Top 3 Weekly Weird Religious News Items

So who or what has popped up this week?

Item 1 – Gulf Winds: Fires employee for not being a religious nut

This item has emerged because a Ms Dee Anne Thomson has sued her former employer, Gulf Winds International, and so all the details are available within publicly available documents that have been filed with the court in Harris County, Texas.

You can find the Plaintiff’s petition here that was filed on 18th April

The Courthouse news service also picked it up and wrote about it.

What Happened?

So here is how this saga played out …

Thomson, a 52-year-old mother of five daughters, was transferred to a different facility, demoted and eventually fired after she voiced opposition to the company’s overtly religious practices, according to her lawsuit filed Tuesday in Harris County District Court.

…Employees, including Thomson, were consistently told to “think and pray” on daily work and personal decisions, she says.

Gulf Winds’ executives and managers also held meetings for C12, “an organization that holds itself out as America’s leading Christian CEO forum and a cutting edge Christian business leadership grounded in timeless Biblical wisdom,” according to the complaint. Thomson claims upper management conducted these meetings during business hours.

According to the lawsuit, Gulf Winds stopped doing business with a supply vendor after they failed to attend C12 meetings.

In addition to the C12 meetings, Gulf Winds allegedly published religious booklets with the company letterhead and expected employees to distribute the literature throughout its facilities.

Thomson says she told the company president that employees reporting to her said they were not comfortable being forced to distribute the religious books to drivers.

The president then took Thomson out to lunch to tell her that “she was not Christian enough and that she needed to examine her walk with Jesus,” according to the complaint.

Weeks later, Gulf Winds decided to move Thomson to a different facility and replace her with a younger manager “with no experience in her area,” she claims. The company allegedly told Thomson that “they were giving her grace from God and that grace would come back to them, as that is how God works.”

Thomson says she was then fired within weeks of her demotion.

Remember that this was not a religious group, but a logistics company.

Is there any basis to her claim?

Probably yes, I note that Todd Stewart the company president says on his about page on the company website …

Todd believes the business is here to serve a greater purpose and holds strongly to the biblical servant leadership model that empowers team members to grow personally, professionally and spiritually. Todd also has the privilege of being an active C12 member. He is passionate about global missions and serves on the board of directors for International Cooperating Ministries as well as MXTV.

Being religious is fine. However, when you view your business as a way to express that belief, and fire employees for not going along with it, then that really does cross a line.

Item 2 –  Discovery Institute: Upset that they could not be a March for Science partner

Yesterday, Saturday 22nd April, was a big day. The March For Science happened and so many many people who are deeply concerned about the attack upon science by the new administration took part. One group called the Discovery Institute wanted to also join in and partner up, but they were rejected.

The name “Discovery Institute” sounds very sciency, so why were they rejected as a partner?

They are in reality a deeply religious conservative right-wing creationist group that strives to promote creationism under the banner of “Science”. They call it “Intelligent Design” and pretend it is not religious.

People organising marches tend to draw lines, and since this is a march for science then they welcome anybody and everybody who is a supporter of the prevailing scientific endeavour. A group such as the Discovery Institute are in reality committed to opposing all that, and so they get a polite “No Thanks”.

Just to be wholly and totally clear here, Intelligent Design is not an alternative scientific hypothesis, but instead is pure pseudoscience. If you formulate a hypothesis that can’t actually be tested or falsified then it is not science. The underlying meta-hypothesis is basically “I have no clue how X could have happened naturally, therefore it was designed”, and that is essentially a religious belief that is untestable. It is not science.

The Discovery Institute are not happy …

“I thought based on the way that they publicly described the mission that there was a way to be a partner group,” said John West, vice president of the Discovery Institute, which represents scientists who believe in intelligent design.

According to West, march organizers said they declined to include the Discovery Institute because the event does not align with groups that hold a viewpoint outside of the current scientific consensus…

Indeed yes. If you are going to try to join a March for Science” then doing so under the banner of “God did it by magic” on behalf of an organisation that has a long track record of opposing the prevailing scientific consensus for religious reasons, then it truly is indeed a rather bizarre thing to do.

What they fail to grasp is that the very reason for the March For Science is the existence of groups such as themselves that oppose the scientific endeavour.

Item 3 – Catholic School makes Yoga acceptable by simply calling it something else

For some religious people the word “Yoga” is a red flag that conjures up images of eastern mysticism and so dire warnings are often issued about it. The word itself encompasses a wide variety of practises and some indeed are mystical and religious, However, as generally practised by most it is just breathing and stretching exercises, and so is just physical exercise.

What do you do if you are a Catholic School such as the Benedictine College in Kansas where Yoga classes are popular, but are also faced with people such as an archbishop or two decreeing that this is evil stuff?

“Yoga as created has some potential for eastern mysticism which has caused concern among members of the Catholic Church,” said Stephen Minnis, president of the college.  “[Archbishop Naumann] has expressed his concerns and the issues surrounding that.”

Easy, you just cancel all Yoga class and run something called “Liftestyle Fitness” …

Starting in fall 2017, the college will be offering a “stretching and breathing” class called “Liftestyle Fitness” in replacement of what is traditionally called yoga

This new Lifestyle Fitness will consists of  … (oh come now, you can see where this is going) … as highlighted above, exactly the same breathing and stretching exercises.

So basically, people were afraid of the word “Yoga” because it triggered some religiously based fear of dark forces, and the solution is to simply carry on doing exactly the same by formally cancelling all Yoga classes and running exactly the same classes as “Liftestyle Fitness”.

A belief that specific words have mystical power sounds weird, but we should perhaps not forget that these are the same folks who believe magic words can quite literally transform wafers into Jesus if they are recited by a male virgin wearing a dress.

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