapse )

A Nigerian Yoruba chief stands up to the Christian and Muslim missionaries
Christian missionaries, especially of the dominionist/"Transformations" variety, love to claim that the spread of Christianity will dramatically reduce crime. But now a traditional Yoruba leader in Nigeria, Chief Kayode Idowu Esuleke, Baale Esu of Osogbo, is pushing back with similar claims for a return to the traditional Yoruba religion.

Baale Esu says: To eliminate crime, swear by Ogun, Esu or SangoCollapse )

Baale Esu also explains how the god Esu came to be identified with Satan. He says this was the result of a Bible translation by Bishop Ajayi CrowtherCollapse )

He then makes the standard Satanist/Luciferian/Gnostic critique of the Garden of Eden story -- with which almost any outside to the Abrahamic faiths would likely agree. What offence did Esu commit by helping people to become civilized?Collapse )

Christian anti-Santeria crusader here in NYC
Yesterday a press release was put out by one John Ramirez, author of a book titled Out of the Devil's Caldron: A Journey from Darkness to Light, in which he claims he was "trained to be the third-ranked high priest of a satanic cult (Santeria) in New York City--casting powerful witchcraft spells and controlling entire spiritual regions" -- until, for whatever reason, he finally converted to Christianity.

Links to press release and other sources hereCollapse )

I don't know enough about Santeria to know whether this guy is a genuine ex-Santero or is just making stuff up. (For example, I don't know whether a genuine "third-ranked high priest" would be likely to believe he had control over "entire spiritual regions.") I can only say, offhand, that (1) the press release gave me the superficial impression of sounding awfully Mike Warnke-ish, and (2) his claim that Santeria is a "Satanic cult" is obviously not objectively true, although perhaps it is something an ex-Santero who had converted to fundy Christianity might say.

Ancient Roman allegation about Christian ritual murder of infants
In the Mystic Wicks forum I saw a post about The New SRA Revival... by Bryon Morrigan, who also has a website and a blog. On his blog, a post titled Intolerant of the Intolerant contained a very interesting ancient Roman quote about Roman pagan rumor-mongering against Christians, reminiscent of today's "Satanic Ritual Abuse" scare. Among other things, Christians were alleged to have eaten babies.

Read the ancient ritual murder allegation here.Collapse )

In the Middle Ages, all too many Christians made similar allegations against Jews. And, these days, all too many Christians, and some other folks too, have made similar allegations against Satanists, Pagans, etc.

Recent posts on Talk To Action
Catching up with the Talk to Action blog, about the religious right wing, I find the following: Evangelical Latino Politicians/Pastors Lead Fight Against Same-sex Marriage in New York by Bill Berkowitz, Wednesday, May 20, 2009. About Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), and Ruben Díaz, a New York state senator from the Bronx who is also a Pentecostal minister.

I also came across the following storis about belief in grand conspiracy ideology by "Full Gospel" chaplains in the U.S. military: (1) Conspiracy Theorist Military Chaplains Promote Anti-American Militia Activity by Chris Rodda, Wednesday, May 20, 2009, and (2) Col. Jim Ammerman, Apostle & New World Order Conspiracy Theorist by Ruth, Monday, June 22, 2009. Ruth has also written another recent Talk To Action blog post about grand conspiracy ideology, Conspiracy as Prophecy, Friday, June 12, 2009.

Also on the topic of military chaplains, I found this rather scary post: Obama's [Reported] New Pastor: "First we get the military, then we get the nation" by Chris Rodda, Monday, June 29, 2009, about Lt. Carey Cash, pastor of the chapel at Camp David.

The Gay Pride parade this past Sunday
This past Sunday, June 28, I participated in the Gay Pride parade in Manhattan, as I like to do every year. This is a huge annual event, with tens of thousands of people marching.

Some details of my participation, including a flyer I distributedCollapse )

There was a small handful of counter-demonstrators at the traditional barricaded place allotted to them on one of the side streets across Fifth Avenue from St. Patrick's Cathedral. Details about the counter-demonstratorsCollapse )

As usual, there were quite a few liberal Christian religious groups marching in the parade. There were no Pagan groups, as there have not been for the past few years. There used to be a small group called "Witches and Pagans for Gay Rights," which marched every year. But not anymore -- even though there are some Pagan groups that meet at the LGBT Community Center in Manhattan.

Details on Pagan groups meeting regularly at the LGBT CenterCollapse )

Some other groups meeting regularly at the Center, of possible interest to NYARBBCollapse )

Will Espada bring the marriage equality bill to a vote in the NY State Senate?

We shouldn't jump to conclusions as to what the recent power play in the NY State Senate means for same-sex marriage, according to James Withers of 365Gay.com, in What will happen now to marriage in New York?, June 9, 2009. He points out that, contrary to the conclusions some gay bloggers have jumpet to, Pedro Espada Jr. (State Senator from the Bronx) has not only promised to vote "Yes" on marriage equality but is one of the co-sponsors of the marriage equality bill, according to page 2 of the New York Times story G.O.P. Regains Control of New York State Senate by Danny Hakim and Jeremy W. Peters, June 8, 2009.

Even better news: New Senate President Wants Vote on Same-Sex Marriage by Danny Hakim, New York Times City Room Blog, June 9, 2009

Some recent blog posts, on otherwise worthwhile gay blogs, that jumped to wrong conclusionsCollapse )

Latest news on same-sex marriage

Will the marriage equality bill pass the NY State Senate? That's still very iffy. Meanwhile, the NY State Senate is in a procedural uproar, according to a news story today, State Senate GOP Seizes Control In Political Coup, NY1, June 8, 2009.

Below are more news stories. As usual, I've bolded some who/what/when/where details about the religious right wing that I want to research further.

Recent news stories about the New York marriage equality billCollapse ) News stories about the victory in New HampshireCollapse ) News stories about yesterday's Gay Pride parade in QueensCollapse ) Miscellaneous news storiesCollapse )

The religious right wing flexes its muscles in the NY State Senate

Looks like the religious right wing has succeeded in stalling the same-sex marriage bill in the NY State Senate.

Below are some news stories from June 1. (I've bolded some who/what/when/where details that I should research further later.)

News stories from June 1Collapse )

And now for some more recent news stories on same-sex marriage, mentioning various religious right wing groups. Some stories from yesterday, June 3:

News stories from June 3Collapse )

And now for some news stories from today, June 4:

News stories from June 4Collapse )

Some detailed info about our enemies

On Friday I found a bunch of recent news stories about the same-sex marriage issue. One of the stories inspired me to write this NYARBB blog post, which I may also use as the beginning of a NYARBB pamphlet to be distributed at the Queens Gay Pride march.

The recent news storiesCollapse )

Here is a collection of quotes by Maggie Gallagher. From it, I found a bunch of earlier news stories.

Some of those earlier storiesCollapse )

Update on same-sex marriage in New York State
Here in New York State, a marriage equality bill has been passed overwhelmingly in the State Assembly, but we're now waiting for the State Senate, where it will be a tighter race.

Daily News story about state senators, from Queens, who oppose marriage equalityCollapse )

The Daily News story mentions that there will be a pro-marriage-equality rally in Astoria on Sunday. I found no further information about the rally via Google News.

CBS News story about poll results showing increased support for same-sex marriageCollapse )

"The Necronomicon" - To Jenny
In a comment that I've left screened because it contains the person's email address, someone named Jenny asked me about the Necronomicon.

The Necronomicon was originally a nonexistent fictional text that was referred to in H.P. Lovecraft's stories. Since then, a number of different "Necronomicons" have appeared. I am not aware of any good reason to believe that any of these are the "real" Necronomicon originally referred to by Lovecraft.

Read moreCollapse )

Same-sex marriage rallies, for and against
On Sunday, May 17, there were rallies in Manhattan on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue.

Links to news stories about the ralliesCollapse )

What's noteworthy here is the leading role of Hispanic Pentecostals. In years past, here in New York City, our local religious right wing consisted primarily of the Catholic hierarchy plus ultra-Orthodox Jews. Pentecostals and other Protestant evangelicals did not play a major political role around here, as far as I could tell. That seems to be changing.

An even more ominous new (as far as I am aware) development is the direct involvement of a Democratic politician, State Senator Rubén Díaz Sr. in organizing an anti-gay rally. Politicians, even Republican ones, don't usually take a direct leadership role in activist organizing for or against specific political causes. Usually they'll only lend their name to a cause that's already well-organized and popular among their constituents. Evidently there must be lots of well-organized homophobia in Rubén Díaz's neck of the woods.

P.S., May 19, 2009: Religious right wing in Nassau CountyCollapse )

Sex workers' rights websites and groups
One of the issues that New Yorkers Against Religion-Based Bigotry will eventually concern itself with is the rights of sex workers. In preparation for this, I've located some relevant organizations and websites.

List of sitesCollapse )

None of these groups seem to be holding any events in the near future, other than regular public meetings of SWOP-NYC.

P.S. (May 16, 2009): A semi-relevant new groupCollapse )