A Reminder of Religious Expression in Texas

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The Texas Supreme Court has declared that churches have the ultimate legal right to harm someone if it is in the course of that church’s “religious expression.” The case was about injuries received by a 17 year old female congregant who underwent a torturous excorcism at the hands of other members of that church.

This video is a subtle reminder of another incident of violence that could easily be called “religious expression.” On July 3, 2002, twin brothers, Pastors Joshua and Caleb Thompson severely beat an 11 year old male congregant, because the child didn’t appear to take his Bible lesson seriously. From the church, the boy was taken by Joshua and Caleb to the home of one of the pastors, and the men proceeded to beat the child, almost to death.

Some viewers may ask, “If the mother says she was shocked this happened because the pastors had never given a sermon supporting that, or ever mentioned supporting that, then how is this termed “religious expression?” My answer to that is this: Remember what the pastors said to the parents of the child when they dropped him off: They tried to break the child, and make him “repent from wrongdoing.”

How far does the blanket legal protection for religious abuse extend? Joshua and Caleb were sent to prison and their church is still active, solvent, and preachy…as always. That’s Capitol City Baptist Church in Austin:

I bring this case up again this month because of the more recent Texas Supreme Court case in which the Texas Supreme Court declared that churches have a protected right to harm people if it’s in the course of their “religious expression.” This older case shows how Texas used to handle these things, and brings attention to the continuing need for vigilance against harmful churches. It also shows that churches are getting more protections all the time. Plus we just need to be aware.

I got this message from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice: Offender Celeb Thompson, #1208295, is located at the Wynne Unit, Huntsville, Tx 77349. He will not be eligible for parole until 12-8-2010. Offender Joshua Thompson, #1208296, is located at the Huntsville Unit, 815 12th Street, Huntsville, Tx 77348. He will not be eligible for parole until 2-8-2016.

UPDATE: A Christian blogger has posted the text of a letter from Caleb, from prison, dated March 20, 2011. So obviously he was denied parole. In Texas, that means a lot. Our prisons are crowded, and it takes a lot to blow parole for someone who had no prior convictions. Here’s that blog and the letter:

Here’s the website of the Arkansas church that’s trying to bring about an early release of Joshua and Caleb:

Here’s another website that seems to support the Thompsons:

A J.A.M. Production

Religious Intolerance and America’s Image and Policies Abroad

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March 22, 2018 | The values of the American Creed – pluralism, diversity, and tolerance – sustain U.S. global leadership and provide an aspiration to others. These principles contribute to the appeal and influence of the United States on the global stage. Insidious intolerance and delegitimizing rhetoric domestically undermines these ideals and provides space for hate crimes and degrading actions, threatening to devalue the currency of U.S. power. This panel discussion examines the impact of subtle and overt forms of domestic religious intolerance on the U.S. image and ability to pursue our policy objectives abroad. Looking forward, what can the U.S. government and civil society do to shape the narrative, rhetoric, and policies in the United States to preserve these unique components of our power?

Dealing with Theist Family Members That Are Religious | Jacob – IL | Atheist Experience 23.05

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The Atheist Experience 23.05 for February 3, 2019 with Tracie Harris & Matt Dillahunty.

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Policy and Poetry: The African American Religious Imagination and Social Transformation

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2018 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion
November 18
Denver, Colorado

African American religion has played an invaluable role in shaping public policy debates in the United States and abroad. A sobering truth, however, emerging from many social justice movements is that legislation cannot combat all dimensions of inequality and prejudice. Many manifestations of inequality and prejudice remain locked behind the steel doors of the most gated house—the human heart. Those doors are often pried open slowly by another persuasive dimension of African American religion—“poetry.” By poetry, we mean various aspirational, symbolic, and artistic expressions not limited by the sometimes deadening exactitude of “policy speak.” This interactive roundtable discussion, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for the Study of African American Religious Life, will feature diverse, religiously-inspired “poetic” performances. These performances will accentuate the significance of embodiment and aesthetics in the epistemologies and social change theories of Africana people.

Eric Lewis Williams, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture, presiding

Elonda Clay, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Jennifer S. Leath, Iliff School of Theology
Vincent Stringer, Open Church of Maryland
Brad Braxton, Smithsonian Institution
Tef Poe, Hands Up United

Justice Department Religious Liberty Summit Part 2

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The Department of Justice held a Religious Liberty Summit hosted by Acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio. During the event, Attorney General Sessions announced the creation of a Religious Freedom Task Force. The event also included remarks from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Archbishop Kurtz, and Senator Lankford, and two featured panel discussions.

Woman Says Her Tumors Disappeared After Visiting Religious Wisconsin Shrine | Megyn Kelly TODAY

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Megyn Kelly speaks with Nancy Foytik, who was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. After visiting Wisconsin’s National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help, the only place in the U.S. recognized by the Catholic church as a site where the virgin Mary appeared, Nancy’s tumors on her left lung disappeared. “We just knew when I walked out of the chapel that day that I was going to be cured,” she said.
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Woman Says Her Tumors Disappeared After Visiting Religious Wisconsin Shrine | Megyn Kelly TODAY

US Religious Song – “Victory in Jesus”

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“Victory in Jesus” is a religious hymn composed by Eugene Monroe Bartlett in 1939.

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5 Insane Religious Cults That Actually Exist

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5 INSANE Religious Cults That Actually Exist
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Hello everyone! All throughout the world people subscribe to different belief systems, and it’s probably a lot more common than you think for people to be lured into a cult. In fact, you might be a cultist and not even realize it! These are the ten most dangerous cults throughout history!

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A look inside Tony Alamo’s religious cult from people who survived it

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Tony Alamo wasn’t just a big story in Arkansas, the evangelist and cult leader made national headlines for many years and even created fashionable jackets for famous celebrities like Michael Jackson.

Will You Be Ready (VHS) – The Bolton Brothers,”Revival In Atlanta”

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The Bolton Brothers continue in their excellent ways on their third project for Blackberry Records, this time moving beyond the bounds of Memphis into Atlanta.

Their decades of singing experience shine through on every note on this new project, titled Revival in Atlanta. There’s nothing real fancy here, and that’s a good thing. Because you shouldn’t fiddle with great traditional group singing.

The project is crammed with songs that lean on the tried and true themes of old, with encouragement, exhortation, anticipation and testimony all wrapped up in hearty vocals under the production guidance of The Williams Brothers.

Kicking things off is “Come & Go”, an apt introductory number for no other reason than four of the Boltons take their turn on lead. The songs motors on with rich and busy keyboard support till half way through, when key changes kick into heavy drive, relentless pushing the as heaven is described in wonder.

The Bolton BrothersVocal interplay is always excellent with The Bolton Brothers, with trading leads and some wonderful and sometimes wordless improvisations. On this CD, you can hear all of this on the slowly turning “I’m Going Through”, one of several songs that also features the New Hope Baptist Church Choir with overdub supplements from Jackson Mississippi’s EnPraise Singers. At just under eight minutes, it’s still too short.

On “To See Jesus”, brothers James and L.W. share the mic on the soft start, with falsetto entries and only touches of instrumentation behind them. To shouts of encouragement from the congregation, the song moves into the main melody which has some interesting and unexpected twists. The second half of this album jewel (the song is split into two tracks) brings in brother James as well as the renowned Bishop James Morton, who pastors the New Beginning Full Gospel Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia, where the album was recorded.

The Bolton Brothers satisfy demand for no doubt traditional quartet singing several times, with songs such as “Let It Be Real” and “Bless The Name of Jesus”. Their interpretation of the familiar “Come By Here” is excellent.

“Oh How I Love You” is one of a couple of cuts that uses churchy sounding rhythms with non-traditional beats. Semi-contemporary chorus backing from choirs amidst wailing guitar from Undra Watts underlines the vocals as Minister Cedric King and James Bolton share lead.