Ugandan Discussions on Pastor Accused of Raping Boy

Pastors condemn “sodomy” rather than alleged rape

The allegations of pedophilia and rape recently made against male Ugandan pastor Grace Kitaka (which I blogged here) have stirred his peers into action:

“The National fellowship of Born-again Pentecostal Churches of Uganda has set up its own committee to investigate the allegations against Kitaka,” the chairperson, Pastor Alex Mitala, announced yesterday.

That seems to be a more energetic than the efforts of the police, who don’t appear to have done much since Kitaka was arrested last year. However:

…”We warn all born-again Christians against all forms of sexual perversion and we state that sodomy has never been and will never be acceptable in the balokole (born again) community. And it is illegal under the laws of Uganda.” Mitala applauded Kitaka for resigning, saying the move would promote integrity in their churches.

Yes, the problem is that Kitaka is accused of engaging in gay sex, not that he’s allegedly a pedophile rapist.

A second report adds:

Pastor Martin Sempa of Makerere Community Church said on Tuesday he was “happy” that Mr Kitaka has been exposed. “All along I have been telling people about this guy,” he said.

Pastor Mitala said he wanted all the “dirt” to be exposed and called on the police to “do their duty and protect the public”.


The announcement means that should the investigators find evidence to implicate the cleric, the Kampala church of Imelda Namutebi, where Mr Kitaka is an associate, could also be blacklisted by the fellowship.

Namutebi is one of the most prominent Pentecostal pastors in Uganda; the man who accuses Kitaka of abusing him over many years also says that she made threats and offered bribes to keep him quiet. She and Sempa have reportedly been at loggerheads since he denounced her marriage to man who had left his family to be with her.

The news reports also link the story to a second scandal, concerning a Ghanaian pastor who was arrested recently at Entebbe airport:

Interest in the activities of the Pentecostals has been stoked further by the recent arrest and interrogation at Entebbe Airport of a Ghanaian-born Kampala pastor who procured an “electric touch” machine that is believed to shock unsuspecting followers who think it is the power of the Holy Spirit.

Mr Kojo Obiri Yeboah is now the subject of a police investigation. He was yesterday disowned by Pastor Mitala. “Obiri is not known to us as a member of the Born Again Christian community in Uganda”.

Italian Demo for Persecuted Christians

From the Catholic News Agency, last week:

More than three thousand people marched through Holy Apostles’ Square in Rome on Wednesday to demonstrate “against the exodus and persecution of Christians in the Middle East and for religious freedom in the world.” The march was organized by Magdi Allam, the vice director of the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.

Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches supported the march and said he hoped it would bring “positive results for the Holy Land, and for Christians in Iraq and Iran, that they might not feel forced to flee their countries.”

Allam is an Egyptian immigrant to Italy. According to a profile in Haaretz, he was raised to support Palestinian rights, but following emigration to Italy he came to realise that Yasser Arafat was “was a tyrant, a megalomaniac, corrupt and corrupting”. From this revelation, Allam concluded that Israel must therefore be in the right and should be supported unconditionally:

“The Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and Gaza demonstrates that the problem is not the need to withdraw from territories occupied in preemptive wars, but rather the Arabs’ lack of desire to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Israel erred in 1967 when it accepted the formula of territory for peace, and thus placed its very existence up for public auction.”

With views such as these it is highly doubtful that Palestinian Christian comnplaints about Israeli occupation would have been part of the demonstration’s agenda (I blogged on Palestinian Christian woes here, where I noted that two US congressmen who wanted to tout their support for Palestinian Christians “quietly withdrew” a resolution on the subject rather than include criticism of Israel).

The News Agency describes some of the speakers:

Auxiliary Bishop Shelmon Warduni of Baghdad told participants, “In the name of all those persecuted for the faith I thank you. I ask to you make the political and religious world and all public opinion sensitive to the plight of persecuted Christians and that you continue to do so in the future.

Former Italian government official Rocco Buttiglione said, “Religious freedom is the heart of all freedom and for the first time the public is being shown that Christians are being persecuted.”

Buttiglione, known to the media as a “theo-con”, has featured on this blog before. The Catholic World News adds some further details:

Among those participating were Italy’s former prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, and the former foreign minister, Gianfranco Fini. Rome’s chief rabbi, Riccardo di Segni, who was also at the rally, stated, “To negate religious freedom, which is the highest expression of freedom, is unacceptable…The fact that here, there are representatives of different religions is a stupendous example and a splendid sign.” The head of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, was also present at yesterday’s demonstration.

Fini, of course, is the notorious “post-fascist” who once opined that Mussolini “was the greatest statesman of the century”. Berlusconi told the crowd that

the denial of religious freedom is “unacceptable.” “The fact that people of different religions are here today is a wonderful example and a splendid sign,” he said.

The AP, meanwhile, gives us Foxman’s contribution:

“I stand here tonight as an American Jew and as a survivor of the Holocaust to say to you that ‘never again’ was a pledge that the Jewish people learned with great pain and sadness,” he said. “But ‘never again’ is not limited to Jewish pain and suffering. ‘Never again’ is an imperative whether they’re Jewish, Muslims or Christians.”

(Foxman, by the way, is currently facing calls for this dismissal over his support for Turkey’s campaign for the US Congress not to recognise the Armenian genocide)

AsiaNews notes a few other participants:

The initiative…saw the participation of some 4,000 people from different religions and various political currents. Speakers included: Attilio Tamburrini, of the Italian section of Aid to the Church in Need; Roberto Pazzeschi, of the Italian Evangelical Alliance; Jesus Carrascosa, Communion and Liberation’s director for international affairs; Souad Sbai, president of the Association of Moroccan Women; Riccardo Pacifici, spokesman of Rome’s Jewish community. At the request of the diocese of Rome, Fr Bernardo Cervellera also spoke at the rally.

The same site also provides the text of Cervellera’s speech, in which he implicitly compares the plight of Christians in the Middle East with the situation in secular Europe:

In a certain way, there’s something new about this evening: Westerners who are going back to thinking of Christians and religious freedom not as an historical embarrassment, but as a benefit for humanity as a whole and Europe above all.

It is not by chance that, in his beautiful speech at Regensburg, Benedict XVI dedicated just a few lines to the irrationality of violence in Islam and in religions, but he dedicated a long page to the irrationality of Western culture that wants to do without the religious dimension and Christianity. This false, irreligious culture, which suffocates the voice of Christians in Europe, is the herald of violence and dangerous also from the international point of view.

This evening’s step is a step toward the re-birth of a Europe that nourishes itself from its religious roots.

Looks like there was more than one agenda going on here…

Prominent Ugandan Pastor Accused of Sex Abuse Cover-Up

The Kampala Monitor reports:

Julius [Lukyamuzi] had a shattered childhood after his parents separated in mid 1990s. He lived his early years in destitution with his mother near Bwebajja on Entebbe Road. After his Primary Seven education, he came to the city in 1995 in search of employment. His story reveals how he found home on the streets, teamed up with street gangs for survival.

…His story is a fusion of sadness, exploitation and betrayal inflicted on him by people who were supposed to protect and counsel him. It’s also a glaring exposure of the emptiness of some of the emerging evangelical churches of pseudo-puritans who have turned into Devil’s disciples.

What follows is an account of how Lukyamuzi became a Christian and entered the household of Grace Kitaka, a male pastor who adopted him as son. However, Lukyamuzi also alleges that Kitaka forced him, and other boys, to endure years of extensive sexual abuse. Kitaka was finally arrested last year, but so far he “has never been taken to court”.

Kitaka, who heralds from a royal family, was the associate pastor of Liberty Center International, a megachurch led by female pastor Imelda Namutebi. Namutebi is part of the “A-list” of charismatic Christian leaders in Uganda; in May, as I blogged at the time, she shared the stage with Benny Hinn, who “said that he could see power around Pastor Namutebi, and prophesied an anointing for chasing demons and breaking witchcraft over her life”.

Lukyamuzi accuses Namutebi of colluding with the abuse:

In 1997, we boys who lived at Kitaka’s home told Pastor Imelda Namutebi that Kitaka was a gay. She said, “He is not, it can’t be, never talk about a man of God, never touch my anointed one…” She got a Bible and started counselling us. But we told her we were going to tell the whole world what this guy was doing.

She pleaded saying if we did, the church would split. She asked us what we wanted, we said we wanted to leave Kitaka. She told us to be patient and warned that if I told my mum, I would see what would happened to me.

The church’s website is down, but the MSN cache allows us to see Kitaka’s profile. I’ll quote at longer length than usual:

Pastor Grace Kitaka is the Associate Pastor of Liberty Worship Center. Prince Grace Kitaka was born from a Royal Family. His father Kitaka was one of the king’s royal men. His father grew up with the king Mutesa II of Buganda in the early 50.

Grace was born in June 1963 in a town around Kampala. Since his father was completely against the Christian faith, he grew up in a church environment. His Mother, Mrs. Beatrice Mugale Kitaka was a born again Christian and she always attended a home church called Full Gospel where Grace, her son was able to attend Sunday school too. It was with this background that he developed his love for Music. Grace says that he drew a lot of inspiration from one Mr. Sebulime David who is currently living in Texas USA; he held a rich talent in music. His first attempt to sing was during a youth outreach group that he joined in the early 1980’s. This line of Ministry created a misunderstanding with his dad and he therefore had to leave home in the search to serve God.

It was at around this time that he joined Pastor Robert Kayanja at Rubaga Miracle Centre. A number of doors opened for the upcoming worship Minister. He has this to say about his journey to becoming a pastor. ‘I happened to have started moving to different churches teaching music and training praise and worship teams. Well my dream was to start a music school and music recording studio to help the upcoming musicians. This never seems to work out faster than I expected. Therefore I left Rubaga Miracle centre and joined Victory Christian Centre where I traveled with Pastor Serwadda in a couple of countries.’ It was after a couple of years that he moved on to join the late Pastor Balyabyekubo where he was made Pastor.

Following the rapid growth of his Music talent, Pastor Grace was invited to Kansanga Miracle centre to teach Praise and worship. Here, he got to know Pastor Imelda Namutebi who was then the Associate Pastor at Kansanga Miracle Centre. Together they teamed up and started Liberty Worship Centre International.

He testifies that the Lord has greatly used him through the Ministry of Pastor Imelda Namutebi.

Namutebi, meanwhile, is a prominent exponent of the prosperity gospel, and one of the wealthiest people in the country. Last year, the New Vision noted her

…luxurious metallic green Toyota Prado, with a customised registration number plate, Psalms 8…

Alas, it turned out that the vehicle, and another one belonging to Pastor Robert Kayanja, had been stolen from Japan. Commentator Ernest Bazanye has further details about the pastor’s preferred mode sof transport

Pastor Imelda owns a Hummer H2, as bright and yellow as the woman herself, that is a perpetual nuisance to other users of Kampala’s narrower roads. When the monstrosity is bearing down on them, halogen headlamps searing white into their optic centre as they clamour to swerve onto the pavement and out of the way, I am sure motorists all find themselves thinking, “Behold the blessings the Lord doth visit upon his faithful servants.”

Namutebi is also a controversial figure due to her marriage to Tom Kula; this 2003 report gives some background:

Followers of Imelda Namutebi, a pastor at Liberty Worship Church Center in the suburbs of the capital, Kampala, and a notable public figure, attacked and severely beat [Nicholas] Kajoba, a journalist for the state-owned daily New Vision.

Kajoba had gone to the church to cover Namutebi’s first sermon since her controversial wedding the previous week. In the days before and after the wedding, New Vision had published a number of articles and readers’ letters about the marriage. Some of the letters criticized her for marrying a man who had not divorced his previous wife and implied that he had abandoned his first wife and child.

Church members attacked Kajoba when he tried to take a picture of Namutebi preaching. Namutebi encouraged the perpetrators, saying the journalist deserved the beating for his paper’s negative stories about her, sources at New Vision said. The church members took Kajoba’s notebook and film. The journalist was later treated at a Kampala hospital for a head injury.

Namutebi’s Liberty Worship Center is also active in South Africa, and she claims to have cured AIDS in the country:

The Lord has used Pastor Imelda Namutebi Kula to accomplish his great works through Miracles, Signs, wonders and prophecy in the small hometown of South Africa, Pretoria. Her Ministry has opened a new Chapter in the South African Pentecostal churches and God has used her as a great voice to attack the goliath of HIV/AIDS in South Africa.

The fire of this revival started in Pretoria in the humble home town of Soshanguve during an annual conference that was organized by Pastor Victor Mogkothla at the University of Tswane Premises from 24th-26th December 2006. During this powerful conference, Pastor Imelda Kula ministered and the power of the Holy Ghost touched the lives of people. Testimonies delivered proved that HIV/AIDS was healed and from this moment on, people who have come to these conferences have always testified that God has healed them from the HIV/AIDS scourge. It is important to note that the number of people who have so far testified about the cure of the scourge is at least 30 people.

the charges against Kitaka stick, there will hopefully be some questions about why she was not willing to deal with a “scourge” closer to home – and one that could have been dealt with without recourse to supernatural means. However, in the notoriously homophobic Uganda, it is just as likely that a conviction would be used to fuel a panic concerning “gays”, rather than to assess the problem of sexual predators among an unaccountable clergy.

UPDATE: More today.

Mel Gibson Denies Link to Anti-Semitic Polish Priest

From the JTA:

Mel Gibson denied he is making a film about a prominent Polish cleric with a history of anti-Semitism.

Several days ago Father Henryk Jankowski said in an interview with Poland’s Dziennik daily that he was in talks with Gibson about a possible film. But when Gibson representative Alan Nierob was asked by the Forward newspaper whether the report was true, Nierob offered an emphatic no.

The report comes as the notorious Jankowski is in the news over his announcement that he was establishing a chain of cafes:

Father Henryk Jankowski, a priest who played a prominent role in the Solidarity movement, said: “Ugly women need not apply to become waitresses in my cafes.”

He is to open a chain of 16 cafe-bars across Poland and will only employ good looking girls. He dismissed critics saying it was all for charity.

This is just the latest business venture from Jankowski, who was a prominent figure in Solidarity in the 1980s, but who subsequently fell from grace over his views on Jews. Here he is in 1984, stirring the Catholic faithful against communism in the wake of the murder of Fr Jerzy Popieluszko at the hands of the security services:

…Four years. One thousand, four hundred and sixty-one days. Days of struggle, exultation, despair, and hope. Their course is an illustration of the words Karol Wojtyla (in his Ethical Reader) when he wrote that, while taking care that the fight should not become an aim in itself, a Christian cannot avoid it if doing so would mean abandoning the defense of justice. Yes, my beloved, this is a bloodless fight, a noble fight, a fight under the sign of the cross…

However, by 1995 his focus had changed, and we can see why he would now feel an affinity for Mel “Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world” Gibson:

[Jankowski said]in June 1995, with Polish President Lech Walesa in attendance, that members of the Polish government have secret allegiances to Israel or Russia, and that the Jewish Star of David was part of the Nazi swastika and the communist hammer and sickle. In December 1995, during a meeting at his Church, Father Jankowski said, “I have nothing to apologize for my [anti-Jewish] words…Why shouldn’t we talk about such things as the murder of Germans by Jews? Why may we not talk about the Jewish-communist administration that governs Poland today? The reason is that they have banks, and everything else in their hands.”

The following year, he was complaining about a government apology for past antisemitism:

In January, the Polish foreign minister, Dariusz Rosati, wrote to the World Jewish Congress acknowledging that the 1946 Kielce pogrom was “an act of Polish antisemitism”…Henryk Jankowski, a Catholic priest from Gdansk known for his antisemitic views, said that Rosati had no right to apologize on behalf of all Poles and that “apologizing to the Jews is an insult to the Polish nation”.

In 1997, Jankowski faced charges of slandering Jews:

Jankowski in turn said the charges violated his rights of freedom of speech.

“It is a return to a communist totalitarianism,” he told reporters in Gdansk. “As a Polish citizen, I feel persecuted by the Jewish minority.”

He also complained about Jews in the government:

In October 1997, former Solidarity activist Father Henryk Jankowski denounced the expected appointment of Bronis³aw Geremek to the post of foreign minister because Geremek’s Jewish heritage. Jankowski stated that there was no place for Jews in the Polish government.

Jankowski was suspended for a year:

His archbishop said Father Jankowski had ignored earlier warnings about anti-semitism. Though the government spokesman said the ban was expected, it has been warmly welcomed by Poland’s small Jewish community. One rabbi said it was a bold move towards tolerance and reconciliation. “All we can do is applaud”, he said. But another leading figure noted that after Father Jankowski’s sermon, skinheads in Gdansk had attacked a young Jewish boy shouting anti-semitic insults. He said “they had to do something after that”.

However, the priest was soon back in action:

…After resuming his post Jankowski said he did not regret any of his statements. Referring to the conflict over the crosses at Auschwitz, he said that the demands of Jewish intellectuals that tried to turn Auschwitz into an extra-territorial entity reminded him of Nazi policy.

In January 1999 Fr Jankowski was once again in the news. In his parish church in Gdansk he was reported to be selling books claiming that the Jews ruled Poland and that the Polish government and church officials were in thrall to the Jews. After a number of bishops criticized him and he was instructed by the Gdansk Metropolitan Curia to remove the bookstall from the church, Fr Jankowski continued to sell the material from his home, located next to the church. In an interview with the Catholic News Agency, he expressed disagreement with the church officials and disputed that the books in question were antisemitic. He maintained that there was freedom of expression in Poland and that banning books was a return to totalitarianism.

This was followed by a further provocation:

In April 2001, controversial Gdansk priest Henryk Jankowski created in his church a replica of the barn in Jedwabne in which members of that town’s Jewish community were burned to death in 1941. A sign near the display accused Jews of having killed Christ and of persecuting Poles. The local archbishop ordered the tableau removed, and religious and political leaders strongly criticized its construction in the church.

Finally, in 2004, Jankowski was handed his cards:

A prominent Polish Roman Catholic priest who was once barred from the pulpit for anti-Semitic remarks was dismissed by the church from his parish Wednesday following new anti-Jewish comments and amid a pedophilia investigation.

The Rev. Stanislaw Zieba, who is chancellor of the Gdansk Metropolitan Curia, said in a statement he had decided to remove Rev. Henryk Jankowski as parish priest of the St. Brygida Church. Zieba did not give a reason for his decision.

…During the summer, Jankowski lashed out in a sermon against authorities who were conducting an investigation into allegations he had sexually abused a minor, saying it was a slander campaign orchestrated by “Jews and Judeo-Communists.”

The paedophilia accusation appears to have fizzled out quite quickly:

…Maria R. claims that Jankowski regularly abused her son, Slawek R., when he served as an altar boy, but according to most reports the boy himself denies the charges and says his mother is trying to get money out of Jankowski.

Jankowski says the boy sent a letter to church authorities denying the charges when his mother first raised them, although the tabloid Super Express reported on Thursday that the literary style of the letter looked more like that of a middle-aged priest than a teenage boy, and suggested Slawek had simply copied down what Jankowski had dictated to him.

On Thursday, the Rzeczpospolita daily reported that prosecutors had searched Jankowski’s residence, confiscating video recordings and a computer hard disk – but returning them when no evidence of a crime was found.

With recent revelations about priests spying for the communist regime, Jankowski saw a chance to seize the moral high-ground:

A prominent Polish cleric yesterday named about 40 priests who he said had spied on him for the secret services during the communist era.

Father Henryk Jankowski, who took part in pro-democracy strikes that led to the end of communism in 1989, read out the names, which included those of well-known church members in Poland, after studying secret service files.

…As an official “victim of the communist regime”, Jankowski has the legal right to study secret service files on him and also to publish the names of agents who spied on him.

…Jankowski’s superior, the Archbishop of Gdansk, criticised his decision to reveal the names, saying Jankowski had failed to justify the move.

And now, the priest has founded the “Father Henryk Jankowski Institute”, a charity which runs a range of businesses:

A prominent Polish cleric known for preaching against communism and for his anti-Semitic remarks said on Tuesday he planned to launch perfumes, clothing and cafes branded with his image.

…Aside from the recent launch, Father Jankowski already has launched a wine under his name and image know as “Monsignore.” He and his winery claim that not only is his wine affordable, but it also tastes great, reported Reuters.

…Whether or not his new line will be a success is unknown. However, Father Jankowski has many admirers and supporters throughout Poland and in the Catholic community, said Reuters.

That last sentence is really rather chilling…

Greece Calls for Israel to Recognise Jerusalem Patriarch

The Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem saga rumbles on. From Religious Intelligence:

Theophilos III…was appointed to the position two years ago after his predecessor was forced out of office following a disputed land sale in the Old City of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem has refused to recognise the new Patriarch, prompting Athens to renew its call this week for recognition ahead of an Israeli High Court ruling later in the year.

I’ve blogged on this several times in the past (e.g. here); Theophilos’ predecessor, Irineos, was found to have sold church land in Palestinian East Jerusalem to a company representing Israeli settlers, and which may have been financed by the government. Naturally, this angered and embarrassed Palestinian Orthodox Christians, who for many years have been dissatisfied with the Greek hierarchy of the church. Irineos blamed his treasurer, but was forced out of his position. Israel, however, continues to recognise Irineos (whom it originally opposed) rather than Theophilos, despite Irineos’s quoted “disgust and disrespect” for “the descendants of the crucifiers of our Lord Jesus Christ”. This is because Theophilos refused to endorse the land deal, and may be the source of future difficulties:

there are suspicions that Israel’s stand-off is motivated by concerns that the new Patriarch might refuse to extend the current long-term lease of land that includes the area housing the Israeli Parliament building, the Knesset.

The Greek government denies that Theophilos would do this (and notes that this is fifty years off), and in February it was announced that he was willing to sell church land in Israeli West Jerusalem. Haaretz reported in February that:

According to various reports, Theophilus promised both the Jordanians and the Palestinians that he would not sell additional properties in Jerusalem to Jews and that he would not authorize the hotels deal. That is why Jordan and the Palestinian Authority have recognized him as patriarch. However, Theophilus’ aides say that he is actually a “Zionist” and a great believer in Israel. As proof they cite the fact that he is about to conclude the sale of the properties of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem’s Rehavia neighborhood, and next to the old railway station in the city, to the Jewish National Fund and to Israeli companies. Another double knot: Theophilus, who was elected on a platform of opposition to selling properties to Jews, is actually an ardent supporter of the sale of properties to Israeli bodies.

This “double-knot” in fact led to his de-recognition by Jordan in May. The AP reported:

Last month, Jordan withdrew its recognition of Theophilos III, head of Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox Church, saying he failed to act on the controversial east Jerusalem land deal with Israel concluded by his predecessor, Irineos I.

A piece on Spero News reports Theophilos’s perspective on that:

In an exclusive interview with the Athens News, Patriarch Theophilos charges that private financial interests are behind the Jordanian cabinet’s May 12 decision to revoke his recognition, which must be approved by King Abdallah.

…Theophilos insists that representatives of about 70 Arab Orthodox communities who demanded the patriarch’s recognition be revoked are in fact a non-representative group mainly from Nazareth, pursuing their own economic interests. One bishop told the Athens News that the same people for many years have been suing the patriarchate to gain control of parts of the church’s vast landholdings.

…The daily To Vima reported on May 15 that King Abdallah’s cousin, Prince Gazi bin Muhammad, has been pressuring Theophilos to hand over a large land tract for commercial development near the Jordan River, where pilgrims flock to be baptised. Confirming this, church sources told the Athens News that the prince is also pressuring Theophilos to elevate Arab Orthodox Archimandrite priest Christophoros to bishop.

Theophilos also responded with a letter to the Prime Minister of Jordan, as was reported by the AP:

[Spokesman Nasser] Judeh said Theophilos’s letters to Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit included an assurance to the Jordanians that no land or illegal land sales had taken place and the patriarch’s adherence to the Greek Patriarchate Law of 1958.

The law bans the sale of any church land or property in Jerusalem, which Jordan ruled along with the West Bank until Israel seized the territories during the 1967 Middle East War.

Jordan decided to rescind the de-recognition last month:

“The decision was taken after the government was assured that the Patriarch had met the obligations he pledged to the government when he assumed his post in 2005,” Government Spokesman Nasser Judeh told reporters following the cabinet meeting.

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post offers a clue concerning one of the affair’s loose ends – the whereabouts of Nicholas Papadimas, the mysterious treasurer who made the land deal that brought down Irineos:

The aide, who has fled the country and is wanted by Interpol on an international warrant amid allegations that he usurped millions of dollars from the patriarchate’s coffers, remains at large. He is thought to be in South America.

Another shady figure alleged to have been involved with Irineos is Apostolos Vavilis, a former drug-dealer who was arrested on espionage charges in 2006 after fleeing from Greece to Italy via Thailand “with the help of his Taiwanese friends”. Vavilis, who has an Israeli ex-wife, had reportedly assisted with the original election of Irineos, and he was seen in Jerusalem in 2001 in the company of a monk named Nikodimos Farmakis, who lost his position as Archimandrite after he was found to have been carrying a gun; Farmakis represented Irineos at the 2002 Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi. Vavilis was also implicated various other scandals that engulfed the Greek Orthodox Church in 2005. There’s nothing more about him in the English-language press since then, at least that I could find.

Netanyahu Attacks “Messianic Apocalyptic Cult”

At the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Benyamin Netanyahu takes aim against the easy target of Iranian theocracy:

The Iranian regime is basically a messianic apocalyptic cult. There is a pathological stream to militant Islam that has suicidal elements, the cult of blood, the cult of death, and the cultivation of fantasy. An ideology based on fantasy is what makes militant Islam very different from any other ideology – including the cold war communist Russia and China, equipped nuclear weapons.

Of course, Netanyahu wouldn’t want to have anything to do with a “messianic apocalyptic cult”, would he?

Here’s Netanyahu with Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri, the distinguished Israeli Kabbalist who died in 2006 aged around 106. Shortly before his death, he prophesised that Sharon would be last Prime Minister before the coming of the Messiah, and he declared that

The revolution has begun…We want a monarchic regime in place of the current fascist regime which only pretends to be democratic. And we want the Temple of Jerusalem.

Kaduri called Israel “fascist” because of the Gaza withdrawal; evoking the Holocaust against political opponents is fairly commonplace on the Israeli far-right.

And here’s Netanyahu with another “messianic apocalyptic” leader. No commentary necessary with this one, I think.

(Hat tip: Cult News Network)

Kansas Education Board Member: “It’s Not Exactly a Separation of Church and State Unless Somebody Makes a Big Fuss”, a British TV channel for the teaching profession, has just broadcast the first episode of Education USA, a British documentary series on schools in America. The programme can be viewed at the station’s website here.

One section deals with the controversy over religion and evolution (from 15:30 on), and there is an interview with Kathy Martin (at 18:10), of the Kansas Board of Education. As ever, Martin presents Intelligent Design as a scientific theory being suppressed:

They were trying to limit any kind of discussion which didn’t completely endorse evolution. I thought that was a real red flag. Scientific discoveries are made because people have different ideas…We certainly need to include all scientific data whether it supports or refutes a certain philosophy or a certain theory.

However, the presenter, Peter Curran, notes that Martin has an “unconventional view” of what scientific data is, and that she had attempted to introduce a new definition of science which would include supernatural causation (I blogged on this here). Martin was quite open about the religious basis for her campaign:

Well, you know, our national motto is “In God we trust”. It’s on all of our coins, and our money. So, you know, it’s not exactly a separation of church and state unless somebody makes a big fuss about it or something.

Martin takes Curran to see some of her colleagues, who boast about how they get around restrictions on religion in American classrooms (20:00):

We’ve ways of getting around it. We could get around it by saying, “My opinion is…” So we can get around it by making sure the kids understand this is our personal opinion, not something which we teach as authority figures.

Preceding the Martin segment there’s an encounter (at 16:00) with Pastor Wilbur Schoneweis of Emmanuel Independent Baptist Church. Schoneweis, who enjoys the use of glasses and a hearing-aid, rails against science:

Secularism has come into education. It’s removed the public education system from that philosophy that the Bible has the answers, and it has developed the idea that man has the answers, science has the answers, and to me that’s chaos, let’s go back to the Scriptures.

Schoneweis claims, predictably, that evolutionary theory leads to homosexuality, abortion, and “New Age worship of the earth”, while the Bible supports “family values, value of human life”, etc.