Tag Archives: Day of the Dead

When is a Pastor Embezzling from a Church? As the Feast of All Saints Approaches—is it time to Open the Barry Taylor Case to real inquiry as to all sides?

http://blogs.christianpost.com/time-for-everything/how-to-spot-a-pastor-or-priest-stealing-church-funds-16556/

I have not written on the Barry Taylor fiasco at All Saints Church in Beverly Hills for several weeks now.  It is not because my opinion has changed but just because… I have too much else going on in my life (LAME, LAME excuse, I know).  

Typically, the Feast of All Saints is the highlight of my own personal Church year.  Like so many modern (and historical) Christo-pagans, I love Halloween and Samhain, All Saints, and Day of the Dead/All Souls Day for their syncretic qualities, in both Europe and Mexico (translated to America), crossing the boundaries between ancient and contemporary religious worship and social customs.  One of my local chauffeurs (or more properly, in Spanish, “choferes”, Alberto Felipe, a hative Zapotec from Oaxaca), needed extra money for his mother to prepare the family altar in East L.A. for the Día de los Difuntos.  But, also I was confirmed at All Saints in Beverly Hills when I had just turned 14, in April 1974, and my parents’ Oxford Movement “home away from home” Church in London was All Saints on Margaret Street in London W1W, City of Westminster, in Fitzrovia, but near the triangulation point of that neighbourhood with Marylebone, and Soho.  So All Saints seems very important in my life.

And so I remain outraged that I found there one block from the intersection of Rodeo Drive and Santa Monica the first Episcopal Priest who ever really and truly moved me and inspired me to think, even to change my thinking, and he has been fired, forced to resign, on the flimsiest of charges, and this all just hits WAY too close to home.

Barry’s new home in Brentwood is a small “liberal” Lutheran Church in Brentwood on Church Street which looks every bit of the marginal suburban Church that it is.                                                 (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Village-Church-of-Westwood-Lutheran/116610431697541).  The Village Church is just not one of Walter Christaller’s “Central Place” the way All Saints Beverly Hills, in the heart of Los Angeles really and truly is.                                      (http://geography.about.com/od/urbaneconomicgeography/a/centralplace.htm).    So the presentation of “the Gospel according to Barry Taylor” (a book which I told him he should write on more than one occasion during the past two years), will be marginalized and pushed to the side.  This cannot be coincidence.

As the Feast of All Saints Approaches, the magnitude of the Tragedy and Travesty just keeps getting bigger. 

The question of the mere propriety of the charges against Barry which led to his forced resignation continues to grate at me: is it really “embezzlment” (in the sense of a misappropriation of funds or a breach of trust with the Congregation) for a priest to use funds from his own sermon’s collection plates for any expenses related to his role as a priest?

One June 13 2013 article I found on-line, “How to Spot a Pastor or Priest Stealing Church Funds,” the web-address I cited above at the outset of this note, suggested: 

“Here are four possible signs that money is being embezzled by religious leaders.

  1. The pastor or priest lives an extravagant lifestyle.
  2. The church leader regularly fails to turn in receipts when using the church or ministry credit card.
  3. The church sends you a receipt for donations and the amount listed doesn’t match your own records of what you have given. (Anonymously given cash offerings will not be tracked.)
  4. The church suddenly starts showing large unexplained debts.”

NONE of these factors were alleged to have manifested themselves at All Saints, Beverly Hills.  NO NOT ONE. 

Except that every one of Barry’s friends to whom I have spoken have affirmed that he NEVER USED a Church Credit Card or Charge Account and NEVER PRESENTED RECEIPTS for reimbursement from his expenditures.  And it is undeniably true that the ONLY member of the Clergy at All Saints housed in a somewhat extravagant manner is the Rector, Reverend Stephen Huber himself, complete with servants and a nearly unlimited entertainment budget—as is totally befitting of the neighborhood.  But Barry Taylor did not partake of such luxuries….not perhaps by choice, but because of internal Church Policies.

Churches are now regulated by the IRS under 501(c)(3).  This is the provision by which they maintain their Tax-Exempt Status.  The IRS is one of the major symptoms of alien domination and domestic slavery in the United States (of Untied Constitutional constraints) today.  There are those who believe that Churches who seek IRS protection are voluntarily serving Caesar rather than God—and yes, that was part of Barry’s Second Sermon at Westwood Village Lutheran Church two weeks ago.

A couple of years ago, Glenn Beck, one of whose “Reclaim America” Rallies I attended in Orlando back in the Spring of 2010, had asked Pastors to defy 501(c)(3) and preach on religion for at least one Sunday.(http://www.glennbeck.com/2012/09/27/pulpit-freedom-sunday/) I believe it was Stephen Huber’s First or Second Year as Rector of All Saints, when Barry’s alternative service was consigned to the small All Saints Chapel, before it was given full AS2 Status in the main Church, but Steve made it clear that All Saints WOULD NOT participate in “Pulpit Freedom” Sunday and that it planned on obeying all IRS regulations and that all IRS agents, officers, and tax collectors were welcome at All Saints.  The Gospel Truth and Christian validity of admitting Tax Collectors and (all other) Prostitutes to Church is unquestionable in light of the “WWJD?” formulaic question.  Jesus would invite the Publicans, and possibly even some Republicans (say I, speaking as both a former President of Tulane College Republicans,and one of the few Confessing Harvard graduate school Republicans known ever to have lived, a supporter of both the Buckley brothers and Ronald Reagan, both as California Governor and President of the USA, and of Pat Buchanan, and of Texas Representative Ron Paul both as congressman and presidential candidate, but also as one who has become strangely intolerant of and uninterested in Senator Rand Paul, whose emails have become very “spammy” rather than welcome information in my inbox).

But in spite of the Reverend Huber’s Gospel accuracy that we should tolerate tax collectors and IRS officials in our midst, I thought his message AGAINST Pulpit Freedom was something of a cop out. (and compare also: http://www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/pulpitfreedom). And I think that Huber’s and the Bishop’s “paper pushing” attack on Barry Taylor was wrong, untrustworthy, and generally, MORALLY unworthy.  

Great men like the Reverend Barry Taylor need to be preaching at “Central Places” to reshape and reform the Episcopal Church, and to guarantee the transformation and survival of the Christian Faith into the current millennium.  Things cannot be forever as they have been.  They must Change.  Barry Taylor Represents Change.  Barry Taylor needs a Centrally Placed Pulpit from which to Preach.  If All Saints and the Episcopal Church cannot accept the indictment of hypocrisy which the dismissal of Barry Taylor has leveled upon them, the members of the Church need to revolt, and to demand a “new birth of freedom” in the Episcopal Church—a new birth of Christian life and authenticity.  

Strange indeed that Barry reminds me more than anyone of the Irish Catholic John Dominic Crossan, with whose work I first became familiar when he visited for a fortnight at Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach (also in the Spring of 2010).  But unlike the highly academic Crossan, Taylor takes his message to the people.  And it seems that All Saints has ERASED all of Barry’s Recorded Sermons and DELETED all of his contributions over the years at All Saints, and this is one of the greatest tragedies in the English Church, comparable on a small scale to the monstrous destruction and abolition of the monasteries and the confiscation of their property under King Henry VIII.

For All Souls Day (aka “Day of the Dead” and/or Feast of the Faithful Departed): Human Sacrifice in Africa Today

Should we be surprised that Human Sacrifice, Slavery, and Cannibalism are Prevalent All Over Africa, today in late 2013?  In Colonial Mexico and Central America, after the Spanish Conquest, there is good evidence that Human Sacrifice persisted in many rural areas for at least 200 years after the Spanish Conquest despite continual Spanish Rule and the violent and often brutal suppression of the Native Mesoamerican priesthood, the tragic burning of ancient libraries, and the systematic destruction of temples.  There are many parallels between the practices of Human Sacrifice, Cannibalism, and Slavery in Africa and Mesoamerica, as Sir James G. Frazer noted in the Golden Bough, and as in fact was apparent even to the Spanish Conquistadors themselves, as in for example the writings of Bernal Diaz del Castillo.  

Child sacrifice, reported as widespread and common in Africa up through the present day (and even as a “thriving commercial business” in Uganda and Nigeria), was common among the prehispanic Mesoamericans.  There are relics surviving at least until the 1980s (by my own personal observations) of the importance of live children “bound with ropes and croaking like frogs” under the table of the Cha-Chaac, the modern Yucatec Maya Rain Ceremony, during years following the discovery of massive offerings of childrens’ skeletons under the altar of Tlaloc (the Aztec raingod) in the Templo Mayor excavations of Aztec Tenochtitlan in the heart of Mexico City.  Habitual child sacrifice was recorded at least as far north as among the Natchez of the Mississippi Valley up through the final obliteration and extermination of the Natchez by the French in the late 1720s.  Vestiges of Child Sacrifice (including the Sacrifice of adult children, such as the sons of the Kings of Israel and Judah who were made to “walk through the fire” in the Books of Chronicles and Kings) occur throughout the Bible, and legends of Jewish cannibalism of children are part of the “blood libel” that persisted at least through 15th century throughout Europe (consider the story of “Little St. Hugh” of Lincoln, which was one of many stories which led to the expulsion of the Jews from England in the 1320s.  (I had an uncle named “Hugh”, who now counts among the “Faithful Departed”).   As highly prejudicial and undocumented as the charges against Mediaeval European Jewry may be, the archaeological evidence recovered at by Harvard archaeologists at Carthage in Tunisia and by many excavations throughout Syria and Lebanon all document the ubiquity of child sacrifice among the Phoenicians  (most closely related by their alphabet and other customs to the Israelites) and all other Western Semitic peoples of the Bronze and Iron Ages.  Whether this heritage could support the legendary evidence that the Jews carried child sacrifice with them after the diaspora into Western Europe is, without archaeological evidence, a matter of mere conjecture.

Leaving Aside Slavery and Cannibalism, and considering only Human Sacrifice and Ritual Killing (including child sacrifice throughout Africa, and leaving aside the highly controversial questions of racially or politically motivated murders in, for example, Liberia, Sierra Leon, and above all in post-Apartheid South Africa, as of fourteen months ago, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights made this rather timid, cautious, almost apologetic report, allowing as how human sacrifice might violate the UN Charters on Individual Human Rights even if it infringes on the rights to freedom of religion and exercise of human conscience: http://hrbrief.org/2012/09/the-practice-of-ritual-killings-and-human-sacrifice-in-africa/

The Practice of Ritual Killings and Human Sacrifice in Africa

September 6, 2012 By \\

Despite the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights’ that provides an individual is entitled to respect for his life and integrity of his person, ritual killings and the practice of human sacrifice continue in several African countries. These practices entail the hunting down, mutilation, and murder of the most vulnerable people in society**, including people with disabilities, women, and children. Reports indicate that killings of this nature occur in Nigeria, Uganda, Swaziland, Liberia, Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania, Namibia, and Zimbabwe. Because of the secrecy involved in ritual sacrifices, a majority of these incidents go unreported and uninvestigated. Anti-sacrifice advocates face an uphill battle in combating these rituals because the practices are largely denied and touch on cultural underpinnings, resulting in an ideological conflict between protection of human rights and respect for the beliefs and practices of other cultures.

Those who practice sacrifice and ritual killings believe them to be acts of spiritual fortification. Motivations to carry out these acts include the use of human body parts for medicinal purposes and the belief that human body parts possess supernatural powers that bring prosperity and protection. In Uganda, reports indicate that child sacrifice is a business where the wealthy pay witch doctors to conduct sacrifices in an effort to expand their fortunes. In Swaziland and Liberia, politicians allegedly commission ritual killings to improve their odds in elections. In parts of South Africa, ritual killings are culturally accepted, and the practice is often not reported by community members.

Questions of cultural relativism may arise with respect to ritual killings because they may be linked with religious beliefs. Article 8 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights guarantees freedom of conscience, the profession and free practice of religion. The article also states that “No one may, subject to law and order, be submitted to measures restricting the exercise of these freedoms.” While a broad reading of Article 8 guaranteeing the right to religious freedom could theoretically permit ritual killings for religious reasons, the “subject to law and order” clause may be invoked to limit the free practice of religion with respect to ritual killings. Furthermore, reading the Charter in its entirety supports a prohibition on ritual killings. For instance, Article 5 states that every individual shall be “entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person.” If ritual killings were permitted as an acceptable exercise of religious freedom, the door is opened to many of potential human rights violations on the basis of religion.

In response to recent reports of ritual killings allegedly conducted by some traditional healers, other healers have spoken out against ritual killings, arguing that those practices are a disgrace to the history and culture of African medicine men and healers. In March 2012, Sierra Leone’s union of traditional healers met to put forward their campaign against ritual killings. Since the union’s founding in 2008, their mandate has always been to stop indiscriminate killings and afflictions of the innocent.

Activists rallying against ritual killings are calling for stronger protections, including legislation that would allow for the regulation of traditional healers. Some countries, such as Uganda, Rwanda, and Nigeria have taken steps to begin regulate traditional healers, but regulation is not widespread. Appropriately regulating traditional healers could provide necessary protection for individuals seeking care from traditional healers and could hold healers accountable for unlawful acts, such as ritual killings. Furthermore, regulation could provide protection for traditional healers, for example, with respect to intellectual property rights.

As they have done for centuries, traditional healers continue to fulfill an important role of providing beneficial medical services to communities. However, the practice of ritual killings and human sacrifice goes against the fundamental human rights norm of ensuring respect for an individual’s life and integrity of person. Although the African Charter guarantees the right to freely practice one’s religion, ritual killings are not permissible on this basis. The positive contributions of traditional healers to many African societies should not be compromised by the practice of ritual killings. Activists and governments can ensure respect for the human rights of all individuals by working to ensure transparency and accountability among traditional healers.

**CEL III Note Added: is it even worth mentioning that the minority Whites in post-Apartheid South Africa, not to mention any whites foolish enough to remain in Zimbabwe or Namibia, are among the most vulnerable members of society?