Church, Local, politics, Worship

An Open Letter to His Honor the Mayor Timothy Titus, of Paradise, California

Two thousand years ago, in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus of Nazareth instructed his followers that they should not pray in public; only hypocrites pray in public, he said.

The National Day of Prayer was founded in 1952 during the Red Scare, as an attempt to ostracize progressives in the U.S. as un-American. It was not an effort to bring peace to this land, but an effort to bring division.

In In April 2010, a federal judge found the National Day of Prayer to be unconstitutional.

An extremist group called the Ridge Ministerial Fellowship has organized a local National Day of Prayer event on on May 2, 2013, at Terry Ashe Park, a municipal facility located in the heart of our dear town. It is publicly documented that this organization has had a history of pressuring His Honor the Mayor, concerning Proposition 8 and its so-called “impact” on the PUSD. We humbly request that you help us to take a stand against them as a matter of civic duty.

It is one thing to host religious organizations for lectures or faith-based initiatives which bring unity to the community. It is quite another to host worship services which bring division to those who either believe praying the way they do is unwholesome and hypocritical (such as people who believe Jesus’ teachings) or other faiths which believe the way they pray is even blasphemous.

Hosting the National Day of Prayer event in the public park implies (intentionally or otherwise) that the secular town government is partial towards certain religions; towards those who wish to pray for supernatural help—who condemn other lifestyles as immoral—over against those who wish to use reason and action to bring change. To put it another way, there are people who wish to hold humans accountable for their actions and neighborly duties on one side, over against those who wish to create division and invoke a supernatural entity to do his will in our land. Our government should promote democracy and accountability, and encourage these interfaith organizations to observe their practices on private land.

A petition has been started on Change.org regarding this issue.

UPDATE: 10:40 AM
After further investigation, we have decided to close this petition. While the so-called “National Day of Prayer” is itself unconstitutional, this group has a right to worship in the park. In similar instances, the ACLU has fought to defend the rights of churches to worship organizationally in a park. If we work to prohibit them from doing so, the ACLU will be against us on this. (See http://www.aclu.org/religion-belief/aclu-tn-successfully-advocates-behalf-student-preachers)

The problem is the National Day of Prayer itself. But I don’t see how it’s possible to force people to use a different name for it if they do it every May anyway…

Thank you for your support.

UPDATE 8:30 PM
The mayor decided to respond despite the cancellation of the petition. This is what he said: “Since the Town neither owns nor controls the Recreation Center, the prayer event is not subject to Town approval, nor are we a sponsor of the event.” So much for my first foray into local politics…

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Local, politics, Social Justice

Holy Week starts off with acts of Christian terrorism

not really

(not really)

This morning a guy bombed a Planned Parenthood clinic in Wisconsin.

Then another guy took out his gun and went postal on all his friends at Oikos “University” in Oakland, a Dominionist institution that claims to provide “a Christian education that is based on solid Christian doctrine and ideology. Our main goal is to foster spiritual Christian leaders who abide by God’s intentions and to expand God’s nation through them.” That’s some scary shit.

“Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” – Jesus

Update April 3: KCHO reports the shooting in Oakland is “the deadliest school shooting in California history.” And The Post Crescent reports the PP bombing suspect has been identified, found, and arrested.

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Local

Public transit #fail

I’m never riding the bus again, nor recommending it to anybody. I was standing at the stop in front of city hall and the guy didn’t stop for me. He said I was outside the circle of intent even though I was 5′ away from the pole and there was no one else on the whole block. I ran 4 blocks on my sprained ankle to catch the bus at 2nd & Salem and the driver argued with me and said it was my own damn fault for not standing on the curb.

Fortunately it was a shift change or he wouldn’t have let me on.

Never riding the bus again.

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Local

Public transportation is good for your health

So, gas is expensive because Gaddafi won’t leave. I think the liberty of the Libyan people is worth it, however, and I generally get annoyed when the bulk of the media coverage is about money paid for fuel rather than lives paid for liberty. But I was listening to NPR yesterday and they were talking about the benefits of high fuel prices, and it made me want to pick up one of those free bus passes for downtown workers, so I did.

I only fill up the Rabbit once a month, but I think this could in theory save us about $50/mo. I can’t stop at Dutch Bros. on my way to work, so that might help, too. Other benefits of more people using public transportation are supposed to be fewer particulates in the air, and average weight loss of 20 lb. because of the walking to the bus stop part of the equation. Plus I get to sit and play with my iPhone and catch up on the morning’s news.

I started the morning off with a nightmare about missing the bus, in which I ran back and forth between two stops trying to catch the bus instead of just waiting for the next one. When the bus was finally in view, my legs were suddenly paralyzed. Lesson learned from the dream: stay put and wait for the next bus.

In real life, it was harder than it seemed.

Around 8 AM it started storming outside. “This is going to be fun,” I thought. But I wanted to go through with my plans, as a proof-of-concept, to show that this would work for me.

I ended up 20 minutes early to the bus stop, since I read the schedule wrong. It turns out the bus I was aiming for dead-ends on the north end of the route instead of turning around.  It was cold and wet, and the wind blew my umbrella inside out, but I reminded myself people in colder and wetter places use public transportation all the time. Think Portland, Chicago, New York.

The ride was nice enough. The heater was working very well. I got to catch up on some Twitter and Facebook and argue politics with my friends.  Once I got downtown, I realized I had misread the schedule in another regard, as the bus actually stops and sits for a while at the 2nd & Salem transportation center at 9:50 rather than continuing on down Broadway. It took me a few minutes to figure this out, though, and when I did I got off and walked to work from there.  All in all, not a bad start for a transit newb.

Update: The ride home didn’t go as smoothly. Well, the ride was fine from 2nd & Salem, but getting to 2nd & Salem was the hard part. See my follow-up post.

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Local, Parenthood

Cause of death

Action news reported tonight that the coroner’s report was released today. The medical examiner confirmed Lydia Schatz died from rhabdomyolysis resulting from the torture and abuse she suffered at the hands of her parents, who whipped their children with 1/4″ plumbing supply line because it was endorsed by fundamentalist preacher Michael Pearl as the biblical “rod” most appropriate for chastening your children.

Today is Lydia’s 8th birthday. Happy birthday, little one.

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Local, Parenthood

The Devil Who Made Them Do It…

I’ve seen many episodes of Law & Order in which persons in authority or otherwise powerful positions such as authors, preachers, TV & radio personalities, etc., were considered just as responsible as the actual perpetrators who did what they told them to.

My wife found a blog in which a woman was commenting on the Schatz case. This same woman had commented on other cases which bore eerie similarities. Pretty soon, I found more mention of the plastic tubing and the Pearls, and I was able to track down this confession from Debi Pearl, direct from the website of the “ministry” that brought you Train Up a Child:

The rod we speak of is a plumbing supply line that can be bought at any hardware store or large department store. It is a slim, flexible, plastic tubing that supplies water to sinks, and toilets. Ask for “¼-inch supply line.” They cost less than one dollar. I always give myself one swat before I swat the child to remind myself how much force to exert. It stings the skin without bruising or damaging tissue. It’s a real attention-getter. Michael demonstrates its use in our new Seminar videos.

I’ve seen other blogs mention the welts and bruises this device can leave.

I hope Michael Ramsey finds this.

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Local, Parenthood

Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows…

The most in-depth coverage I found so far was posted on the Paradise Post overnight. I have included it below for preservation because the Post seems to have a short news cycle, archiving their articles rather quickly to a section that requires user registration. The good news is that the other child is expected to survive.


Ridge parents arrested in child’s death
By Trevor Warner, Assistant Managing Editor
Posted: 02/09/2010 01:00:00 AM PST

Two Paradise residents were arrested after their 7-year-old adopted child died early Saturday morning.

Kevin Schatz, 46, and Elizabeth Schatz, 42, were booked into Butte County Jail on murder and child abuse charges. Police responded to the 500 block of Crestwood Drive at about 1 a.m. after receiving a report from Elizabeth of a female juvenile who was not breathing. Officers arrived to find the child in full cardiac arrest.

The responding officer, Tim Denecochea, performed CPR and the girl, identified as Lydia Schatz, was transported to Feather River Hospital where she began breathing again with the aid of life support. The girl was to be transferred to Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento via LifeFlight, but bad weather prevented a helicopter from making the flight. Lydia was being rushed by ground to the Chico Municipal Airport to catch a plane but died en route. She was pronounced dead at Enloe Hospital.

Paradise Police Sgt. Steve Rowe confirmed that the girl was allegedly beaten for mispronouncing a word. Police determined the incident was a result of child abuse and upon a follow-up investigation, police discovered an 11-year-old girl, Lydia’s adopted sister, in the same residence with significant injuries. Rowe could not elaborate on the elder girl’s injuries, though he said the girl did not suffer cardiac arrest. He said the girl does have kidney failure and originally was not expected to survive. However, the 11-year-old has improved and is expected to survive, he said. Despite her improved state, Rowe said she is still listed in critical condition.

District Attorney Mike Ramsey said the girls were allegedly beaten with a 15″ piece of flexible plastic tubing commonly found in toilet tanks. There were seven other children in the house—the 3-year-old adopted sister and the Schatz’s six biological children ranging in ages from 8 to 16.

The three adopted children were adopted from the Republic of Liberia in Africa three years ago, said Ramsey. He said authorities are investigating how the adoptions were made and through what agency. The remaining youths were taken into protective custody and released to Child Support Services.

Ramsey said the remaining children have indicated that they sustained similar discipline with similar instruments.

The children were being home schooled and had no affiliation with the Paradise Unified School District. Ramsey said the children were being home schooled through a Christian home school organization. He did not know the name of the organization at press time. There were no reports of prior child abuse history with the family. The incident is still under investigation.

Ramsey said that since this is an alleged homicide, the Schatzes are facing a life sentence. According to a Dec. 2007 Chico Enterprise-Record story, Kevin Schatz set up 50 Internet Wi-Fi locations throughout Paradise and Chico through employment at Community Network Wi-Fi. A Paradise Post interview with the Schatz family in April 2007 indicated the adopted girls were named, from oldest to youngest, Princess, Koko, and Blessing. Princess was 8 years old at the time, Koko—whose name appears to have been changed to Lydia—was 5, and Blessing was three months old. The last time the county saw a case like this was in 1982, when a 3-year-old was beaten to death by the parents, Ramsey said.

He said cases like this are wrenching for everyone involved. The district attorney’s office is assisting police with the investigation. An autopsy will be conducted Wednesday, said Butte County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Dennis Cooley. He said if it is proven that the child died of cardiac arrest, he would have to have a doctor explain how it is possible for a 7-year-old girl to be beaten into a heart attack.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is encouraged to call the Paradise Police Department at 872-6241. The Post will update the story as new information is made available.

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