Possession & Exorcism In The Christian West

April 12th, 2013

book_exorcism_in_the_christian_west Demonic possession and exorcism can sound awfully medieval.  But their heyday, says Tom Ashbrook’s guest on ‘On Point’, was in the same age as Sir Isaac Newton and the dawn of the Age of Reason.  On the one hand, science.  On the other, frothing seizures and shouting out the devil.

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The second heyday of possession and exorcism, says scholar Brian Levack?  Well, our time.  Maybe or maybe not on your block.  But it’s back.  It’s out there.  It’s ritual reenactment, says Levack.  But of what?  And why?

Listen to Tom Ashbrook’s interview with history’s exorcism guru, Brian Levack.


Source: OnPoint.WBUR.org

Woman Finds Cheesy Sign From God (A Little Fishy)

April 8th, 2013

jesus_fish_cracker

It’s a fishy story, but the woman telling it believes it’s pure gold. The Florida resident says the markings she found on a Goldfish cracker are a direct message affirming her Christian faith.

“I believe that it’s a sign, a sign from God,” Patti Burke told Florida Today. “He is still in our life every day, and he wants to show that to his people.”

It’s not quite manna, but in Burke’s eyes it’s a manifestation of her faith.

The cracker in question has two markings, or imperfections, on its surface. Burke says the first marking is of a cross with a circle around it. The second marking, near the head of the fish, represents a golden crown.

“When I picked this one up, I knew he was special,” she said. “Something I’ve never seen before out of all the Goldfish I’ve eaten.”

Burke admittedly has been working from a large sample size, consuming between two and three pounds of the crackers per week. She says she eats the small crackers individually, examining each one for the optimal amount of savory coating.

Burke now carries her special cracker in an earring box padded with gauze. But she wasn’t immediately convinced it was a sign from God. At first, she thought maybe she had won a special promotion from cracker manufacturer Pepperidge Farm.

“They called me back and said there’s no way this could have been printed like that in the factory,” Burke told Florida Today. “They said it sounds like something miraculous happened and we don’t know how it happened.”

(That comment has not been confirmed by Pepperidge Farm.)

No one can say exactly when people started seeing notable figures in their food, but it’s a phenomenon that has made headlines in the modern era. Last year, a Nebraska woman sold a Chicken McNugget on eBay for $8,100 after becoming convinced it contained the visage of George Washington.

After becoming convinced that the cracker in fact possessed a deeper, spiritual message, Burke brought her sign of faith to her pastor, D. Scott Worth.

“I think it’s a sign,” Worth told WKMG. “I think it points to, I would hesitate to call it a miracle, but I think it points to the miracle, which is Jesus Christ defeated death. And that’s what Easter is all about.”

Of course, not every piece of food contains divine inspiration. Just pray you don’t end up with a toaster possessed by the Devil.

Source: Yahoo News

Anesthesia Mishap Delivers Woman To God

April 6th, 2013

FYI: What Causes Near-Death Experiences?

Newsweek slid head-first into controversy for its cover story in October. In “Heaven Is Real: A Doctor’s Experience With the Afterlife,” neurosurgeon Dr. Eben Alexander writes about falling into a coma, then having an experience that convinces him Heaven exists. He describes being in “a place of clouds” and seeing “shimmering beings”; a woman traveling with him offers him a message of hope and love. It’s one of the more public examples of a documented near-death experience, but it’s not anywhere close to the first: a Gallup poll approximated that 3 percent of Americans have reported one.

Some of the most common elements of a near-death experience include a feeling of peace or euphoria; a strange, nebulous feeling that they were “floating around the room” or having an out-of-body experience; seeing a tunnel with light at the end; or seeing family members or otherworldly phenomenon. But it’s also very difficult to measure or observe scientifically, despite being such a common and varied phenomenon, so it’s very hard to account for everything that happens during one.

There’s no consensus about what causes near-death experiences (or NDEs, as they’re sometimes known). Partially, that’s because it’s a vague, catch-all term. How “near” to death are we talking here? Near death for how long? Even the word “death” itself is kind of hard to pin down, especially when we’re bringing more people back from it than ever before. (The closest we’ve gotten to a reasonable definition is probably “no detectable vital signs that show the person to be living at all, physiologically or mentally,” but that’s been defined and redefined many times in the past.)

The NDE was first defined by psychologist and medical doctor Raymond Moody in 1975 as a feeling of epiphany in a person who would have died without medical attention. That’s still a little vague, since people can actually have near-death experiences without being in any real danger of dying–it’s been shown that simply the fear of it is enough. Later, Bruce Grayson’s NDE scale tried to gauge the effect: It asks a series of questions about what the person felt and experienced during the event to determine the overall effect. That’s one of the biggest hurdles to overcome when trying to scientifically examine NDEs–we’re pretty much restricted to interviews of those who have experienced them.

Dr. Sam Parnia, a scientist and physician at Stony Brook University School of Medicine who’s studied NDEs, and author of the forthcoming Erasing Death: The Science That Is Rewiring the Boundaries Between Life and Death, says he prefers to study a completely different phenomenon: instead of near-death experiences, actual-death experiences.

Parnia looks at patients who have gone through cardiac arrest–symptomatically and objectively, there is no “measurable evidence” that can be used to show the person is alive–and are later resuscitated. Parnia’s team, in an ongoing experiment, set up special shelving in rooms in which people are resuscitated, holding randomly generated pictures on the ceiling at an angle that require an out of body experience–the person would have to be separate from the corporeal body to see the images. After patients are resuscitated, Parnia’s team surveys them on what they saw. We don’t have conclusions yet, but it’s a good example of the kind of awkward ways that we have to test such a nebulous, difficult-to-measure event.

But at this point, Parnia’s not completely satisfied with any of the most-noted explanations for NDEs. We only have a few parts of the story–the symptoms, almost, rather than the actual cause. True, he says, almost every individual element of an NDE can be explained with chemical or physical reactions we understand, but those single explanations don’t tell us why the phenomenon happens in the first place. Take euphoria, for example: “All sorts of things could lead to the feeling of happiness,” he says, but it’s difficult to pin down with certainty what the chemical process is that’s causing it. There’s probably, he says, some fundamental trigger we haven’t yet discovered that’s the root cause of an NDE.

Dr. Kevin Nelson, a researcher who’s studied near-death experiences extensively, and authored The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain, mostly agrees with Parnia, but seems less concerned about finding a root cause of NDEs–he’s pretty comfortable with all those individual explanations for the individual experiences that make up the category of NDE. He does say that some of these multitude of factors can be said to matter more than others, even if we don’t know all of the contributors that cause the total phenomenon. So what are those factors?

LOSS OF BLOOD FLOW

“One of the most common causes of near-death experiences is fainting,” Nelson says. This makes it a good example of when near-death experiences can happen when the person experiencing the NDE is in fact nowhere near death. Researchers have shown that a loss of oxygen flow to the eye will cause tunnel vision. Oxygen deprivation–and even just a sense of fear–can cause the oxygen to stop flowing, and both of those are symptomatic of dying. In Nelson’s research, simply fainting was enough to cause several of the effects related to near-death experiences, like a feeling of being out of your own body, or a sense of euphoria.

CHEMICALS RELEASED

A surge of steroids, epinephrine, and adrenaline are released in the body during situations where it’s near death, Parnia points out. It could explain the feeling of euphoria, and some of the stranger, hallucinatory effects. It’s been suggested that Ketamine, which is released when animals are under attack, could produce similar effects. One of the first theories on near-death experiences, in fact, was that the psychedelic Dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, was released in the brain as soon as it realized it was dying, but that’s somewhat speculative: The only way to really test something like that, Nelson says, is to give someone the drug and compare its effects to near-death experiences. Chemicals could very well be be a factor; it’s just not an easily proven one, compared to, say, fainting and blood loss.

IT’S A FORM OF REM SLEEP

REM sleep is the type of sleep most closely associated with dreams. Nelson has proposed that, close to death, we enter a type of REM sleep. Put simply, he says, the brain is still functioning enough to realize that it’s in danger, despite being asleep. That creates a sort of sleep-state that’s spiked with a fight-or-flight response: a form of lucid dreaming, where we’re still aware of the situation but are not completely conscious. The sensation of floating around yourself–an out-of-body experience–is consistent with lucid dreamers.

MEMORY IS TRIGGERED

This is only one symptom of near-death experiences, but it’s a common one: People report experiencing memories of loved ones or other moments from their past. Research has shown, Nelson says, that our sense of memory kicks in during threatening situations, like being near death. In the more lizard-y parts of our brains, Nelson says, long-term memory and fight or flight are connected, which might be part of the reason people say they remember near-death events so vividly. That phenomenon of near-death experiences might be related, causing the my-life-flashed-before-my-eyes effect or other memories cropping up.

In short: There’s not exactly a consensus on what causes them, but the most common effects associated with near-death experiences have been reproduced in some way, and solutions have been offered to their most fundamental causes. But whatever the cause, people coming out of them can feel profoundly changed, even if they don’t wind up on the cover of Newsweek.

Sources: io9Scientific American, Popsci]

Pope Francis Collaborated With Argentina’s Brutal Military Dictatorship

March 31st, 2013
pope_francis
As Pope Francis takes his place as the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, his participation in Argentina’s US-backed ‘Dirty War’ is sure to come under increased scrutiny.

From 1976 until 1983, Argentina was governed by a series of US-backed military dictators who ruled with iron fists and crushed the regime’s opponents, many of them students, trade unionists, journalists and leftists. Kidnapping, torture, murder by death squads and disappearances characterized this brutal ‘Dirty War,’ and many of the leading perpetrators, including two junta leaders and the military dictator Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri, were trained by the United States in kidnapping, torture, assassination and democracy suppression at the School of the Americas in Panama. As many as 30,000 people were killed or disappeared during this horrific period, and many children and babies were stolen from parents imprisoned in concentration camps or murdered by the regime.

During this harrowing period, the Argentine Catholic church was shamefully silent in the face of horrific atrocities. Argentine priests offered communion and support to the perpetrators of these crimes, even after the execution of two bishops, including Enrique Angelelli, and numerous priests. Worse, leading church figures were complicit in the regime’s abuses. One priest, Father Christian von Wernich, was a former police chaplain later sentenced to life in prison for involvement in seven murders, 42 kidnappings and 31 cases of torture during the ‘Dirty War.’ At his trial, witnesses testified how the priest used his position to gain their trust before passing information to police, who tortured victims– sometimes in von Wernich’s presence– and sometimes killed them.

Senior military commanders who justified the regime’s appalling practice of dumping drugged and tortured ‘Dirty War’ prisoners into the sea from airplanes, known as ’death flights,’ told participants that the Church sanctioned the missions as “a Christian form of death.”

“We have much to be sorry for,” Father Ruben Captianio told the New York Times in 2007. “The attitude of the Church was scandalously close to the dictatorship to such an extent that I would say it was of a sinful degree.”

So exactly what role did Jorge Bergoglio play in his country’s brutal seven-year military dictatorship?

A 1995 lawsuit filed by a human rights lawyer alleges that Bergoglio, who was leading the local Jesuit community by the time the military junta seized power in 1976, was involved in the kidnapping of two of his fellow Jesuit priests, Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics, who were tortured by navy personnel before being dumped in a field, drugged and semi-naked, five months later.

At the time, Bergoglio was the superior in the Society of Jesus of Argentina. According to El Silencio (Silence), a book by Horacio Verbitsky, one of Argentina’s most respected investigative journalists, Bergoglio urged the two priests, who were strong believers in liberation theology, to stop visiting Buenos Aires slums where they worked to improve the lives of some of the country’s poorest people. After the priests refused, Bergoglio allegedly stopped protecting them, leading to their arrest and torture. According to the Associated Press, Yorio accused Bergoglio of “effectively handing [the priests] over to death squads.”

Despite his alleged role in the Jesuits’ imprisonment, Bergoglio did eventually take action to secure their release. His intervention and appeal to the vicious junta leader Jorge Videla quite likely saved their lives.

But that wasn’t the only time Bergoglio allegedly cooperated with the regime. According to Verbitsky, he also hid political prisoners from a delegation of visiting international monitors from the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.

Bergoglio was also silent in the wake of Father Angelelli’s assassination, even as other leading Argentine clergy condemned the murder. He was quick, however, to hail the slain priest as a “martyr” years later in more democratic times.

“History condemns him,” Fortunato Mallimacci, a former dean at the University of Buenos Aires, once said of Bergoglio. “It shows him to be opposed to all innovation in the church and above all, during the dictatorship, it shows he was very cozy with the dictatorship.”

Human rights attorney Myriam Bregman told the AP that “the dictatorship could not have operated [so brutally] without this key support.”

Bergoglio is also a proven liar when it comes to his personal knowledge of the regime’s atrocities. In 1977, the De le Cuadra family, which lost five members, including a pregnant woman, to state security forces, appealed to the Jesuit leadership in Rome for desperately-needed protection. According to the Associated Press, the Jesuits in turn urged Bergoglio to help the family. Bergoglio assigned an underling to the case, who returned with a note from a colonel stating that the slain woman, who like many other ‘Dirty War’ victims was kept alive just long enough so that she could give birth, had her baby given to a family “too important” to remove it from. The colonel’s letter is written proof that Bergoglio knew about the regime’s practice of stealing babies from its victims, yet the archbishop testified in 2010 that he had no knowledge of stolen babies until after the military regime fell.

“Bergoglio has a very cowardly attitude when it comes to something so terrible as the theft of babies,” Estela de la Cuadra, daughter of Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo founder Alicia de la Cuadra, told the AP.

Under Bergoglio’s later leadership as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the church apologized for its abject failure to protect its flock. But he also refused to appear in open court to answer questions about his role in the ‘Dirty War’ oppression– twice, and when he finally did appear in 2010, his answers– some of which, like the denial of knowledge of stolen babies– left many human rights advocates extremely dissatisfied.

“He doesn’t face this reality and it doesn’t bother him,” de la Cuadra said. “The question is how to save his name, save himself. But he can’t keep these allegations from reaching the public. The people know how he is.”

Source: Digital Journal

Study: Mother Teresa’s Greatest Accomplishment Was The Glorification Of Suffering

March 2nd, 2013

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A study conducted by Canadian researchers has called Mother Teresa ”anything but a saint”, a creation of an orchestrated and effective media campaign who was generous with her prayers but miserly with her foundation’s millions when it came to humanity’s suffering.

The controversial study, to be published this month in the journal of studies in religion/sciences called Religieuses, says that Teresa — known across the world as the apostle of the dying and the downtrodden — actually felt it was beautiful to see the poor suffer.

According to the study, the Vatican overlookedthe crucial human side of Teresa — her dubious way of caring for the sick by glorifying their suffering instead of relieving it.

Instead, the Vatican went ahead with her beatification followed by canonization “to revitalize the Church and inspire the faithful especially at a time when churches are empty and the Roman authority is in decline”.

Researchers Serge Larivee and Genevieve Chenard from the University of Montreal’s department of psychoeducation, and Carole Senechal of the University of Ottawa’s faculty of education, analysed published writings about Mother Teresa and concluded that her hallowed image, “which does not stand up to analysis of the facts, was constructed, and that her beatification was orchestrated by an effective media campaign”.

According to Larivee, facts debunk Teresa’s myth. He says that the Vatican, before deciding on Teresa’s beatification, did not take into account “her rather dubious way of caring for the sick, her questionable political contacts, her suspicious management of the enormous sums of money she received, and her overly dogmatic views regarding … abortion, contraception, and divorce.”

At the time of her death, Teresa had 517 missions or “homes for the dying” as described by doctors visiting several of these establishments in Kolkata. They welcomed the poor and sick in more than 100 countries. Two-thirds of the people coming to these missions hoped to a find a doctor to treat them, while the other third lay dying without receiving apt care.

‘Miracle of medicine’

According to the study, the doctors observed a significant lack of hygiene, even unfit conditions and a shortage of actual care, food and painkillers. They say that the problem was not a paucity of funds as the Order of the Missionaries of Charity successfully raised hundreds of millions of dollars. Researchers said that when it came to her own treatment, “she received it in a modern American hospital”.

The three researchers also dug into records of her meeting in London in 1968 with the BBC’s Malcom Muggeridge who had strong views against abortion and shared Mother Teresa’s right-wing Catholic values.

The researchers say Muggeridge had decided to promote Teresa. In 1969, he made a eulogistic film on the missionary, promoting her by attributing to her the “first photographic miracle”, when it should have been attributed to the new film stock being marketed by Kodak.

Following her death, the Vatican decided to waive the usual five-year waiting period to open the beatification process. According to the researchers, one of the miracles attributed to Mother Theresa is the healing of Monica Besra, who suffered from intense abdominal pain, after a medallion blessed by her was placed on Besra’s abdomen.

Larivee said, “Her doctors thought otherwise: the ovarian cyst and the tuberculosis from which she suffered were healed by the drugs they had given her. The Vatican, nevertheless, concluded that it was a miracle. Mother Teresa’s popularity was such that she had become untouchable for the population, which had already declared her a saint.”

Larivee however signs off on a surprisingly positive note and says there could also be a positive effect of the Mother Teresa myth. “If the extraordinary image of Mother Teresa conveyed in the collective imagination has encouraged humanitarian initiatives that are genuinely engaged with those crushed by poverty, we can only rejoice,” they signed off.

Source: Times of India

Watch: Christopher Hitchens defrock Mother Teresa on Penn & Teller’s Bullshit

Cross-Dressing Priest Busted For Meth Peddling

January 18th, 2013

A former Catholic priest at Bridgeport’s St. Augustine Cathedral who was recently busted in a nationwide crystal meth ring also liked cross dressing, “bizarre sex toys” and having sex in his rectory with “odd-looking men,” a report said on Thursday.

According to a Wednesday statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Monsignor Kevin Wallin and four other men were indicted in an alleged drug operation that involved sending shipments of methamphetamine from California for sale in Connecticut. Wallin was arrested on January 3 after he allegedly tried to sell drugs to an undercover agent and methamphetamines, drug paraphernalia and drug packaging materials were found in his home.

The indictment said 61-year-old Wallin had sold as much as $9,000 of meth per week.

Diocese Spokesman Brian Wallace told the Connecticut Post that officials began receiving complaints about Wallin’s appearance and erratic behavior in the spring of 2011.

“We approached him and he admitted he was struggling a bit and shortly after that he resigned (July 2011) and the bishop granted him a sabbatical,” Wallace recalled, adding that the priest was later suspended after he failed to show up for follow-up examinations.

“While pastor of St. Augustine’s, sources said he often disappeared for days at a time; and rectory personnel became concerned and notified diocese officials when Wallin, sometimes dressed as a woman, would entertain odd-looking men, some who were also dressed in women’s clothing and engaging in sex acts,” the Connecticut Post reported.

The report said that diocese officials also “found bizarre sex toys in Wallin’s residence.”

After leaving the priesthood, Wallin purchased a North Haven adult film store call Land of Oz. The business, which sold X-rated videos and sex toys, may have been used to launder drug money, investigators said. A September Facebook post said that Land of Oz was holding a “going out of business sale” and “everything must go.”

The former priest faces a maximum of 20 years in jail and up to $6 million in fines.

Source:  Raw Story

Siberian Jesus Hopes To Unite All World Religions

January 10th, 2013

One time traffic cop, Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop is known by his followers as Vissarion. He claims that, after having experienced a mystical revelation in May 1990, when he was 29, his word became the word of God.  He first spoke publicly in Minusinsk on 18 August 1991. He founded the “Church of the Last Testament”, also known as “Community of Unified Faith”.  He has around 4,000 Vissarionite followers in around thirty villages in the immediate vicinity of his base in the Siberian Taiga.

Vissarion claims to be a reincarnation of Jesus. He teaches reincarnation, veganism, and the impending end of the world, or at least of civilization as we know it.

The Third Most Popular ‘Religion’ Is Now Nonbelief

December 27th, 2012

A new report on global religious identity shows that while Christians and Muslims make up the two largest groups, those with no religious affiliation — including atheists and agnostics — are now the third-largest “religious” group in the world.

The study, released Tuesday (Dec. 18) by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, found that more than eight in 10 (84 percent) of the world’s 7 billion people adheres to some form of religion. Christians make up the largest group, with 2.2 billion adherents, or 32 percent worldwide, followed by Muslims, with 1.6 billion adherents, or 23 percent worldwide.

Close behind are the “nones” — those who say they have no religious affiliation or say they do not believe in God — at 1. 1 billion, or 16 percent. That means that about the same number of people who identify as Catholics worldwide say they have no religion.

“One out of six people does not have a religious identity,” said Conrad Hackett, a primary researcher and demographer on the study. “But it is also striking that that overwhelming majority of the world does have some type of religious identity. So I think people will be surprised by either way of looking at it.”

The next largest groups, the report finds, are Hindus (1 billion people, or 15 percent), Buddhists (500 million people, or 7 percent) and Jews (14 million people, or 0.2 percent). More than 400 million people — 6 percent — practice folk traditions from African, Chinese, Native American or Australian aboriginal cultures.

An additional 58 million people — slightly less than 1 percent of the global population — belong to “other” religions, such as the Baha’i faith, Jainism, Sikhism, Shintoism, Taoism, Tenrikyo, Wicca and Zoroastrianism.

In addition to the numbers of adherents, the study also looks at where they live. Christians are the most evenly distributed, while Jews are fairly evenly divided between North America and the Middle East. The United States has the highest number of Christians of any nation, at more than 243 million, or 78 percent of the total U.S. population.

Meanwhile, the majority of the world’s religiously unaffiliated — 76 percent — live in the Asia-Pacific region, with 700 million in China alone, where religion was stifled during the Cultural Revolution.

The report found nearly 51 million religiously unaffiliated Americans, or about 16.4 percent of the U.S. population. That number is smaller than the 19 percent of Americans Pew reported earlier this year. Researchers attribute this discrepancy to the fact that their 2012 report was based on information from adults only, and the newest report includes the religious adherence of children, which tends to be higher than that of adults.

And while the number of the religiously unaffiliated is high, researchers are careful to point out that they are by no means homogeneous.

Surveys considered in this report show that 7 percent of unaffiliated Chinese report a belief in God or some other high power, while that number among the unaffiliated French is 30 percent, and among Americans it climbs to 68 percent. In China, 44 percent of unaffiliated adults say they have worshiped at a graveside or tomb in the past year.

The report covers 230 countries and is drawn from more than 2,500 censuses, surveys and population records accrued through 2010. It marks the first attempt to pin down a global religious landscape using such records, Hackett said.

Other findings include:

— About three-quarters (73 percent) of the world’s people live in countries where their religion is in the majority, mostly Christians and Hindus.

— The religiously unaffiliated are in the majority in six nations: China, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hong Kong, Japan and North Korea.

— The unaffiliated, Buddhists and Jews have the highest median age (34, 34 and 36 respectively) while Muslims, Hindus and Christians have the lowest (23, 26 and 30 respectively). Median age is a predictor of how religious groups will grow, as those with a younger age have more women of child-bearing age.

Ryan Cragun, a religion sociologist at the University of Tampa who studies the nonreligious, said the numbers on the unaffiliated are not surprising. But he cautions that surveys that rely on secondary data, such as censuses, and self-reporting often over calculates some groups, such as Christians.

“The real question is whether or not the nonreligious are outpacing the religious when it comes to growth,” he said.

That and other issues, such as migration, age range and mortality will be covered in future reports, Pew researchers said. A more in-depth report on the religiously unaffiliated is planned for 2013.

Source: Washington Post

Why People Have A Problem With Religion?

December 3rd, 2012

Click on the image to see it full size in a new window.

Pastafarians Demand Right To Equivalent Holiday Display

November 29th, 2012

Pastafarians on Wednesday urged Chester County commissioners in Pennsylvania to include the Flying Spaghetti Monster in the holiday display at the county’s courthouse.

“Good morning commissioners, it is my honor to address you today,” Evangelical Pastafarian Tracy McPherson told the commissioners at a meeting. “Last December as I drove through West Chester, I was pleased to see holiday displays in front of the courthouse. Prominently displayed were the Jewish menorah and the Christian nativity display depicting the birth of Christ. These symbols represent the meaning of the holiday season for two religious communities in our area. I could not help but feel that the display was incomplete, as there was no acknowledgement of my religion present.”

The quasi-religion and its pasta-deity were spawned in 2005, when Bobby Henderson mocked the Kansas Board of Education in an open letter for allowing the teaching of Intelligent Design, a variation of creationism, in public schools. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has since grown into a full-blown movement, boasting millions of members.

“As a Pastafarian, I believe the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the world and all that is in it,” McPherson explained to the commissioners. “He holds us all to the ground with his noodly appendages and that explains why we do not float away.”

The Evangelical Pastafarians would like to see their pasta-decorated pine tree placed alongside the Jewish and Christian displays. Despite its satirical appearance, McPherson insisted her devotion to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was serious.

The Chester County commissioners voted in 2010 to prohibit privately-owned displays at the courthouse. The current holiday display is owned by the county, and includes both secular and religious elements. The commissioners will consider voting to change the policy on Thursday, according to the Daily Local News.

Previously, the Freethought Society, the Pennsylvania Pastors Network, the Chabad of Chester County, and the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce had all set up displays during the Christmas season. But the Freethought Society’s display in particular provoked controversy due to its alleged hostility towards religion.

Source: Raw Story

**UPDATE - ’Pastafarian Noodle Tree’ Denied Spot in Holiday Display at Pa. Courthouse