Why I Liked Being Jewish at an All-Boys Catholic School

Categories: Religion, Whatever

Photo courtesy of Aaron Reiss

The locker my freshman year at St. Thomas High School was on the second floor of the main building, 50 feet from a chapel where Mass was celebrated before every school day. The walls along the hallways were filled, floor-to-ceiling with lockers. Freshmen got the lower ones. I had to get on my knees to get my books out of my creaky, cream gray locker.

Next to me was a kid named Jack Reidy. He was one of those guys who went through puberty in sixth grade and dominated the middle school athletics scene.

Everyday, I'd squat down to access my locker and have to shift my weight as Jack's huge ass blocked part of my locker. I didn't say anything about it to him for the first couple months of school because he was massive, and if sitcoms were anything like real high school, he would have kicked my ass.

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Houston Mosque Will Ball Hard for Palestine

Photo provided by Amir Hossain
Hossain translates his 16 year passion for basketball into humanitarian aid

In case you didn't know, Houston is home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the country and the city is home to a network of mosques and religious centers run by the Islamic Society of Greater Houston.

Houstonian Amir Hossain is part of this American-Muslim community. He wants to use his love for basketball to build unity and support a cause that helps people in the Middle East.

During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Hossain is kicking off a charity basketball tournament called Hoop4Palestine. "Basketball teaches Islam in its own creative way by promoting companionship," Hossain said. "[It allows] kids to learn how to work together in a peaceful manner to achieve something."

Muslims around the city are currently participating in the holy month of Ramadan, fasting from sunrise to sundown every day until the end of July.

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Mayor Annise Parker Looks Forward to Tossing Out Anti-HERO Petition

Photo by Susan Du
Mayor Annise Parker greets fellow HERO supporters at City Hall on Thursday before her address responding to a petition submitted for repeal of the anti-discrimination law.

Mayor Annise Parker's seen some shit, least of which are sloppy petitions.

Opponents of Houston's newly passed anti-discrimination law submitted a petition to repeal it in the 11th hour today, boasting 50,000 signatures for a measure that only required about 17,000. The mayor responded in an announcement at City Hall that she's looking forward to throwing out a high number of them in the counting process.

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Now What Happens to All Those Anti-HERO Shirts?

Photo by Aaron Reiss

They said no. They screamed it.

Protesters yelled in front of city hall Wednesday, in opposition of legislation for a Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

"We say no," the protesters repeated.

A few women, serving as reverb, chanted "God says no."

ERO adorned their chests, thick red slashes cutting through acronym. The shirts sold for $5.

The cheap price wasn't enough to attract much of a market. Though most of the anti-HERO protesters wore the t-shirts - the number of people was closer to 50 than to 100 - there were three boxes filled with shirts.

And soon, the shirts would be of no use. City Council passed the HERO with a 11-6 vote.

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Hucksters and Texas Tent Revival Politics

Photo by J E Theriot
No keeping religious talk out of Texas politics.
Religious liberty is at the very heart of what it means to be an American, yet Texas conservatives and our state's activist pastors have conveniently forgotten that.

Lately, it feels as if Texas is waging some sort of religious war on a number of different fronts.

Throughout history, politicians have embedded a few religious references in their speeches, but nothing close to what we're seeing lately. Beginning in earnest with Ronald Reagan's nomination in 1980 and continued by Bill Clinton, "Religispeak" has evolved into a must-have tool for every conservative's campaign rhetoric and policy effort.

In the same way that sex sells in the media, politicians discovered that religion does also.

It was last fall when Tom Delay's conviction was overturned and an article in the Dallas Morning News quoted him as saying God is calling him to lead a constitutional revival. He referred to his legal battle and sentencing as his "time in the wilderness."

And then...he remarked how glad he would be to get his concealed carry license back.

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Street Preacher Responds to UH Students Who Compare His Church to Westboro Baptist

Categories: Religion

It's about free speech, ya'll.
If you're an abortion advocating-atheist-transgender person, David Stokes probably hates you. Actually, to be more accurate, Stokes probably wants to save you. He'll gladly share this with you on a sign that might say you're going to hell, too.

The self-proclaimed street preacher took it to the University of Houston in a letter to the editor published yesterday on thedailycougar.com, after a student journalist compared his Bulldog Ministries with Westboro Baptist Church. In case you missed it, the head of that church, the hate spewing anti-gay preacher Fred Phelps Sr. died last month.

The Daily Cougar had the March 24 article headlined "Phelps' death calls for reflection on local campus bigots." Big points for localizing a national story. Bulldog Ministries has been a presence on campus for at least a couple of years, angering some student organizations, particularly the campus' LGBT group. But, according to Stokes' letter, his is another variety of anti-gay religious rhetoric.

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Accused Killers Giving Satan Worship a Bad Name

Categories: Crime, Religion

Photo by Steve Snodgrass

God is good, and for some Satan is too.

Satanists don't deserve the bad rap they're getting after the recent news linking accused killers to the Prince of Darkness. The words "satanic ritual murder" or "occult killing" set off alarms in God-fearing people, and that's probably why prosecutors and the media run with it.

This hit home when two Harris County teens were charged with capital murder last week in what the Chronicle referred to as an "occult killing". Other news outlets headlined it "deal with the devil" or "ritual murder".

John Jordan of the Harris County DA's office is working the case and says that Jose E. Reyes, 17, allegedly talked a 16-year-old into joining him in killing schoolmate Corriann Cervantes. The younger kid wanted to join Reyes in a deal with the devil. Cervantes,15, was mutilated, strangled and raped. Authorities said there was an upside-down cross carved on her belly.

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Gunning for Theocratic Vote, Dan Patrick Bent on Forcing Christ Back into Texas Politics

Theocracy is a good look on you, senator.
There's a saying, often attributed to novelist Sinclair Lewis, that can sum certain strains on the American right: "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and waving a cross." And while the phrase always comes across as a bit screechy -- we've spent 237 years swearing in on a Bible, with little fascism to show for it -- there's no secret that the recent surge of both the Tea Party and the congressional and statewide GOP numbers has coincided with a lurch toward supporting purportedly Biblical ideals. Wherever Jesus, that Middle Eastern socialist, may be, it seems many within the right-wing resurgence believe his time is best spent bandying bills and filibusters with the rest of us.

While Gov. Rick Perry generally draws the most national attention for his insistence on conflating religion and state -- only so many states can pray for rain with a straight face -- there's one official in Texas who has been more effusive with his desire to graft his Bible-thumpin' into our state Legislature. And after throwing his hat into the lieutenant governor's race, it seems state Sen. Dan Patrick is seeking to take his theocratic ways to higher office.

A new post from Patrick last week only helped solidify him as the theocratic choice and pushed him that much closer to Sinclair's thoughts on flags and fascism:

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I.V. Hilliard: Pastor Asks Congregation to Finance New Helicopter Blades

Categories: Religion

What would Jesus fly? Airwolf. He'd fly motherfucking Airwolf.
Just imagine how many more souls Jesus Christ could have saved if he had a helicopter. That would've cut the commute from Tiberias to Jericho by at least a fortnight. So there's no reason that, in 2013, a preacher of the gospel shouldn't be able to spread the word as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Enter Bishop I.V. Hilliard of Houston's New Light Christian Center, who's asking his flock to kick in $52 a piece to help pay for new helicopter blades. Strangely enough, the recommendation for a blade "upgrade" did not come from On High, but from the church's "Aviation Department," which we assume is adjacent to the "Bling Unit."

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Governor Perry Signs Bill Allowing Teachers and Students to Say "Merry Christmas"

Categories: Courts, Religion

Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor
Last December, Houston Representative Dwayne Bohac picked up his son from first grade and asked what he'd done in class. His son answered that they'd decorated their "holiday tree" with "holiday ornaments."

This concerned Bohac. "Why do we call it a holiday tree at school, but a Christmas tree at home?" Bohac said.

When he expressed his sentiments to the school district office, he was told the school didn't use terms such as "Christmas" because they were fearful of litigation.

This inspired Bohac to draft House Bill 308, legislation that allows students and teachers to wish each other a "Merry Christmas," "Happy Hanukkah" or (the pretty secular) "Happy Holidays" and to provide teachers the opportunity to educate students on the history of traditional winter holidays.

Governor Rick Perry signed what has become known as the "Merry Christmas bill" last week. In addition to permitting holiday greetings, the legislation also says that schools are allowed to display scenes or symbols associated with winter holidays on school property, such as a Christmas tree or a menorah, as long as there is at least one other religious or secular symbol present as well.

The fact that no one -- no child, no teen, no grown-up -- has ever been sued in Texas for saying "Merry Christmas" apparently didn't lessen any of the glow of this special moment or the driving force behind this bill.

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