KENTUCKY ATHEISTS NEWS and NOTES

KENTUCKY ATHEISTS NEWS and NOTES
Date: November 17, 2006

Kentucky Atheists, P.O. Box 48, Union, KY 41091
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (859) 384-7000; Fax: (859) 384-7324
Web: http://www.atheists.org/ky

Editor’s personal web site: http://www.edwinkagin.com

Edited by:

Edwin Kagin, Kentucky State Director, American Atheists, Inc.

(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for nonbelievers; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)

ATHEISM IS A CONCLUSION NOT A BELIEF

To Unidentified Recipients:

KAGIN ON RADIO TODAY

WHO: Edwin Kagin, National Legal Director for American Atheists

WHAT: Is to appear on the Dr. Joseph Michelli show, a live radio call in talk show out of Colorado Springs, to be guest hosted by Jeff Crank.

WHEN: Friday, November 17, 2006, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm Eastern Time (drive
time).

WHERE: 740 KVOR http://www.kvor.com/programming.asp

You can listen live here: http://www.kvor.com . You will need to sign up, but it is free and easily done.

This program will be sandwiched between the Sean Hannity and the Michael Savage shows.

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The Vatican’s web site is: HYPERLINK http://www.vatican.va/phome_en.htm

Thought you should know.

Edwin.

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From reader Jan:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,,1946370,00.html

So what’s with all the dinosaurs?

The world’s first Creationist museum – dedicated to the idea that the creation of the world, as told in Genesis, is factually correct – will soon open. Stephen Bates is given a sneak preview and asks: was there really a tyrannosaurus in the Bible?
Stephen Bates
Monday November 13, 2006
Guardian

Just off the interstate, a couple of junctions down from Cincinnati’s international airport, over the state line in rural Kentucky, the finishing touches are being put to an impressive-looking building. When it is finished and open to the public next summer, it may, quite possibly, be one of the weirdest museums in the world.

The Creation Museum – motto: “Prepare to Believe!” – will be the first institution in the world whose contents, with the exception of a few turtles swimming in an artificial pond, are entirely fake. It is dedicated to the proposition that the account of the creation of the world in the Book of Genesis is completely correct, and its mission is to convince visitors through a mixture of animatronic models, tableaux and a strangely Disneyfied version of the Bible story.

Its designer, Patrick Marsh, used to work at Universal Studios in Los Angeles and then in Japan before he saw the light, opened his soul to Jesus, and was born anew. “The Bible is the only thing that gives you the full picture,” he says. “Other religions don’t have that, and, as for scientists, so much of what they believe is pretty fuzzy about life and its origins … oh, this is a great place to work, I will tell you that.”

So this is the Bible story, as truth. Apart from the dinosaurs, that is. As you stand in the museum’s lobby – the only part of the building approaching completion – you are surrounded by life-size dinosaur models, some moving and occasionally grunting as they chew the cud.Beside the turtle pool, two animatronic, brown-complexioned children, demurely dressed in Hiawatha-like buckskin, gravely flutter with movement. Behind them lurk two small Tyrannosaurus Rexes. This scene is meant to date from before the Fall of Man and, apparently, dinosaurs.

Theological scholars may have noticed that there are, in fact, no dinosaurs mentioned in the Bible – and here lies the Creationists’ first problem. Since there are undoubtedly dinosaur bones and since, according to the Creationists, the world is only 6,000 years old – a calculation devised by the 17th-century Bishop Ussher, counting back through the Bible to the Creation, a formula more or less accepted by the museum – dinosaurs must be shoehorned in somewhere, along with the Babylonians, Egyptians and the other
ancient civilisations. As for the Grand Canyon – no problem: that was, of course, created in a few months by Noah’s Flood.

But what, I ask wonderingly, about those fossilised remains of early man-like creatures? Marsh knows all about that: “There are no such things. Humans are basically as you see them today. Those skeletons they’ve found, what’s the word? … they could have been deformed, diseased or something. I’ve seen people like that running round the streets of New York.”

Nothing can dent the designer’s zeal as he leads us gingerly through the labyrinth of rooms still under construction, with bits of wood, and the odd dinosaur head occasionally blocking our path. The light of keenness shines from the faces of the workers, too, as they chisel out mountain sides and work out where to put the Tree of Life. They greet us cheerily as we pass.

They, too, know they are doing the Lord’s Work, and each has signed a contract saying they believe in the Seven Days of Creation theory. Mornings on this construction site start with prayer meetings. Don’t think for a minute that this is some sort of crazy little hole-in-the-corner project. The museum is costing $25m (£13m) and all but $3m has already been raised from private donations. It is strategically placed, too – not in the middle of nowhere, but within six hours’ drive of two-thirds of the entire population of the US. And, as we know, up to 50 million of them do believe that the Bible’s account of Creation is literally true.

We pass the site where one day an animatronic Adam will squat beside the Tree. With this commitment to authenticity, I find myself asking what they are doing about the fig leaf. Marsh considers this gravely and replies: “He is appropriately positioned, so he can be modest. There will be a lamb or something there next to him. We are very careful about that: some of our donors are scared to death about nudity.”

The same will go for the scene where Eve is created out of Adam’s rib, apparently, and parents will be warned that little children may be scared by the authenticity of some of the scenes. “Absolutely, because we are in there, being faithful to scripture.”

A little licence is allowed, however, where the Bible falls down on the details. The depiction of a wall-sized section of Noah’s Ark is based, not on the traditional picture of a flat-decked boat, but one designed by navy engineers with a keel and bows, which might, at least, have floated. “You can surmise,” says Marsh. When you get inside, there’s nifty computer software telling you how they fitted all the animals in, too.

The museum’s research scientist, Dr Jason Lisle, has a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He realised he was a Christian while he was an undergraduate, but didn’t spread it around: “People get very emotional about the issue. I don’t believe we should ever be obnoxious about our faith. I just kept quiet.” And how did he pass the exams? “I never lied, but if I was asked a question about the age of the universe, I answered from my knowledge of the topic, not my beliefs.”

The museum’s planetarium is his pride and joy. Lisle writes the commentary. “Amazing! God has a name for each star,” it says, and: “The sun’s distance from earth did not happen by chance.” There is much more in this vein, but not what God thought he was doing when he made Pluto, or why.

Now, we are taken to meet Ken Ham, the museum’s director and its inspiration. Ham is an Australian, a former science teacher – though not, he is at pains to say, a scientist – and he has been working on the project for much of the past 20 years since moving to the US. “You’d never find something like this in Australia,” he says. “If you want to get the message out, it has to be here.”

Reassuringly, on the wall outside his office, are three framed photographs of the former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh – “cricket’s never really caught on over here” – and inside, on his bookshelves, is a wooden model of a platypus. On top of the shelves is an array of fluffy poodle toys, as well as cuddly dinosaurs. “Poodles are degenerate mutants of dogs. I say that in my lectures and people present them to me as gifts.”

Ham is a large man with a chin-hugging beard like an Old Testament prophet or an old-fashioned preacher, both of which he is, in a way. He lectures all over the world and spent a month in Britain earlier in the summer spreading the message to the faithful in parish halls from Cornwall to Scotland. “We want to try to convince people using observational science,” he says. “It’s done very gently but forthrightly. We give both sides, which is more than the Science Museum in London does.”

This is true in that the Creation museum does include an animatronic evolutionist archaeologist, sitting beside a creationist, at one point. But there’s no space for an animatronic Charles Darwin to fit alongside King David and his harp.

On the shelf behind Ham’s desk lie several surprising books, including Richard Dawkins’ latest. “I’ve skipped through it. The thing is, Dawkins does not have infinite knowledge or understanding himself. He’s got a position, too, it’s just a different one from ours. The Bible makes sense and is overwhelmingly confirmed by observable science. It does not confirm the belief in evolution.”

But if you believe in the Bible, why do you need to seek scientific credibility, and why are Creationists so reluctant to put their theories to peer review, I ask?

“I would give the same answer as Dawkins. He believes there is no God and nothing you could say would convince him otherwise. You are dealing with an origins issue. If you don’t have the information, you cannot be sure. Nothing contradicts the Bible’s account of the origins.”

We wander across to the bookshop, which, far from being another biblical epic, is done up like a medieval castle, framed with heraldic shields and filled with images of dragons – dragons, you see, being what dinosaurs became. It is full of books with titles such as Infallible Proofs, The Lie, The Great Dinosaur Mystery Solved and even a DVD entitled Arguments Creationists Should Not Use. As we finish the tour, Ham tells us about the museum’s website, http://www.AnswersInGenesis.org They are expecting 300,000 visitors a year. “You’ve not seen anything yet,” he says with a smile.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2006

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From reader Nadia:

Guess Who Doesn’t Believe in God?

Eleven percent of U.S. adults admit they don’t believe in God. Surprisingly, while 73 percent profess a belief in God, they are riddled with doubt, not certain God actually exists.

Specifically, 42 percent admit they are not “absolutely certain” there is a God, while 15 percent are only “somewhat certain.” Eleven percent think there is probably no God and 16 percent aren’t sure, according to this Harris Poll of 2,010 U.S. adults conducted in 2006. There is no consensus on God’s gender, form or degree of control over events on earth.

Not all who describe themselves as Christian or Jewish believe in God. Indeed, only 76 percent of Protestants, 64 percent of Catholics and 30 percent of Jews say they are “absolutely certain” there is a God. However, 93 percent of Christians who describe themselves as “born again” are absolutely certain there is a God.

Who is absolutely certain there is a God?

People in all age groups 40 and over (63 percent of those ages 40 to 49, 65 percent of those ages 50 to 64 and 65 percent of those ages 65 and over) compared to people in age groups under 40 (45 percent of those ages 18 to 24, 43 percent of those ages 25 to 29 and 54 percent of those ages 30 to 39); Women (62 percent) slightly more than men (54 percent); African Americans (71 percent) compared to Hispanics (61 percent) and Whites (57 percent); Republicans (73 percent) more than Democrats (54 percent) or Independents (51 percent); People with no college education (62 percent) or who have some college education (57 percent), compared to college graduates (50 percent) and those with post-graduate degrees (53 percent).

How often do we attend religious services?

35 percent attend once a month or more, including 26 percent of these who attend once a week or more. 46 percent say they attend services just a few times a year or less. 18 percent never attend.

Is God male or female?

The public is almost equally divided between those who think of God as male (36 percent) and “neither male nor female” (37 percent), with 10 percent saying “both male and female.” Only one percent thinks of God as female.

Does God have a human form?

A substantial plurality of the public (41 percent) thinks of God as “a spirit or power that can take on human form but is not inherently human.” 27 percent think of God as a “spirit or power that does not take on human form.” Only 9 percent of adults think of God as being “like a human being with a face, body, arms, legs, eyes, etc.

How much control does God have over events on earth?

Less than one-third of all adults (29 percent) believe that God “controls what happens on Earth, including 57 percent of born-again Christians. A plurality (44 percent) believes that God “observes but does not control what happens on Earth.

Do Jews, Christians and Muslims worship the same God?

About half (51 percent) of all adults, including a majority of Catholics (63 percent), believe that Jews, Christians and Muslims all worship the same God. 32 percent believe they do not. 16 percent are not sure. Among born-again Christians, 54 percent say they do not worship the same God, while 34 percent say they do.

Are believers declining?

Three years ago, in an identical survey, 79 percent of adults said they believed in God and 66 percent said they were absolutely certain that there is a God. In this new survey, those numbers have declined to 73 percent and 58 percent respectively.

–From the Editors at Netscape

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http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-5/1163571262150640.xml&coll=1

Student tapes teacher proselytizing in class
Accept Jesus or ‘you belong in hell,’ he said
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
BY KEN THORBOURNE
JERSEY JOURNAL

A Kearny High School student has accused a history teacher of crossing the line between teaching and preaching — and he says he’s got the tapes to prove it.

Junior Matthew LaClair, 16, said history teacher David Paszkiewicz, who is also a Baptist preacher in town, spent the first week of class lecturing students more about heaven and hell than the colonies and the Constitution.

LaClair said Paszkiewicz told students that if they didn’t accept Jesus, “you belong in hell.” He also dismissed as unscientific the theories of evolution and the “Big Bang.”

LaClair, who described his own religious views as “non-Christian,” said he wanted to complain about Paszkiewicz to school administrators, but feared his teacher would deny the charges and that no one would take a student’s word against a teacher’s. So, he said, he started taping Paszkiewicz.

“I would never have suspected something like this went on in a public school,” LaClair said yesterday. “If I didn’t have those CDs, everything would have been dismissed.”

The Jersey Journal has listened to the recordings and no one is disputing that it is Paszkiewicz who is speaking. Paszkiewicz, a teacher at the high school since 1992, did not return phone messages left for him at the high school. Principal Al Somma declined to comment.

Superintendent Robert Mooney, who called Paszkiewicz “a wonderful teacher,” said he was aware of the issues raised by LaClair — and the recordings — and that “corrective action” would be taken. He refused to elaborate. As of yesterday, however, Paszkiewicz was still teaching his class, Mooney said.

On Sept. 14 — the fourth day of class — Paszkiewicz is on tape saying, “He (God) did everything in his power to make sure that you could go to heaven, so much so that he took your sin on his own body, suffered your pains for you and he’s saying, ‘Please accept me, believe me.’”

He adds, according to the tapes: “If you reject that, you belong in hell. The outcome is your prerogative. But the way I see it, God himself sent his only son to die for David Paszkiewicz on that cross … And if you reject that, then it really is to hell with you.”

Paszkiewicz didn’t limit his religious observations to personal salvation, according to the tapes.

Paszkiewicz shot down the theories of evolution and the “Big Bang” in favor of creationism. He also told his class that dinosaurs were on Noah’s ark, LaClair said.

On Oct. 10 — a month after he first requested a meeting with the principal — LaClair met with Paszkiewicz, Somma and the head of the social studies department.

At first, Paszkiewicz denied he mixed in religion with his history lesson, and the adults in the room appeared to be buying it, LaClair said. But then he reached into his backpack and produced the CDs.

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Update of the foregoing from reader Len Zanger:

http://lippard.blogspot.com/2006/11/public-school-teacher-tells-class-you.html

Sunday, November 12, 2006
Public school teacher tells class: “You belong in hell”

The following is from Paul L. LaClair, a NYC attorney who lives in Kearny, New Jersey, and is posted with his permission. David Paszkiewicz, the teacher described here engaging in incompetent teaching and dishonesty, http://www.kbaptistchurch.org/e/about/ is apparently a youth pastor at Kearny Baptist Church in addition to being a public school teacher. LaClair’s son Matthew has previously garnered attention for
http://barnson.org/node/640 protesting Bush administration activities by refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. He seems to be a principled and courageous young man who has caught a really bad teacher:

Kearny, New Jersey November 10, 2006

A history teacher at the local public high school here may have bitten off more than he cares to chew this fall. Self-described conservative Baptist David Paszkiewicz used his history class to proselytize biblical fundamentalism over the course of several days at the beginning of this school year.

Among his remarks in open class were statements that a being must have created the universe, that the Christian Bible is the word of God, and that dinosaurs were aboard Noah’s ark. If you do not accept Jesus, he flatly proclaimed to his class, “you belong in hell.” Referring to a Muslim student who had been mentioned by name, he lamented what he saw as her inevitable fate should she not convert. In an attempt to promote biblical creationism, he also dismissed evolution and the Big Bang as non-scientific, arguing by contrast that the Bible is supported by what he calls confirmed biblical prophecies.

After taking the matter to the school administration, one of Paszkiewicz’s students, junior Matthew LaClair, requested a meeting with the teacher and the school principal. LaClair, a non-Christian, was requesting an apology and correction of false and anti-scientific statements. After two weeks, a meeting took place in the principal’s office, wherein Paszkiewicz denied making many of these comments, claiming that LaClair had taken his remarks out of context. Paszkiewicz specifically denied using the phrase, “you belong in hell.” He also asserted that he did nothing different in this class than he has been doing in fifteen years of teaching.

At the end of the meeting, LaClair revealed that he had recorded the remarks, and presented the principal with two compact discs. The teacher then declined to comment further without his union representative. However, he fired one last shot at the student, saying, “You got the big fish … you got the big Christian guy who is a teacher…!”

Commenting on the situation, LaClair’s father, attorney Paul LaClair said, “In a few short weeks, this teacher has displayed bigotry, hypocrisy, arrogance and an appalling ignorance of science. The school’s administrators seem not to appreciate the damage this man is doing to young minds. He has some real abilities as a teacher, but this conduct is the intellectual equivalent of the school cafeteria serving sawdust.”

The student and his parents have requested that the teacher’s anti-scientific remarks be corrected in open class, and that the school develop quality control procedures to ensure that future classes are not proselytized and misinformed. They have also referred the matter for disciplinary action. No apology has been forthcoming from the teacher or from the school. The parents state that because of the administration’s inaction, they have taken the matter to the school board this week, from whom they are awaiting a response. Some local press from this story is expected this week; the blogosphere may generate more attention.

(This came to my attention from a post on the SKEPTIC list by Paul Harrison–thanks, Paul.)

UPDATE (November 15, 2006): This story
http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/jersey/index.ssf?/base/news-5/1163571262150640.xml&coll=1
has now been reported in the Newark Star-Ledger.

UPDATE: http://www.nj.com/news/jjournal/index.ssf?/base/news-0/1163573821277990.xml&coll=3
The Jersey Journal has picked up the story and
http://www.nj.com/cgi-bin/prxy/xmedia/nph-cache.cgi/cache=300;/njo/njo/classaudio.mp3
put some of the audio online. The story is also being picked up by NYC-area radio and television–the LaClairs have been interviewed by or have scheduled interviews with WCBS radio, 1010 WINS radio, Fox 5 News, and NBC 4 News.

posted by Jim Lippard at

http://lippard.blogspot.com/2006/11/public-school-teacher-tells-class-you.html

Just Wanted to Say Thanks

17 November 2006, we return to blogging with this offering:

I am so happy for this dear saved soul! Now he does not have to suffer death and corruption like non-believers. He can now enjoy life everlasting and the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. And he can watch with pleasure the hideous suffering of the damned who so heartbreakingly accept facts over make believe.

How simple! How elegant! How obvious! God did it!

No more worry, no more doubt. Creation brought it all about.

Edwin.



From: (Redacted)
Sent: Tuesday, November 14, 2006 8:02 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: Just wanted to say “Thanks!”

Edwin,

I graduated from Covington Latin School at the age of 15. A couple of humanist priests taught me evolution and discredited the Bible. I almost committed suicide in despair over the “Big Bang” theory – all is meaninglessness. One of the priests committed suicide, the other, the Rev. Earl Bierman, sits in a KY jail as far as I know. I left Erlanger at the age of 17 as an atheist. That night when I arrived in CT my Father let me hear some teaching tapes on Genesis. I heard an explanation of life that I had never heard before. I have been a follower of Jesus the Christ ever since.

I recently attended Hen Ham’s Answers In Genesis Creation College 2. A very educational and inspiring week it was. I just heard the story of how you tried to stop him. Are you aware of how your evil intentions have turned out for good? A much larger and better facility has now been erected because of your opposition. I just wanted to say “Thanks!”.

Sincerely,

(Redacted)

Snowflake Children

Battlefield Notes
American Religious Civil War (ARCW)

In a fairly recent and most creative abdication of reason, certain fundangelicals have started encouraging “adoption” of frozen embryos. Yeah, no kidding.

Just think of the possibilities. Validation of fetal personhood. Birth without sex. The greatest thing to happen for the fundangelical world view since AIDS.

Know what they call these icy units? They call them “Snowflake Children” that’s what. You can prove this to your satisfaction by creative use of Google.

Here is an Edwinian contribution to this effort.

The following can be sung to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot.”

I’m a Little Snowflake Child

I ‘m a little sinless snowflake child
A godly girl can have me without being wild;
Please be my mommy and make me smile
Virgin birth a darling little snowflake child.

Edwin Kagin

FRANK ZINDLER TO DEBATE FOOLS

TODAY:

Here is a rare opportunity to hear Frank Zindler of American Atheists try to inject some facts and critical thinking into the “Fanatics Opposing Objectively Learning Science” (FOOLS) program endorsed by our nation’s temporary President.

Edwin.
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American Atheists Media Alert

ZINDLER WILL DEBATE CREATIONISM, “INTELLIGENT DESIGN” TODAY (THURSDAY, 8/4) ON JANET PARSHALL’S AMERICA RADIO PROGRAM

Frank Zindler, Science Advisor for American Atheists will be the guest Thursday afternoon (August 4, 2005) on the nationally-syndicated “Janet Parshall’s America” Radio Program broadcast live from Washington, DC and on the internet. Check local listings; in DC, the program airs on WAVA, 105.1. Log on to http://www.wava.com and you can listen via the internet.

Zindler is a former biology professor and now serves as Editor of American Atheists Press. He is a nationally recognized authority on the history, mythology and flaws of creationism, “intelligent design” and other pseudo-science accounts pertaining to human origins. He is a professional linguist, and the author of several books and numerous articles concerning Biblical inerrancy, scientific-cultural issues and the alleged historicity of Jesus Christ.

WHO & WHAT: Frank Zindler, American Atheists, today on the “Janet Parshall’s America” program nationally syndicated, on the internet

WHEN: Today, Thursday, August 4, 2005 , 3:15 – 4:00 PM ET. Check local listings.

WHERE: “Janet Parshall’s America” show from Washington, DC & internet.

Visit http://www.wava.com

MORE INFO: http://www.wava.com and http://www.jpamerica.com

(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil rights for Atheists; works for the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy.)

DEAR INTELLIGENT DESIGNER

Creator God of Everything, I hope Thee wilt not decline
To answer me my questionings of Intelligent Design.

I know that every living thing came from Thy mighty mind
That Thou created perfectly every life form that we find.

Some pious people tell me they have, through Thee, resolved
That Eden spawned all living things and that life has not evolved.

That each kind of Thy created works Thou did to finest form refine,
And human perfection clearly shows the intelligence of Thy design.

Creator God, please do explain the truths of I.D. to me
And why some flaw-free eyes Thou made need glass to clearly see.

Tell me God of Everything, for I know Thou cannot lie,
Why every perfect thing Thou made must one day age and die.

And why are joints, and backs, and bones subject to ruin and pain?
Why must heads ache, and kidneys leak, and blood vessels burst from strain?

Why do we jettison out our waste so near the port of birth?
Why should any of Thy organs quit? Were we designed just for Thy mirth?

Barely can we walk upright; most teeth will rot or fail.
And what does our appendix do? Did we once have a tail?

Why is our trachea, through which we breathe air, located to nearly meet
Our esophagus, so we sometimes inhale good things we try to eat?

Why do some bodies attack themselves, when from disease we might be free?
Tell me truly, God of Truth, were all our afflictions made by Thee?

Why does Intelligent Design make so many people fat
Why have we not the grace or ease designed into the cat?

I have other questions Deity, and I really don’t know how
A moment ago I knew them, but cannot recall them now.

Edwin Kagin.

from “Baubles of Blasphemy”
see: www.edwinkagin.com

Present U. S. Government is Proof of Law of Entropy

Someone trying to convince me that evolution is wrong, and that the religious idea of “Intelligent Design” is correct, wrote, in now familiar fallacious argument: “The law of entropy, which governs all matter, teaches that the net direction of the universe is always ever downward towards greater disorder, disorganization, and chaos – not greater order and complexity.”

Another way of more correctly stating the law of entropy is to say that in a closed system things that previously worked just fine go toward ever increasing disorganization and chaos. An example of this is the present, and hopefully temporary, government of the United States. Therein we can see entropy at work. If this were not so, arguments against evolution would be dismissed as the nonsense they are. Under the theocrats, we live in a closed system that is taking us toward ever greater disorganization and chaos.

Edwin.

Criminally Corrupt Kentucky Clergy

If gold rust, what will iron do? The following are far beyond my poor power to add or detract.

Some more religious in schools, some more posting of the Ten Commandments, some more absolute moral codes, less science and teaching of evolution, outlawing homosexuality and abortion, and all should be well.

Edwin.

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http://www.wcpo.com/news/2005/local/06/03/settlement.html

Covington Diocese Reaches Settlement With Sex Abuse Victims
Reported by: Tom McKee
Web produced by: Mark Sickmiller
Photographed by: 9News
Last updated: 6/3/2005 5:31:17 PM

The Diocese of Covington has settled its class action lawsuit with sex abuse victims.

The deal creates a settlement fund of $120 million dollars as compensation.

Insurance will provide $80 million dollars and the other $40 million will be a combination of investments and real estate from the Diocese.

The Catholic Center/Marydale Property in Erlanger will be put into escrow as part of the fund.

No parish property, parish funds or annual appeal monies will be used.

When Roger Foys was installed as Bishop of Covington he promised to reach out to sex abuse victims.

He met with more than seventy and told them no amount of money could compensate for their suffering as children.

On Friday, the church agreed to the settlement fund, regardless of when the abuse occurred.

Each victim will get between $5,000 and $450,000. The exact amount will be determined by a settlement administrator.

In a statement, Bishop Foys said, “I pray that this settlement will bring victims some measure of peace and healing to victims and their loved ones.”

Christy Miller, a spokesperson for SNAP, the survivors network for those abused by priests, says the Covington Diocese did the right thing.

“He set a precedence here. He put the victims first instead of the Diocese first and I think Cincinnati is lacking that. Cincinnati has put the Diocese ahead of the victims,” Miller said.

SNAP has long battled the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and its fund for abuse victims.

“Cincinnati came up with $3 million. Covington came up with $120 million dollars. That’s more than the entire State of Ohio has paid out. So this is a man, a Bishop, that understands the plight of the victims and wants to make a difference and wants to make things better. And I think he’s honestly trying to do that,” Miller said.

The matter had been in an out of court for more than a year with Stan Chesley as lead attorney for the victims.

Of the deal, Chesley said: “This is a very important and in many ways unprecedented result in an extremely difficult matter.”

Special Master John Potter still has to approve the settlement agreement.

A hearing in the case has been scheduled for next Thursday in Boone Circuit Court.

Below is a joint statement by the Diocese of Covington and Stan Chesley, Lead Counsel for the Class:

After more than a year of intense effort, the parties have reached a settlement of the class action that was filed in Boone County in February 2003 on behalf of all persons who were sexually abused by priests or other persons employed by the Diocese of Covington.

As part of the settlement, claimants will be grouped into four categories, based on the nature and severity of the abuse. The parties have agreed to a compensation range for each of the four categories ranging from $5,000 to $450,000, less court-ordered attorneys fees.

Individual awards within the agreed ranges will be determined by a settlement administrator, to be selected jointly by the parties. An individual whose injuries are exceptionally severe may apply to the settlement administrator for a supplemental award from a special fund.

In addition, a portion of the settlement funds will be set aside to assist the Diocese in its continuing efforts to make professional counseling available for all victims.

The settlement, which requires court approval, provides for the creation of a settlement fund of $120 million. The settlement fund will be comprised of $40 million in some combination of investments and real estate from the Diocese and an additional $80 million in insurance proceeds under insurance policies issued to the Diocese.

While the settlement will require considerable sacrifice by the Diocese, no parish property, parish funds, or Annual Appeal monies will be used for the settlement. The Diocese has agreed to pursue insurance coverage under its policies for class members? claims, through litigation if necessary.

Any settlement funds that are not required for the payment of claims and other settlement expenses, including court-ordered attorneys? fees, will be returned to the Diocese.

The Diocese has, over the past two years, been working to resolve all remaining sexual abuse claims and to achieve reconciliation with victims and their families.

“From the moment I was made aware of the extent of the abuse of children by priests in this Diocese,” Bishop Roger Foys said, “I made a promise that I would do all I could to reach out to the victims. After personally meeting with more than seventy victims, I am painfully aware that no amount of money can compensate for the harm these victims suffered as innocent children. Nevertheless, I pray that this settlement will bring some measure of peace and healing to victims and their loved ones. I offer a profound apology to those who were sexually abused by priests of the Diocese of Covington and especially to those who, in the past, were not treated with respect and courtesy when they came forth. I give you my assurance that we have been doing, and will continue to do, all that is humanly possible to assure that this reprehensible behavior by priests will never again be repeated in our Diocese. I am thankful that a settlement could be worked out which provides for compensation and professional counseling for victims but which also preserves intact the parishes and the essential ministry and administrative functions of the Diocese.”

Stan Chesley, lead counsel for the Plaintiffs, said, “This is a very important and in many ways unprecedented result in an extremely difficult matter. After diligently working together, the Diocese and Counsel for the class were able to forge a remarkable settlement that would not have occurred but for the good faith and honest efforts of Bishop Foys and his representatives. To begin with, any person who claims to have been sexually abused in any way by any religious person or employee of the Diocese may make a claim through court procedure no matter when it occurred and without regard to any restraint caused by statute of limitations. Second, compensation ranges for victims based upon seriousness and suffering are compatible with any comparable compensation figures anywhere in the United States. The additional supplemental monies will assure that the most serious cases receive appropriate attention. The additional anxiety and stress that would have occurred to the victims had there been a trial has been eliminated.

While this took a long time to accomplish, it could not have occurred without the commitment of both sides to work towards a fair and reasonable resolution.”

The Diocese will initially place into escrow properties in Boone County (the “Catholic Center/Marydale” property, a parcel in Union, and a parcel in Crittenden) as part of its contribution to the settlement fund. In addition to the diocesan offices, which are scheduled to move to St. Elizabeth Medical Center-North in August of this year, the Diocese?s retreat center and Cristo Rey Parish are currently located on the Catholic Center/Marydale property.

The agreement permits the Diocese to substitute cash or cash equivalent for the property. Bishop Foys hopes to develop a plan to redeem a portion of the Catholic Center/Marydale property, principally the former seminary building and the priests? cemetery, from the settlement fund.

The parties are very grateful to Judge John Potter for his patience and support while the many complexities of this settlement were worked out. The parties are also grateful to Mr. Kenneth Feinberg, who oversaw the initial stages of the settlement discussions.

The class, by definition, encompasses all persons, known and unknown, who were abused during the fifty-year class period. Information regarding court-established deadlines and what abuse victims must do to preserve their right to participate in the settlement will be published in local newspapers and parish bulletins in the coming weeks.

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http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/news/local/11849898.htm

Minister indicted in money scheme

Posted on Thu, Jun. 09, 2005

By Brett Barrouquere

ASSOCIATED PRESS

A Northern Kentucky minister was indicted yesterday on federal charges that he illegally transferred nearly $800,000 in church funds to himself, falsified a $4 million loan application and evaded taxes for four years.
A federal grand jury said the Rev. Larry J. Davis, who leads First Baptist Church in Cold Spring, wrote checks to himself from church bank accounts and lied to a federally insured bank about having church permission to secure the loan.

Davis faces one count of making a false statement in connection with a loan application, four counts of income tax evasion and two counts of transferring stolen funds in interstate commerce.

Davis’ attorney, Pat Hanley, said the indictment represents only the prosecution’s side of the story.

“Larry Davis hasn’t presented his side yet. He’s anxious to do so when this case goes to trial,” Hanley said.

The indictment, returned in Covington, is the culmination of more than a year of trouble at the church, which is located 20 minutes south of Cincinnati.

The church’s treasurer sent a letter to the Kentucky State Police in January 2004 saying more than $500,000 in church funds could not be accounted for and that there had been unusual activity in bank accounts designated to pay for construction at the facility.

The grand jury said Davis controlled those accounts.

The grand jury charged Davis with writing checks to himself totaling $792,000 from accounts designated to pay for construction.

When the funds for construction on the church ran out, Davis went to Fifth Third Bank and lied to loan officers about having the permission of the church board of trustees to secure a $4 million loan in the name of First Baptist Church, the indictment states.

Phone and e-mail messages to the church were not immediately returned yesterday.

Psychic Input in Aruba

A psychic has been consulted to help in determining the whereabouts and fate of the young American woman who disappeared on the 75 square mile island of Aruba.

Here is an Edwinian prediction: The psychic will say that those looking for the missing student should look for her near water.

Remember you heard it here first.

Edwin.

June 9th Radio Appearance Cancelled, etc.

My announced appearance on the Sue Wiley radio call-in talk show (WVLK 590 AM), Lexington, Kentucky, scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, June 9, 2005 beginning at 11:00 AM., to discuss our “activist judge” in Kentucky who is offering going to church as a way for defendants to get probated in his court, has been CANCELLED. According to a phone message just received, this is because of other pressing news that needs to be covered tomorrow morning. Maybe the Michael Jackson trial, which has some 2,000 newspersons eagerly awaiting a verdict rather than providing us with news about more important (but to many, less interesting) things, like a judge violating the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States by attempting to establish a religion in a Kentucky court.

My appearance will probably be rescheduled, as I have been on the Sue Wiley show many times, and, as anyone who has made a few media appearances knows, things happen, scheduled program content changes, and such happenings and changes often occur quite rapidly.

I have reported our concern about this judge to a member of the Board of Governors of the Kentucky Bar Association (KBA), now assembled for the KBA annual convention in Louisville, Kentucky. I would go, but I already have enough hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) to remain in good standing, and I have to get ready for Camp Quest 2005, now only nine (9) days away! For a neat calculator for figuring out how many dates are between two given dates, see: http://www.calendarhome.com/cgi-bin/date2.pl?month1=
10&date1=4&year1=2004&month2=1&date2=31&year2=2005

It is not too late to send one or more campers to Camp Quest 2005 (our 10th Anniversary, and the last year of the Age of Helen & Edwin). Nor is it too late to provide a Campership to sponsor a worthy kid who might show up in that judge’s court someday. You can find out about Camp Quest here: www.camp-quest.com

Edwin.