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Celebrity atheist Richard Dawkins had a spirited encounter on BBC Radio with the Rev. Giles Fraser, former canon chancellor of London’s famous St. Paul’s Cathedral. According to the National Post (Feb. 17), the men discussed a new poll, conducted for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, which found that at least half of Brits who identify as Christians don’t actually go to church or read the Bible. The highlight came when Fraser, in his defense of those claiming a Christian identity, challenged evolutionist Dawkins on his lack of Darwinian trivia knowledge. “What is the full title of The Origin of Species?” Fraser asked. Dawkins replied, “On the Origin of Species…. Uh. With, oh God. On the Origin of Species. There is a subtitle with respect to the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life.” Fraser volleyed, “You’re the high pope of Darwinism…. If you asked people who believed in evolution that question and you came back and said 2% got it right, it would be terribly easy for me to go ‘they don’t believe it after all.’ It’s just not fair to ask people these questions. They self-identify as Christians and I think you should respect that.”
St. Dorothea’s Church in New Jersey has offered drive-through Ash Wednesday services for two years now, reports Asbury Park Press (Feb. 22). Fr. Charles Schwartz draws a cross on the driver’s forehead, while a volunteer does the same for anyone on the passenger side. The vehicle occupants are then given a pamphlet containing a Gospel reading, a reflection, and a prayer. “We had about 200 people last year,” Fr. Schwartz said, and this year looked to be even more successful. The “outdoor service” was only one of six the church held; the other five Ash Wednesday services were held inside the church. Fr. Schwartz said he started the practice for parishioners who were too busy or ill to come to church. One partaker noted, “I like Father’s courageousness and inventiveness.”
After Michael Bell Jr. of Miami came home with three failing grades on his report card, his father forced him to stand on a street corner wearing a sandwich board displaying his bad grades. The middle-schooler paced on the street corner with a sign that read, on front, “Hey, I want to be a class clown. Is it wrong?” and on back, “I’m in the 7th grade and got 3 F’s. Blow your horn if there’s something wrong with that.” Speaking to local media, Michael Jr. said, “I got an F in most of my classes; so as a punishment I’m supposed to stay here for the whole spring break.” He said he wants to do better when he heads back to school. His father called the discipline method a “last resort.” He added, “If I don’t do anything, he’s going to be a statistic and I don’t want him to be a statistic” (The Telegraph, Mar. 12).
A county corrections officer in Washington state was put on unpaid leave earlier this year after prosecutors charged him with bigamy (The News Tribune, Mar. 8). Alan O’Neill, previously known as Alan Fulk, married his first wife in 2001. He moved out eight years later, but neither he nor his lawfully wedded wife filed for divorce. Last December Fulk petitioned to change his last name to O’Neill, and then married his second wife. Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said Wife No. 1 found out about Wife No. 2 when Facebook auto-recommended that she “friend” the other woman because of their mutual connection to O’Neill. Wife No. 2’s profile photo showed her and the happy groom standing next to a wedding cake. Wife No. 1 proceeded to call her estranged husband’s mother, allegedly got him to admit out loud that they “are still married,” and then alerted authorities. “It’s not the crime of the century,” Lindquist said, “but it is a crime.”
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