Archived entries for Religion

The churches of North Haven

The town of North Haven, Maine is a quirky place. There aren’t many places that boast so many churches (3) for such a small population (350) — nor many places where the churches actually change denomination depending on the season.

The tiny year-round community can support just one year-round church, the North Haven Baptist Church. In the summer, a simple clapboard Episcopal church opens its doors on the opposite side of the island, as does a century-old shingle-style Catholic church at the crest of Kent’s Hill on the way into town.

For those two months each year when droves of wealthy Bostonians and New Yorkers descend on the island (and Episcopalians outnumber Baptists by a wide margin) the Episcopalians don’t actually ever move into their own church. In fact, I’m not sure if any of the churches have ever been consecrated. Baptist parishioners head up-island, swapping spaces with the Episcopalians and leaving them to worship in the larger village Baptist church. Twice a year, the faithful join together in a union service at one or other of the churches. The Catholics host Sunday services most weeks during the height of the season.

The shingle-style Catholic Church, which was dusty and mysterious each time we would sneak into as kids, is the only local church that retains its religion all year long (even if it only opens for a few weeks each summer):


A religious town no more

Religious icons dot the city of Montreal — Mark Twain once quipped “This is the first time I was ever in a city where you couldn’t throw a brick without breaking a church window” — but ever since the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s, there’s been a huge drop off in religiosity.

The latest interesting report on this trend comes from Konrad Yakabuski at the Globe and Mail, who explains that these days, Quebec is “neither practising nor believing,” and has become one of the least pious places on the planet.


Protest pics

Scenes from Wednesday night’s electric rally at the Mormon temple on the Upper West Side (pardon the quality; they’re from my BlackBerry).






Join the Mormon protest this Wednesday

Join thousands this Wednesday evening to protest the Mormon church’s involvement in California Proposition 8. The rally will run from 6:30 – 8 p.m. at the LDS Temple near Lincoln Center, at 65th and Columbus.

It’s all very ironic that the once-persecuted have become the persecutors, bankrolling and using massive political clout to strip equal rights from gay and lesbian Californians. As Rocky Anderson, the former Salt Lake City Mayor said this week, “With the L.D.S. church’s vast involvement in the passage of Proposition 8, we are seeing a repeat of a tragic and deplorable history.”

New York state, on the cusp of legalized marriage for same-sex couples, could well be the next target for the church’s fundraising and propaganda machine.

Protesting Utah

Don’t piss off the gays! It seems Utah will be bearing the brunt of California’s vote to ban marriage for same-sex couples. A movement has begun to boycott the state as a result of the LDS Church’s involvement in the California Prop 8 fiasco. On top of that, there is an urging by activists to have the IRS pull the church’s tax-exempt status (one of the requirements of being tax-exempt is not participating in excessive lobbying.)

“The main focus is going to be going after the Utah brand,” John Aravosis, an influential Washington, D.C.-based blogger, told the Associated Press. “We’re going to destroy the Utah brand. It is a hate state.”

Last night thousands took to the streets around Temple Square in Salt Lake to again hold the Mormon Church’s feet to the fire for its involvement. One great sign: “Let’s keep intolerance INSIDE the church.”



Related: Thousands protest in Salt Lake City

Great site

There is a very interesting new web site out protesting the Mormon Church’s involvement in passage of Prop 8 in California. Check it out!


Protesting the LDS Church

The passing of Prop 8 in California has been universally characterized as the worst setback for the equal rights movement in recent memory. Fortunately, the masses are pissed (!) and launching protests everywhere. The main focus: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which encouraged its members to contribute to the campaign, much as it did in the 2000 Prop 22 battle. Donations from Mormons are estimated at anywhere from $15-25 million of the $70 million or so spent on the ballot initiative.

A few photos from last night’s protest in at the Mormon Temple in Los Angeles…including one (immediately below) in which a protestor’s bullhorn just so happens to be oriented precisely like the Angel Moroni’s.


My fav signs:
• When do I get to vote on your marriage?
• Keep Mormon hate out of my state
• Mormons go to hell




Sad times in Vancouver

The controversial public sculpture “Device to Root Out Evil,” has picked up and left its home in cosmopolitan Vancouver for the Glenbow Museum in ho-hum Calgary (“And people keep trying to call Vancouver a world-class city,” a snarky blogger says). It’s hard to say whether the massive piece of art was more controversial with the religious right or the yuppies of Coal Harbour, many of whom decried the sculpture for blocking their views (incredibly difficult to believe). Either way, it’s sad to see it go.


Here we go again

The notorious Christian Civic League of Maine is back at it! They’re now pushing a referendum that would ban marriage for same-sex couples, bar gay couples from adopting, strike sexual orientation protections from the Maine Human Rights Act, and eliminate civil rights teams in the Attorney General’s Office.

Jones on Mitt

All the most unlikely suspects seem to be falling head over heels for my former governor, Mitt Romney. Today Bob Jones (you know, of crazy university fame), said he endorses Mitt. Well, sort of: “What is the alternative,” Jones replied when asked if Romney’s Mormon faith was a concern. “Hillary’s lack of religion or an erroneous religion?”

Spotted in the West Village

Very fitting considering the posers who tend to inhabit certain Manhattan neighbourhoods!


Temple Square

Tonight my friend Kim and I took a post-dinner stroll around Temple Square, the world famous home to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you’ve never seen the Salt Lake Temple (I prefer to call it Cinderella’s Castle) in person, it’s truly a site to behold. The place is at once fascinating, beautiful, eerie, and bizarre.


Watch this!

If you only watch one thing I recommend, let it be this.

Please check out what is probably the most stunning interview that has ever appeared on television news. Julie Banderas from Fox News was talking with Shirley Phelps-Roper of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, when things got out of hand. As the Pen15 Club notes, “You have not lived until you’ve seen one of Rupert Murdoch’s Playmates – I mean, lady anchors – get into a scripture quote war with a straw-haired, Bible-thumping wingnut. And you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven when the wingnut calls the anchor a ‘bimbo.’ It’s like watching an argument between Ann Coulter’s id and superego.”

Communion wafers as the new lo-cal snack

When I was a kid in elementary school, some of my peers used to munch on one of the most bizarre snacks imaginable: unconsecrated communion host, better known as the body of Christ. The starchy, stick-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth nasties are freely available at grocery stores in Quebec and New Brunswick. Host is created by just a couple companies in Canada, with the perfect rounds that end up in churches stamped out of white, flaky sheets. Apparently the trend of communion wafer-noshing has caught now on among a certain segment of health-conscious people.

Gay priest makes appeal on AIDS

An Anglican priest in Vancouver who went public on Friday to say he is dying of AIDS has made an urgent appeal to the Canadian government to approve quick access to an experimental AIDS drug for him and four other men. Rev. Michael Forshaw balks at the government’s claim that he could die from the new AIDS drugs if they were approved at this early stage in their development:

“I’m not afraid to die. I mean, my faith keeps me going in that,” he told The Vancouver Sun. “But if my death is the result of some bureaucratic blunder, I’ll certainly be p-o’d.”

Searching for Jesus?

jesus_on_a_treeIt turns out he is on tree bark in Rochester.

“Call it a cry for peace, a test of faith or a random act of nature, a tree growing on Rochester’s North Clinton Avenue so far has attracted several dozen believers who say they see the image of Jesus Christ on the tree’s trunk.”

“I see it clearly,” said Yomaira Otero of Rochester, who stood in the pouring rain Tuesday with six members of her family to see the tree. She spoke in Spanish to her relatives and pointed out the facial features, including the beard of bark she saw. “He looks like he’s sleeping.”

Doug Mandelaro, a spokesman for Rochester’s Roman Catholic Diocese, said he “wouldn’t dare to comment on someone else’s moment of inspiration or religious experience. Religious experience is and always has been a mystery and very personal.”

Priest comes out, pigs not flying yet

gay_priest_coburgA Roman Catholic priest in Ontario has come out on national television, and is promptly out of work. Coincidence? I think not. “I’m a Roman Catholic priest. And I’m gay,” Rev. Ed Cachia said last week on Vision TV. He is being called the first Canadian priest to come out of the closet.

The Globe and Mail reports, “Father Clemens administers to the homosexual and HIV-AIDS communities in downtown Toronto and lives with a man, a terminal AIDS sufferer, for whom he says he is caring. He also says he has maintained his celibacy, although he says his church superiors have indicated on more than one occasion that they don’t believe him.”

At issue, a church spokesman said, is whether a priest’s statements or lifestyle cause scandal for the church by “sowing confusion in the public’s minds.” The spokesman said priests are held to a different level of moral conduct than laypersons. “Here is this fellow who has retired to the gay subculture, and people are going to wonder why he’s there. Is he reaching out [to the AIDS community] or is it something else? People constantly feel free to speculate about our [priests’] sex lives, and it’s a hard thing for a priest to realize he’s a public person.”

Pastor accused of anti-gay hatred

Alberta pastor Stephen Boisson will face a human rights tribunal in Calgary over accusations that he exposed the gay community to hatred. Three years ago he argued in a local newspaper that gay rights activists and the “homosexual machine” are as immoral as pedophiles, drug dealers and pimps.

“This case will be precedent setting for Albertans, and if forced to go before the Supreme Court of Canada, for Canadians at large,” says a web site operated by Concerned Christians Canada. “This is not just a battle against free speech by the militant and well-funded homosexual radicals, but this is even more importantly an attack on clergy and religious organizations.”

Boisson operates a youth outreach program and has accused the public school system of subjecting kids to psychologically damaging pro-gay materials to foster equal rights. “My banner has now been raised and war has been declared so as to defend the precious sanctity of our innocent children and youth, that you so eagerly toil, day and night, to consume.”

Gay priest jams

The San Francisco Chronicle has this excellent satire on the Vatican’s plan to ban gay priests.


St. Joseph’s Oratory

st_josephs_oratoryOn my Montreal Top Ten must-see sites is surely St. Joseph’s Oratory, which crowns the western flank of Mount Royal and is the largest church in Canada. It also boasts the second-largest dome of its kind in the world, after St. Peter’s

The basilica is best known for the pilgrims who pour into it seeking healing for blindness, handicaps, and illness. The people who come here are known as “knee walkers,” because they ascend the basic’s imposing central wooden staircase, praying prostrate the entire way. A piece in the Montreal Gazette looks at the interesting ritual that attracts dozens of faithful each day — mostly immigrants to Canada.

A below-ground votive room in the basilica is one of Montreal’s most haunting places, filled with 10,000 lit candles and walls lined with thousands of crutches of those apparently healed through prayer at the church

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