Archive for the 'New York' Category

Is there any suitable common ritual format for a diverse gathering of Lilith devotees?

March 22, 2011

Lilith’s Tribe in New York City aims to be inclusive of the many different kinds of people who are drawn to Lilith. That’s tricky to accomplish, on many levels.

If such a group were to perform a public or semi-public ritual, what kind of ritual format would be appropriate?

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Some of my history of challenging prejudice (mainly anti-Satanism by Pagans)

March 19, 2011

Lately, challenging people’s prejudices has gotten much harder than it used to be. Once it was easy and fun. Over the years it became much more difficult. Lately, it often seems to have become almost impossible. For whatever reasons, it seems that most people today are a lot less willing to consider new ideas than most people were, say, back in the 1970’s.

Nevertheless, even today it is still possible to make progress in counteracting specific prejudices, if one is willing to be persistent about it.

Here’s a brief history of some of my major successes and failures at challenging people’s prejudices over the past few decades:

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On being “God-owned”: “spiritual orientation” vs. divine “rape”?

March 15, 2011

Another post by Anya Kless has called my attention to the following: (1) Fun Facts For the Deity-Owned by Laura Patsouris, Patheos, January 26, 2011, and (2) God-Owned: Humans as Pets by P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, January 26, 2011.

I can relate to the experience of being “God-owned,” although I’ve tended to use different terminology to describe it.

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Lilith and Samael, according to Anya Kless

March 13, 2011

Anya Kless, author of Lilith: Queen of the Desert, has written a very interesting blog post titled Samael: God of the Left Hand. Among other things, she confesses:

I don’t know if I’m ready to say that anyone who works with Satan is actually working with Samael (or one of His faces), but it seems quite possible. Considering the eye-rolling I used to do about Satanism, it’s actually rather ironic that, if the Satanists are right, I’m working with Him. Gods are funny that way.

I am, of course, relieved to see that past-tense “used to.” She also references a website called “Severity of God” (about Samael) by a LaVeyan Satanist who is also an Aztec reconstructionist.

Anyhow, Anya Kless’s post is an interesting compilation of lore about Samael, plus a brief account of some of her own personal spiritual experiences involving Samael.

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Preliminary response to Michael Cuneo on exorcism

February 12, 2011

I recently ordered a copy of American Exorcism: Expelling Demons in the Land of Plenty by Michael Cuneo, who teaches anthropology and sociology at Fordham University in the Bronx, here in New York City. According to various reviews (listed near the bottom of this post), Cuneo’s book is an in-depth study, from an open-mindedly skeptical point of view, of exorcism as practiced by both Catholics and Protestants here in the U.S.A.

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The JBFCS Cult Clinic and Satanism: A response to Arnold Markowitz, LCSW

January 27, 2011

(revised February 10, 2011)

Here in New York City, there is a Cult Hotline and Clinic run by the JBFCS (the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services). They provide various helpful services to ex-members of “cults” and to estranged families and friends of “cult” members. They are, as far as I can tell, the only place in New York City that offers such services.

Truly harmful religious groups certainly do exist, and it’s good that there are at least a few places, like the JBFCS Cult Clinic, where people who have been hurt by such groups can get help. But the website of the JBFCS Cult Clinic associates Satanism in general with “cults,” even though the vast majority of Satanist groups (or, at least, most of the ones I’ve run into) do not fit the JBFCS Cult Clinic’s definition of a “cult.”

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Bill Keller and his “9/11 Christian Center at Ground Zero”

July 14, 2010

Earlier I commented briefly on the nonsensical protests against the construction of a mosque several blocks from Ground Zero. Now, according to a post today by Richard Bartholomew, a Controversial Preacher Seeks to Establish “Outreach Center” Near Ground Zero. The controversial preacher is Bill Keller, who is planning to build an anti-Muslim “9/11 Christian Center at Ground Zero.”

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The alleged “Satan-loving arsonist,” again, in the case of Glory of Christ Church in the Bronx

July 12, 2010

A church in the Bronx that had been burned down by arsonists last year, Glory of Christ Church, has been rebuilt and held its first worship services in the new building yesterday, according to several news stories yesterday and today.

In news stories back in December about the arson itself, there was quite a bit of unfounded hullabaloo about the arsonist being a “Satanist.” In today’s news stories — or at least the online versions — the word “Satanist” does not appear, but one story does describe the culprit as “a Satan-loving arsonist.” Even “Satan-loving” is unfounded.

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New York City Mosque Protest

June 13, 2010

Looks like we’ve got quite a recent stirring of irrational Islamophobia in New York City recently. The blog Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion has a good summary: New York Mosque Protest by Richard Bartholemew, June 9, 2010.

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More about the case of Anthony Anderson

May 22, 2010

[Sigh!] I just now unapproved yet another comment, from Axis Sallyboy X. that was in gratuitous violation of WordPress’s terms of service, and of my own desire to keep this blog G-rated, for the sake of search engine rankings and such. I’ll now paraphrase and respond to the substantive parts of the comment.

In response to my request for more info on how (according to an earlier comment by Sallyboy) Anthony Anderson was brutalized by the police, Sallyboy wrote that, before the vandalism/graffiti incident, Anthony Anderson had been doing office work at the 105th police precinct (92-08 222nd Street, Queens Village, NYC), first as a volunteer, then as an employee. Once he became a “Super Duper Special Trustee,” according to Sallyboy, Anderson was used as a sex slave by the entire staff at the precinct.

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Reply to “Axis Sallyboy X”

May 18, 2010

On another blog of mine, someone identified as “Axis Sallyboy X” posted a fervent comment on my post announcing the Church of Azazel’s statement against violent crime and vandalism. Unfortunately, the comment was full of expletives plus some implied threats, which are not in my interests to allow, as they are likely a terms-of-service violation.

So I’ve deleted the comment. Below is an edited version of the comment, followed by my reply:

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Some improvement in local news coverage of Kim Simon murder suspects

March 18, 2010

Well, it looks like recent Church of Azazel press release (see my previous post) might have influenced subsequent reporting by the Utica Observer Dispatch about the murder of Kimberly Simon, although we didn’t get mentioned. According to the latest Utica Observer Dispatch news storyn, 3 persons of interest in Simon case were questioned in 1980s by Rocco LaDuca, March 17, 2010:

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More about the Kimberly Simon murder case, featured on “America’s Most Wanted” tomorrow

March 12, 2010

Below is a copy (minus contact info) of a press release I sent out today regarding a murder case that will be featured on “America’s Most Wanted” tomorrow, for which the currently-suspected perpetrators are a small group of “Satan worshipers.”

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America’s Most Wanted: The “Satan worshipers” who allegedly killed Kimberly Simon

March 10, 2010

I’ve been working on a Statement against violent crime and vandalism for the Church of Azazel. We absolutely need to finish writing this statement now, because, on Saturday, March 13, America’s Most Wanted will air a show about an old cold case of a murder committed back in 1985, for which the currently suspected perpetrators are a local group of “Satan worshipers.”

Previously another person, Steven Barnes, had been convicted of murdering Kimberly Simon, a 16-year-old who had been attending Whitesboro High School in Oneida County, New York, back in 1985. Last year, Steven Barnes was exonerated after having spent more than twenty years in prison. So the investigation has been reopened.

Suspicion now falls on a group of “Satan worshipers” who had been interviewed by the original investigators and who were not charged with the crime back then.

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Some very good news

April 23, 2009

I’ve been away for a long time — very busy with a new job, among other things.

Some good news: As of this past month, I’ve found a very passionate co-administrator for the budding NYC proto-congregation of the Church of Azazel, and also for New Yorkers Against Religion-Based Bigotry. Hopefully both can now, finally, begin to get off the ground. I cannot launch them all by myself.

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Belated reply to Phil Orenstein about Debbie Almontaser and the KGIA

September 21, 2008

Phil Orenstein posted a reply, here, to my post More about the controversy over the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA). Phil, I’m sorry about the delay in moderating your comment, which was posted during my recent hiatus from this blog. Anyhow, here is my further reply.

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More about the controversy over the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA)

May 31, 2008

My post The “Stop the Madrassa” Coalition and its campaign against the Khalil Gibran International Academy has been quoted on the FrontPage magazine site in an article titled Fantasizing “The New McCarthyism” by Phil Orenstein, FrontPageMagazine.com, Friday, May 23, 2008.

Islamism (the totalitarian ideology) does pose a real threat. But it’s a threat that needs to be addressed with surgical precision, not blind hysteria.

Alas, Phil Orenstein’s article comes across to me as hysteria-mongering: a flood of accusations against various people, combined with a blatantly fallacious dismissal of the civil rights concerns of Muslims. But his article has inspired me to research several topics more deeply this past week, including hate crime statistics and the recent history of bigotry against both Jews and Muslims.

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The “Stop the Madrassa” Coalition and its campaign against the Khalil Gibran International Academy

April 29, 2008

When I first ran into the “Stop the Madrassa” Coalition’s blog last week, I was inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt that they may have had a valid church-state separation issue regarding the Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA). I do think it’s important to uphold separation of church (mosque) and state.

However, the more I’ve looked into this matter, the more it seems to me that the “Stop the Madrassa” Coalition is crying wolf. Their one valid complaint is the Board of Education’s unwillingness to provide complete information about the curriculum to the general public. On this matter, their arch-scapegoat, the Khalil Gibran school’s founder and former principal Debbie Almontaser, agrees with them, as I learned last night. She too wishes that the Board of Education and the school’s current administration would be more transparent, to allay public fears.

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Same-sex marriage here in New York State

June 22, 2007

A same-sex marraige bill, drafted by Governer Eliot Spitzer, won in the New York State Assembly this week. Alas, it didn’t even come to the floor in the State Senate, and the state legislature’s session ended this week, so the bill is dead for this year. Nevertheless, the win in the State Assembly was an important symbolic victory, increasing the likelihood that we’ll win equal marriage rights sometime within the next two years.

The big hurdle will continue to be the Republican-controlled State Senate, with majority leader Joseph L. Bruno, who opposes same-sex marriage. Elections aren’t until 2008, but, given that the Republicans hold only a very slim majority (by 2 seats), we might possibly get lucky in a mid-term election or two.

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Anti-gay right wing groups here in New York State

May 16, 2007

In my previous post, I mentioned a brief news story about the Coalition to Save Marriage in New York. I just now found that group’s website here. Their links page provides a handy list of major right wing groups here in New York State.

Of course, as I hope will be obvious to nearly everyone who would bother to read my blog, the Coalition’s name is just plain idiotic. Exactly how is the legalization of same-sex marriage going to destroy or in any way harm heterosexual marriages???

Anne F. Downey, co-chairwoman of the Coalition to Save Marriage in New York, is a lawyer practicing in the Town of Boston, according to the brief bio following an op-ed by her in the Buffalow News.

According to a page on the Albany Times-Union site:

The group’s steering committee includes the Rev. Duane Motley of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a frequent face at the Capitol on hot-button issues. Among the advisors is Mike Long, the state Conservative Party chairman. Signing on to a position statement opposing same-sex marriage were such groups as the New York Christian Coalition and New York Family Policy Council.

The Times-Union site also has a PDF copy of a press release by the Coalition to Save Marriage in New York.

The coalition’s site’s links page lists the following:

  • New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms (NYCF) – “The Christian Voice in Albany,” run by Rev. Duane Motley, who claims to be “New York State’s only full time Christian Lobbyist. Lobbying on Religious, Family and Moral issues.” Well, nice to know there’s only one, if indeed that’s the case.
  • Concerned Women for America of New York (CWA of NY) – local chapter of one of the older national religious right wing organizations. The national organization is run by Beverly LaHaye, wife of Tim LaHaye, author of the “Left Behind” series and one of the leading members of Jerry Falwell’s “Moral Majority” back in the 1970’s.
  • New York Family Policy Council – an evangelical Christian-oriented group. Judging by its name, I would have expected this to be an affiliate of James Dobson’s empire, but I find no reference to Dobson or his organizations in any conspicuous part of the site such as the About page. Lots of very scary rhetoric about Christians “occupying” the rest of society.
  • New York State Christian Coalition. Judging by its name, this would seem to be a local branch of Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition, though the website doesn’t say so, at least not on any page I’ve looked at so far.
  • The Association of Politically Active Christians (APAC) – run by some evangelical Christians.
  • Caucus for America, run by Rabbi Aryeh Spero.
  • New York State Catholic Conference – this site appears to be entirely in Chinese (or some closely related Asian language), at least on the browser where I am working now. I’ll see later if it still is on my computer at home. Seems strange that a New York “Catholic Conference” website would be in Chinese; I didn’t know that there were that many Chinese-American Catholics.
  • The Conservative Party of New York State – site contains a link to What Is Conservativism?, an interesting collection of articles about the Conservative movement in the U.S.A., on the website of the American Conservative Union Foundation
  • .

Same-sex marriage here in New York State

May 16, 2007

This post is a little belated, because it has been at least a few weeks since the last time I paid close attention to the same-sex marriage issue here in New York. But it appears that New York State’s governor Eliot Spitzer has indeed fulfilled his promise to draft and propose a same-sex marriage bill. Here are some relevant news stories:

  • “Spitzer Files Gay Marriage Bill,” April 27, 2007 – 10:00 am ET, 365Gay.com
  • “Spitzer unveils gay marriage bill; Senate leader balks,” by Marc Humbert, Associated Press, April 27, 2007, 3:08 PM EDT, New York Newsday
  • “Spitzer Offers Gay Marriage Bill Today” by Paul Schindler, Friday, April 27, 2007, Gay City News
  • “New York governor proposes legalizing gay marriage,” By Holly McKenna, April 27, 2007, Reuters, Boston Globe

Good for him. More recently the governer sent out a memo reaffirming his support for same-sex marriage:

The following commentary claims that Spitzer could more easily just issue an executive order legalizing same-sex marriage, without needing to go through the legislature:

  • “Governor Eliot Spitzer’s Same-Sex Marriage Hoax'” by Kimberly Wilder & Ian Wilder, OpEdNews.com

But, in 2006, there was a court decision that the issue of same-sex marriage had to be decided by the legislature.

In any case, Spitzer has issued an executive order requiring the state insurance department to recognize same-sex marriages from out-of-state jurisdictions:

  • “Same-Sex Spouse ‘Open Enrollment’,” by Andy Humm, 05/10/2007, Gay City News
  • “NY Gay Couples Married In Mass. Have Weddings Validated,” May 16, 2007 – 11:00 am ET, 365Gay.com

Here’s an article about a coalition of local conservative groups opposing the same-sex marriage bill:

  • “New York Coalition Opposes Same-Sex Marriage Bill: New Yorkers resisting governor’s proposed bill,” May 14, 2007, EURweb.com

But the member groups in that coalition are not named in the above article. I guess I’ll have to try to dig up that info later.

Below is a summary of the summary of the situation in various states across the U.S.A.:

  • “Civil Unions & Same-Sex Marriage State By State,” May 10, 2007 1:27 pm US/Central, CBS2Chicagolcom