Church banned from advertising miracles

No MiraclesSouth Africa’s Advertising Standards Authority has told The Christ Embassy Church to stop making claims on national television that it can treat diseases such as AIDS through faith healing. “The ruling came after the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), South Africa’s main HIV/AIDS lobby group, filed a complaint against the church, which has paid programming on the private channel featuring people recounting how they have been cured by Christ Embassy.”

How would the ASA rule on other miracles? Can a church say that it will provide you eternal salvation? Forgive your sins? Make you one with the universe? Have interesting sermons? Once you get rid of miracles what else does a religion have to sell?

Really, if the US stopped companies from advertising miracles it would kill the beer and diet commercials immediately. It wouldn’t stop there, either. Any number of film directors would no longer be able to claim their movies were “good.”

The other fascinating thing in this is, “What is a commercial?” What if a religion simply broadcast religious services? This is a very germane question. Last year,

the ASA ruled that the content of the Christ Embassy television show was not an advertisement, but sponsored programming, and it therefore did not have jurisdiction over its content. The TAC then appealed, which led to the ASA ruling that found the programme to be: an advertisement, as defined by ASA’s code; promoting faith as a means to cure illness or disease; promoting Christ Embassy as the place to seek this cure, and; violating ASA’s code because it offers a product to cure a disease for which it has not received Medicines Control Council registration.

The church would be appealing on the grounds that the television programme was not an advertisement and that the church did not intend registering with the Medical and Dental Council. "The product is called faith," [Attorney Sean] Sim told the Mail & Guardian.

Art by Nathan Coley



This year is the second time I have celebrated this great and glorious holiday.

cheeseDeep in the dark, deep, dank mists of time, the Cheese Weasel emerged, but he didn’t really do much until the early 90s, since the other celebratory animals called dibs on the the splashier holidays. Eventually, the Weasel realized that this was all to the good, as he felt his calling. Now, he travels the world, leaving a bit of cheese under keyboards on the 3rd day of the 4th month. Kraft Singles are the Cheese Weasel’s cheese of choice, but he has been known to branch out into cheddar, and sometimes a nice Gruyere.

What about Wensleydale, chuck? BTW, check out the site for the theme song as well. It’s full of weaselly cheesy goodness.

Here’s how I marked the occasion last year — delivering these fine treats and cards to bewildered staff and students at the Atrium School:

Here are the lyrics to our anthem:

“Who brings the cheese on April 3rd?
The Cheese Weasel
He’s not a silly bunny or a raindeer or a bird,
He’s the Cheese Weasel
He’s got a cute black tail
And tiny buck teeth
He doesn’t bring fish, and he
Doesn’t bring beef
So you’d better be good if you wanna get some cheese
From the Cheese Weasel.”

Congrats to for having at least three typos in fewer than 200 words.

Press release of the day: “Intelligent Design Rocks”

UK rock phenomenon “The V-Rats” have now launched their new album “Intelligent Design.” … The V-Rats are now embarking in 2008 to 2009 on a series of live shows across the globe to promote Intelligent Design which is gaining great reviews from the all aspects of the Christian and secular media and looks set to be one of the “must have” albums for 2008.

It’s like School House Rock minus the whole facts and education thing.

Iran blames Barbie for undermining traditional values

The top prosecutor for the Iranian Republic says that Barbie, Batman, Spiderman and Harry Potter are all conspiring to subvert the youth of today.

Ghorban Ali Dori Najafabad said Iran was the world’s third biggest importer of toys and suggested this posed a threat to the “personality and identity” of the new generation. “The unrestrained entry of this sort of imported toys … will bring destructive cultural and social consequences in their wake,” he wrote. He added many toys were smuggled into Iran and accused importers of concentrating on profits at the expense of cultural values.

Man, this puts me in a bind. While I am certainly down with Bats, Spidey and Mr. Potter, I have always been troubled by Barbie. While the original (right) was a human shape and had a fairly sassy look in her eyes, later models became the absurd and subservient creature we all know today. However compared to more recent hyper-sexualized dolls like Bratz, she is positively demure and the personification of feminism. (Feminism (noun), a set of beliefs predicated on the notion that women are people too.)

Given that I guess I’m cool with Barbie doing a little subverting of one gender stereotype by displaying another one. It kind of reminds me of Slavenka Draculic’s wonderful book How We Survived Communism And Even Laughed. In it she writes about her feminist friends in the West would be shocked when Draculic, a Yugoslavian back when that meant something, would visit them and wear lipstick and frou-frou clothes. They saw this as acquiescing to a stereotype. For Draculic it was just the opposite. These things allowed her to assert her individuality while living in a nation that was trying to eliminate the individual. I suspect Ms. Draculic would (or does) approve of Barbie as revolutionary.

And, can I just say that if your belief system can be subverted by Barbie et al., then it really doesn’t have much of grasp on its audience.

I love the fact that this came from the Iran’s top prosecutor. How absurd is that? I mean can you imagine the US attorney general doing something similar? Like covering the breasts of a statue of blind justice because of its threat to the nations morals? Oh wait, never mind …

Talk to God via the interweb! is a site that purports to let you publicly post your prayers to “Jesus, Allah, Buddha or simply a spiritual universal energy.” Or, in the site’s words: “Dear God is a global project for people around the world to share their innermost hopes – and fears – through prayer.”

So apparently people are posting their prayers here and other people post responses. (I say “apparently” and “purports” not because I have any reason to doubt the site’s veracity but because I am one cynical MoFo.)

Today’s prayers include:

  • Protect Them From Those Who Would Tell Them That They Can’t Make It.
  • My Girlfriend Had An Abortion Last Month.
  • I’m A Christian And My Sex Life Sucks (complete with NSFW picture)
  • So What’s The Deal God? Are You Angry? Is It Something We Did Or Didn’t Do?
  • Can A Political Action Be The Same As A Moral One?
  • Please Just Help Me To Become The Person I Used To Be.

As someone who is a daily practitioner of prayer and very devout in my own peculiar faith, it would be hypocritical of me to mock this site. Who am I to say that posting here is any more or less effective than any other mode of prayer? I suspect even if you do not believe in He/She/They/It you would be hard pressed not to be at least interested in the compassion and questions of the site’s users.

That said, the site is not without its amusing touches. Some are intentional and some are not. Among the intentional funny things are offers to let you “Get on God’s Mailing List,” “Email In/Send It To The Big Guy” and you can subscribe to the feed via a link that reads: “RSS – Fed From Above.”

Among the unintentional amusements are:

“Share your prayers here and help us create hope one prayer at a time. Simply send us your personal letter to your God and/or a picture that sums up your message visually. (Dear God will source a picture if you don’t have one).” emphasis mine

Dear God, please source me a picture. I am imageless and alone….

And, because no good deed should be offered without a chance at renumeration, there is a form to fill out if you are interested in advertising opportunities at

P&G? Exxon? The Onion? UNICEF? Who exactly would put this in their media buying plan?

Image courtesy

Vatican bumps DC subway ad with bobblehead pope

The DC subway system ran an ad featuring a bobblehead version of Pope Benedict. The ad was an effort to get fans of his Holiness to take the train when Benedict comes to town next week. (He’s not coming to Boston. “It’s not a big college town.”) The ad is fun. As the plastic Pontiff rides the train, a man seated next to him chants IN LATIN, “Thank heaven for Metro.”

Later, the narrator says, “Avoid the unholy traffic and take Metro.”

Here is the amazing quote from the story:

Our concern is that this was a bad bobblehead,” said Susan Gibbs, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington. “You had unauthorized merchandise, and you had a misdressed pope.”

Apparently the Vatican views selling bad bobbleheads in the same light as Martin Luther once viewed selling papal indulgences.

Good news for the Metro is that this GUARANTEES the video gets more views than it would have otherwise.

Pope Bobblehead the FirstBTW, the misdressing?

The bobblehead in the Metro video wears a red skull cap, known as a zucchetto, and a red cape. “Popes don’t wear red skull caps,” and they don’t wear red capes, only white ones, Gibbs said.

Well, EXCUUUUUUUUUUSE ME. Who died and made you Pope? Oh, wait, never mind that last one.

Go here if you want to order your own incorrect version of Pope Bobblehead the First.

(Insert contractually obligated mention of my attempt to get my copy of Lives of the Popes back from Churbuck here.)

Five things I DON’T want to find under the Christmas tree

mitten1) The Smoking Mitten: This innovative design from Tobias Wong utilises a metal ringlet perfectly placed and sized to hold your cigarette in the optimum smoking position.2) Designer Ice Cubes: “It’s ice is supposedly of such a high quality, that it comes in a resealable bag, to keep it fresh and pure in your freezer.

3) Wooden Cross USB Memory Strap: What would Jesus store? I don’t know but apparently He can only hold 2GB of info. So much for being infinite.

4) CrustaStun: This allegedly more humane way to kill crustaceans lets you put the shelled creature into a shallow bath of brine, close the lid and then VOILA! the critters get an electric current that promises “to produce an instant anesthesia and eventually death.” [Note to self: Insert joke about adoption by the state of Texas here.]


5) A Crayon-branded beverage: I hope they taste better as a liquid than they did when I ate them as a kid.

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Jesus is still hot … in chocolate, plastic, CDs and Elvis

In case you had any doubts JC the First is still a bankable concept for moving product.

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The one true Jesus MP3 player has been revealed

Cross MP3 playerYou can have your Jesus Phone, from now on I will be listening to all my stolen gospel music on this. HA HA. Special props to OhGizmo for dubbing it the iJesus. BTW, the iJesus is very affordable: 4GB for only $48. Discounts if you buy enough for the whole flock.

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Sex, violence and religion: Churches use Halo 3 and porn to attract customers

Everyone else is doing it, so why not them?

The computer game Halo is hot so:

Acts of GodAcross the country, hundreds of ministers and pastors desperate to reach young congregants have drawn concern and criticism through their use of an unusual recruiting tool: the immersive and violent video game Halo.

Pornography, of course, is always popular so:

The Crux, a Fishers church, joined a nationwide movement Sunday to address the issue, a day they called “Porn Sunday,” WRTV-TV in Indianapolis reported. Across the country, hundreds of churches talked about what some call America’s dirty little secret. An estimated 40 million people visit porn sites daily, generating an estimated $6.2 billion for porn purveyors in the United States alone, according to Porn Sunday’s organizers. Porn Sunday is a movement started by two pastors from California who formed a church called, dubbed a Christian porn site.

And to think people once got upset because Vatican II switched the Catholic Church from Latin to the vernacular. (Cue Tom Lehrer.) All of this goes a long way to explain why the Night of Joy Christian music event at Walt Disney World is considered the rowdiest, most debauched event in the Happiest Place on Earth:

. . . some who have attended previous NOJ festivals, as well as Cast Members who’ve worked it, claim that of all the separate-ticket events held at the Magic Kingdom, it’s the most unruly. Tales abound of the Magic Kingdom overrun by mobs of drunken teens, petty thievery in the shops, as well as an overworked security dealing with fights among the crowds of young concert attendees.

(Maybe it’s just the context but doesn’t Night of Joy sound a little dirty?)

It’s actually disingenuous of me to criticize this behavior. I mean if you read the source material … aka The BIBLE … it’s just filled with this stuff.

But that’s all in the Old (fun) Testament, the New Testament’s stories offer far less in the way of how people do act and more in the way of how it is hoped they will act. Because of this I think it’s OK for Catholic Bishops in Belgium to complain about a TV ad depicting a pot-bellied, hippy Jesus performing miracles and picking up scantily-clad girls up in a nightclub.

God Ad

According to the texts I’ve read (and I haven’t finished The Gnostic Gospels yet) while Jesus did meet “fallen women” he put a premium on helping them back up. It’s important to show the full story.

(Acts of God image courtesy of which has a bunch of other funny God cards.)

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