And so another week has passed. Each week I cast my eyes over the religious landscape to see if anything weird catches my eye. It is of course wholly subjective, and yet for most, also truly bizarre stuff.
So did anything catch my eye?
Nope, it has been a very dull week, and nothing of any interest happened …. er actually no. As usual a stream of weird things did indeed pop up.
A special hat tip goes to Right Wing Watch for being an amazing source of some truly bizarre nutters. Two of this week’s three items come via them.
Item 1 – Pat Robertson: There’s a “Demonic” Component to Multiple Sclerosis and Jesus Is Part of the Cure
Yes, it is Pat Robertson once again. Each and every week this guy is more or less guaranteed to come out with something utterly bizarre.
You might think that in the 21st century the belief this illness is a symptom of demonic possession would have been long ago discarded, and would now be universally regarded as a silly superstitious belief.
Alas, apparently not …
a viewer with multiple sclerosis (MS) told host Pat Robertson that she feels “abandoned by God” because she frequently watches his show in hopes of being healed during his faith healing segments but so far has seen no results, leading her to ask “is healing not for everyone?”
Robertson replied that healing is in fact for everyone and that he has personally witnessed and been involved in miraculous healings of MS.
“I know this sounds strange but I do believe there is a spiritual component in MS, it’s like a demonic – it’s one of those things that you literally have to cast out,” he said. “I have seen people with MS get up out of a wheelchair and push the wheelchair out of the room where we were. I’ve seen it. I’ve been involved in it.”
While he did tell the viewer to “check with an endocrinologist to see if there’s something, some chemical or something that could be done that would build up that immune system that you’ve got or if it’s something that you’re eating that’s causing a problem,” Robertson assured her that “you need in the name of Jesus to rebuke that thing and to say to your body, ‘You will be whole!’”
For the record, the number of people cured of MS by Jesus and Prayer is exactly zero. Anybody claiming otherwise is lying to you. When challenged and asked to produce just one example along with medical records, none turn up … ever.
As for his diagnosis, that MS is really demons, his evidence for that claim is nothing at all. Desperately ill people are being given a false hope.
Item 2 – Sheikh Ayman Al-Anqari: The penalty for Apostasy is Death
A video of Saudi cleric has popped up. He actually said this a few weeks ago, but it qualifies for the past 7 days criteria because the YouTube clip spotlighting him was posted during this past week.
Saudi Cleric Advocates Offensive Jihad and Death for Apostasy: Liberalism and Coexistence Null and Void
Saudi cleric Sheikh Ayman Al-Anqari cited various hadiths in support of his claims that “coexistence in the sense of freedom of religion… is null and void” and that there are two kinds of Jihad: offensive Jihad and defensive Jihad. The punishment for apostasy, he said, “is one of the greatest punishments in Islam.” Al-Anqari’s lesson aired on the Saudi Al-Ahwaz TV channel on February 16.
I should perhaps qualify things a bit. He is a Wahhabi cleric. This is the dominant variation of Islamic belief in Saudi Arabia, and is also, if I may be blunt, a faction that about 99% of the rest of the Islamic world would consider to be utterly insane. This variation was founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab in the 1700’s and is so extreme and weird, that even his own father and brother vigorously disagreed with everything he advocated at the time.
Today, the public face of Wahhabism consists of clerics such as Sheikh Ayman Al-Anqari suggesting that anybody who dares to simply not believe should be murdered. The phrase used is apostasy. This is a term deployed by such clerics to describe somebody who quits and becomes ex-muslim.
If indeed your only argument is intimidation, fear, and threats, then you are confirming that you don’t actually have a reasonable or rational argument at all.
Item 3 – Pastor Lance Wallnau calls media “Fake News” for accurately reporting the utterly daft things he said
It was tempting to put Pastor Lance Wallnau in my top 3 last week, but he did not quite make the cut.
So the background is this. Wallnau streamed an anecdote on Periscope in which he recounts the rather weird claim that a gay man was transformed by eating a specially anointed cake (magic apparently). Right Wing Watch then picked that up and published it for everybody to laugh at the pure absurdity of it all …
While streaming a video over Periscope last weekend, right-wing pastor Lance Wallnau received a message from a viewer saying that she needed prayers that would help deliver her son from homosexuality. That message prompted Wallnau to recall an incident he heard about recently in which a gay bar owner was supposedly delivered from his life of sin after eating a cake which had been prepared and prayed over by Christians.
As Wallnau told it, there were some “hookers” who used to hang out at a bar who were saved by a fellow patron who had found Christianity. Together, Wallnau said, these individuals “baked a cake for the owner of the bar, who was gay and very adamantly anti-Christian” and prayed over it that he would leave homosexuality.
“It was an anointed cake,” Wallnau said, “and they made the cake and gave it as a gift. And when he ate the cake … the power of God hit him.”
The “presence of God” fell upon the bar owner, Wallnau recounted, and he then got baptized, at which point “the spirit that was working him got broken off,” thus freeing him from his life of homosexuality.
Its a truly daft story. If you actually wonder if it is true, then let me give you a hint – magic cakes don’t exist, and yet he not only believes this is a fact, he announces to the world that it is a fact.
Where is this bar, and who was this guy, can he name names or places? He can’t, and so all I can do is to perhaps welcome you to the world of urban legends.
OK, so that is all background. What earns his a spot in the top three list this week is what happens next.
After all the media attention last week, he gets back online this week and proceeds to rant about everybody laughing at his previous week’s bizarre claim, by claiming that he was misquoted by the media and did not say that a gay guy had been transformed by a magic cake, hence the reports of people quoting his magic cake claim were “Fake News”.
Despite the fact that it was Wallnau who got the story wrong and that the media was simply reporting what he had originally said, Wallnau is now bizarrely claiming that he was misquoted.
“So you see, they were not quoting me correctly in The Huffington Puffington Post,” Wallnau declared, “because the guy didn’t get delivered … Ex-gay guy ends up getting delivered by water baptism, not by the cake. This is what the liberals do, they always misquote you. Get it straight!”
“They got hung up on the cake,” he stated, “which was actually [the owner], not a homosexual. Once again, fake news from The Huffington Puffington Post and the Dallas News and one thousand Twitter feeds!”
OK, so now you see why I filled in a bit of the background here. You can go check out the previous story and verify that he did indeed claim that a magic cake had transformed a gay man’s life.
If you find yourself in a hole then it is perhaps time to seriously stop digging. Instead he now has people laughing at him, not just for one week, but two.