President Donald Trump has a new favorite doctor.
On July 27, the president and his son Donald Trump, Jr. tweeted a viral video featuring Dr. Stella Immanuel, in which the Houston pediatrician rejected the effectiveness of wearing face masks for preventing the spread of COVID-19 and promoted hydroxychloroquine to treat the disease.
Journalists quickly dug into Immanuel’s background and found that she’s also claimed that having sex with demons can cause illnesses like cysts and endometriosis.
These beliefs don’t come out of thin air, and she’s far from the only person who holds them.
As a scholar of biblical and apocryphal literature, I’ve researched and taught how these beliefs have deep roots in early Jewish and Christian stories – one reason they continue to persist today.
Hints of demons in the Bible
As in many religions, demons in Judaism and Christianity are often evil supernatural beings that torment people.
Although it’s difficult to find a lot of clarity about demons in the Hebrew Bible, many later interpreters have understood demons to be the explanation for the “evil spirit” that haunts King Saul in the first book of Samuel.
Another example appears in the book of Tobit. This work was composed between about 225 and 175 BCE and isn’t included in the Hebrew Bible or accepted by all Christians. But it is considered part of the Bible by religious groups like Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians, Beta Israel and the Assyrian Church of the East.
Tobit includes a narrative about a young woman named Sarah. Although Sarah doesn’t suffer any physical affliction, Asmodeus, the demon of lust, kills every man betrothed to her because of his desire for her.
The Christian gospels are full of stories linking demons and illness, with Jesus and several of his early followers casting out demons who afflict their victims. In one of the most prominent stories told in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus encounters a man possessed by a group of demons who call themselves “Legion” and sends them into a nearby herd of pigs who stampede off a cliff.
Demon lore spreads far and wide
Demons pervade biblical apocrypha, which are stories about biblical subjects that were never included in the canonical Bible and include various associations between demons, illness and sex.
The early Christian text “Acts of Thomas” was likely composed in the third century and became hugely popular, as it was eventually translated into Greek, Arabic and Syriac. It tells the story of the apostle Thomas’ travels to India as an early Christian missionary. Along the way, he encounters a number of obstacles, including people who have been possessed by demons.
In the fifth act, a woman comes to him and pleads for help. She tells the apostle how, one day at the baths, she encountered an old man and talked to him out of pity. But when he propositioned her for sex, she refused and left. Later that night, the demon in the guise of an old man attacked her in her sleep and raped her. Although the woman attempted to escape the demon the next day, he continued to find her and rape her every night, tormenting the woman for five years. Thomas then exorcises the demon.
Another demon story is found in the “Martyrdom of Bartholomew,” which probably dates back to the sixth century. Bartholomew also travels to India, where he finds that the inhabitants of a city worship an idol named Astaroth who has promised to heal all of their illnesses. But Astaroth is actually a demon who causes afflictions that he then pretends to cure in order to gain more followers. Bartholomew reveals the farce and performs several miracles to prove his own spiritual prowess. After forcing the demon to confess to his deceit, Bartholomew drives him into the wilderness.
Apocrypha like the “Acts of Thomas” and “Acts of Bartholomew” were popular in the medieval period, and even those who couldn’t read or write knew these stories. They also helped fuel the “witch craze” of the 16th and 17th centuries, in which zealous Christian leaders persecuted and killed thousands of people – mainly women – for their beliefs, often concocting claims that they consorted with demons.
Beliefs that persist today
It’s clear that Immanuel has profited from her beliefs in the supernatural, especially in right-wing and religious circles. She has over 9,000 followers on Facebook and over 94,000 on Twitter, with a dedicated platform as a pastor. In fact, she casts herself as a prophet and destroyer of demons.
It isn’t difficult to find other modern Christians who connect demons, sex and health issues. The conservative Christian magazine Charisma published a story claiming that sex with demons causes homosexuality. And researchers recently were able to show that belief in supernatural evilcould predict negative attitudes toward abortion, homosexuality, premarital sex, extramarital sex and pornography.
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Meanwhile, many evangelical Americans believe that Trump is God’s chosen one, who has been tasked with fighting actual demons. Trump’s personal minister, Paula White, is just one conservative figure known to espouse these views.
If anything, the coronavirus pandemic has shown how many on the religious right continue to rely on faith over science. Studies have already emerged showing how the tension between faith and science has influenced many conservative Christians to resist the use of masks and other public health responses to the pandemic.
With many conservative Christians sharing some of the same views about demons as Immanuel – and conservative Christians forming a core base of support for the president – Trump’s promotion of the doctor’s beliefs makes perfect sense.
He’s preaching to the choir.
‘Humans are not well-liked’ in ‘Demon town,’ where ‘the most powerful witch on the Boiling Iles’ lives.
Eda the Owl Lady, the most powerful witch on the Boiling Iles, and her young teenage protegeScreenshot: Disney trailer for ‘The Owl House’”
The Disney Channel will premiere a new cartoon – The Owl House – on Friday, January 10, that promises to introduce young viewers to a world of demons and witchcraft.
According to Disney, “The series follows self-assured teenage girl Luz, who discovers a portal to another realm where humans are not well-liked, and she must disguise herself in order to fit in at witch school.”
Disney describes that realm as a “Demon town,” where Luz takes up residence with Eda the Owl Lady, “the most powerful witch on the Boiling Iles.”
Luz declares, “Someday, I’m going to be just like her.”
The visual design of the show is inspired by various European painters such as Hieronymus Bosch, who was best known for his surrealistic depictions of hell.
Show creator Terrace, who first became acquainted with religious painters while growing up in Catholic school, said Bosch’s twisted takes on angels and demons would make for a “cool show in that art style.”
Opening children to demons’ influence ‘will only end in affliction and suffering’
Last month, controversy arose over when major retailers such as Walmart, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble offered a book inviting young children to learn how to summon demons.
Written for 5- to 10-year-olds, A Children’s Book of Demons directs kids to “conjure gentle demons by writing their sigils, which serve as ‘a phone number’ straight to the spirit.”
“As ridiculous as the ‘demons’ contained in the book may be, there is nothing innocent or fun about even pretending to summon evil spirits,” noted Elizabeth Johnston, aka Activist Mommy, on her blog. “But who is to say it is pretend? The spirit world is real and is no laughing matter.”
“It is a sign of the degeneration of our society that making use of demons is considered acceptable, and it manifests ignorance of their malice and desire to do us harm,” renowned exorcist, Fr. Chad Ripperger, told LifeSiteNews. “Books such as these ought to be avoided by parents and children, as they pose a possible opening to demons’ influence in their lives, which will only end in affliction and suffering.”
“Parents would be well warned that it is not something ‘silly,’ but contrary to the proper formation of their children,” he continued. “Opening up children to this at a young age will often place the child in a mindset that diabolic influence of demons in his life is not something serious or to be avoided.”
While The Owl House has not yet premiered, The Disney Channel has already signed on for a second season of the show to be produced.
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A Presbyterian minister in New Jersey is accused of sexually assaulting several parishioners under the guise of exorcising evil spirits.
Three men have come forward claiming Rev. Dr. William Weaver performed sex acts on them when they came to him for private counseling at Linden Presbyterian Church. Weaver, 69, would allegedly tell the men that he needed to “suck” out demons through their semen, citing Native American rituals and a verse from Ephesians telling Christians to “put on the full armor of God.”
Three men and one woman have filed suit against former minister William Weaver, claiming he sexually assaulted them under the guise of performing Native American exorcism rituals.GETTY IMAGES
According to impact statements the men submitted to the Presbytery of Elizabeth, which has jurisdiction over the church in Linden, Weaver would order each to strip naked and lie down. Then he would place an “angel coin” on their foreheads and have them balance stones on their hands and ankles.
Weaver would then allegedly perform oral sex on them.
Another man, Jared Staunton, said that after his assault, Weaver “lifted my head up and looked into my eyes, and said, ‘You don’t have to be afraid anymore, I’m your protector now.'”
With that, Staunton said, the minister kissed him on the lips.
In addition to working at Linden Presbyterian for 39 years, Weaver also served as chaplain for the local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans Association. Audrey Pereira, a representative for the chapter, described him as “a Jekyll and Hyde.”
“He did good on one hand,” she told My Central Jersey. “On the other hand, he did this evil to who knows how many. It can’t just have been these guys. There has to be more.”
Linden Presbyterian Church in Linden, New Jersey.GOOGLE EARTH
An investigation by the Presbytery found credible evidence of “multiple acts of idolatry and sexual misconduct.” It also reportedly uncovered gay porn on a church-owned computer in Weaver’s office.
A church trial was set to start on January 25, but Weaver renounced the Presbytery and its jurisdiction the day before. He has subsequently moved to a gated retirement community in Lakewood, about an hour away from Linden.
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From skinny dippers to people who have actual intercourse with nature, ecosexuality is a growing movement taking a new approach to combatting climate change.
And they may be right. Jennifer Reed, a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is writing a dissertation on ecosexuality, and says that the number of people who identify as ecosexuals has increased markedly in the past two years. And Google search data confirms that interest in the term has spiked dramatically over the past year. We may look back on 2016 as the year ecosexuality hit the mainstream.
Ecosexuality is a term with wide-ranging definitions, which vary depending on who you ask.
A participant at the Ecosexual Bathhouse by the art group Pony Express. Photo by Matt Sav
Amanda Morgan, a faculty member at the UNLV School of Community Health Sciences who is involved in the ecosexual movement, says that ecosexuality could be measured in a sense not unlike the Kinsey Scale: On one end, it encompasses people who try to use sustainable sex products, or who enjoy skinny dipping and naked hiking. On the other are “people who roll around in the dirt having an orgasm covered in potting soil,” she said. “There are people who fuck trees, or masturbate under a waterfall.”
The movement’s growing prominence owes much to the efforts of Bay Area performance artists, activists, and couple Annie Sprinkle and Elizabeth Stephens, who have made ecosexuality a personal crusade. They have published an “ecosex manifesto” on their website SexEcology and produced several films on the theme, including a documentary, Goodbye Gauley Mountain: An Ecosexual Love Story, which depicts the “pollen-amorous” relationship between them and the Appalachian Mountains. And while touring a theater piece across the country, Dirty Sexecology: 25 Ways to Make Love to the Earth, they’ve officiated wedding ceremonies where they and fellow ecosexuals marry the earth, the moon, and other natural entities.
Sprinkle and Stephens talk openly about ecosexuality as a new form of sexual identity. At last year’s San Francisco Pride Parade, they led a contingent of over a hundred ecosexuals in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to “officially” add an E to the LGBTQI acronym; Stephens told Outside that they believe there are now at least 100,000 people around the world who openly identify as ecosexuals.
According to Reed’s research, the term “ecosexuality” has existed since the early 2000s, when it started appearing as a self-description on online dating profiles. It wasn’t until 2008 that it began its evolution toward a fully fledged social movement, when Sprinkle and Stephens began officiating ecosexual weddings. The two artists had been active in the marriage equality movement, and they wanted to harness that energy for environmental causes. Stephens has said that their aim was to reconceptualize the way we look at the earth, from seeing the planet as a mother to seeing it as a lover.
Also in 2008, Stefanie Iris Weiss, a writer and activist based in New York, began researching her book Eco-sex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable, published in 2010. Weiss, who was at that time unaware of Sprinkle and Stephens’s work, initially lent the idea a more practical, literal focus, with research revealing the harmful environmental impact of materials used in condoms, lubes, and other sex products upon both our bodies and the planet. She said that she wrote the book to help people make their sex lives “more carbon neutral and sustainable,” and to help us avoid polluting our bodies when we have sex.
The desire for safer and more sustainable sex products remains an important part of the ecosexual movement, and Weiss said that green options for consumers when it comes to sex products have increased dramatically since she wrote her book. But she has also happily embraced Sprinkle and Stephens’s more holistic take on ecosexuality, immediately recognizing in their efforts a shared goal: to help people reconnect with nature, and with their own bodies.
Reed said that ecosexuality is different from other social movements in that it focuses on personal behavior and pleasure rather than protests or politics. She said that some people within the environmental movement have kept their distance from it for this reason. But ecosexual activists interviewed for this story all insist they have a serious goal at heart. As Morgan said, thinking about the earth as a lover is the first step toward taking the environmental crisis seriously. “If you piss off your mother, she’s probably going to forgive you. If you treat your lover badly, she’s going to break up with you.”
At the same time, the sense of levity that characterizes works such as the bathhouse or Sprinkle and Stephens’s performances is an integral part of the movement. Morgan describes ecosexuality as a means of moving beyond the “depressing Al Gore stuff” that people often associate with environmentalism. Her hope, and that of other ecosexuals such as Weiss and Kronemyer, is that it can gives the average person a way of engaging with the issue that is accessible and fun, and that creates a sense of hopefulness.
Morgan and Weiss both say that they also see sex as a potentially powerful tool for motivating people to make the environment a priority. As Weiss put it: “If you’re running from floods, you won’t have any time for sex.”
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HIGHLAND TWP. (WXYZ) — It’s a video of the unknown that is posing many questions – What is it? Is it real? And what is it doing there?
A family in Highland Michigan believes their house is haunted and what’s even more disturbing is that whatever is haunting the home is doing harm to their little girl.
Heather Brough and Joshua Higgins say they couldn’t believe what they saw on their nanny cam.
“It’s almost like she sees something that we don’t,” Heather Brough said.
It’s an image Heather and Josh say is haunting their home.
“It was chilling,” Joshua said. “It was literally a chill down your spin, like that ‘what if’ factor – Is this what I just saw?”
Caught on the couples nanny cam video a few weeks ago is what appears to be something moving in front of the baby crib. The couple says it appears to be a ghost.
“I freaked out,” Brough said. “I stopped what I was doing and I ran upstairs and grabbed my daughter.”
Heather says this so called ghost scratched her daughter Lily and attacked her too.
“It scares us that it could do something else,” Brough said. “I mean, there was a morning I woke up and I felt like someone’s hands were around my neck.”
A team of paranormal investigators came in and tried to answer some of the couples questions and concerns. Josh’s father Jim says it may be someone who lived in this house before.
“The gentleman that lived here originally committed suicide apparently by jumping out this window, which is one story down,” said Joshua’s father Jim Higgins, while recalling a story he was told about the home.
The couple says they don’t know why this so called ghost is targeting them, but say they don’t want any part of it.
“It’s not physically just going after her, it feels like it’s going after myself too,” Brough said.
“I couldn’t get an explanation out of it so it’s freaky is what it is,” Higgins said.
Josh and Heather say for now they are staying at the home in a room together with Lily, until they have enough money to move.
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Like eating Tide Pods and snorting condoms, the Momo challenge is a viral hoax.
On Tuesday afternoon, a Twitter user going by the name of Wanda Maximoff whipped out her iPhone and posted a terrifying message to parents.
“Warning! Please read, this is real,” she tweeted. “There is a thing called ‘Momo’ that’s instructing kids to kill themselves,” the attached screenshot of a Facebook post reads. “INFORM EVERYONE YOU CAN.”
Maximoff’s plea has been retweeted more than 22,000 times, and the screenshot, featuring the creepy face of “Momo,” has spread like wildfire across the internet. Local news hopped on the story Wednesday, amplifying it to millions of terrified parents. Kim Kardashian even posted a warning about the so-called Momo challenge to her 129 million Instagram followers.
To any concerned parents reading this: Do not worry. The “Momo challenge” is a recurring viral hoax that has been perpetuated by local news stations and scared parents around the world. This entire cycle of shock, terror, and outrage about Momo even took place before, less than a year ago: Last summer, local news outlets across the country reported that the Momo challenge was spreading among teens via WhatsApp. Previously, rumors about the challenge spread throughout Latin America and Spanish-speaking countries.
The Momo challenge wasn’t real then, and it isn’t real now. YouTube confirmed that, contrary to press reports, it hasn’t seen any evidence of videos showing or promoting the “Momo challenge” on its platform. If the videos did exist, a spokesperson for YouTube said, they would be removed instantly for violating the platform’s policies. Additionally, there have been zero corroborated reports of any child ever taking his or her own life after participating in this phony challenge.
A lot of this relies on people believing their local school or police force knows what they’re talking about when it comes to the internet. Unfortunately most don’t have a clue and are sending letters to parents warning of non-existent issues like YouTube videos being “hacked”.
— Jim Waterson (@jimwaterson) February 28, 2019
“Momo” itself is an innocuous sculpture created by the artist Keisuke Aisawa for the Japanese special-effects company Link Factory. The real title of the artwork is Mother Bird, and it was on display at Tokyo’s horror-art Vanilla Gallery back in 2016. After some Instagram photos of the exhibit were posted to the subreddit Creepy, it spread, and the “Momo challenge” urban legend was born.
For parents today, it can seem like the internet has endless ways of trying to kill your children or persuading your children to kill themselves. The so-called Blue Whale challenge supposedly asked kids to complete a series of tasks that culminated in suicide. The trend later turned out to be a hoax. Local news has warned about recent “crazes” like teens eating toxic Tide Pods (they weren’t), or potentially choking to death while snorting condoms for YouTube views (no deaths have been reported). Even the cinnamon challenge could supposedly kill you.
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A key committee in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is moving to eliminate the God reference from the oath administered to witnesses testifying before the panel, as part of a new rules package expected to be approved this week, according to a draft obtained exclusively by Fox News.
The draft shows that the House Committee on Natural Resources would ask witnesses to recite only, “Do you solemnly swear or affirm, under penalty of law, that the testimony that you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”
The rules proposal places the words “so help you God” in red brackets, indicating they are slated to be cut. The words “under penalty of law” are in red text, indicating that Democrats propose to add that phrasing to the oath.
The draft rules also remove the phrase “his or her” throughout the document, changing those two pronouns to “their.” The rules additionally modify all references to the committee’s “Chairman” to instead refer only to the committee’s “Chair.”
Other rules changes relate to expanding the committee’s authority over natural gas in Alaska and fossil-fuel resources.
While many federal oaths include the phrase “so help me God,” some — most notably the presidential oath of office — do not.
The full committee is set to vote on the new language this week, and the rules would take effect immediately if adopted. Other committees were still in the process of finalizing their rules on Monday.
“They really have become the party of Karl Marx.”
Republican leaders reacted with dismay to the proposed change, and suggested it was a sign of the Democratic Party’s leftward shift.
“It is incredible, but not surprising, that the Democrats would try to remove God from committee proceedings in one of their first acts in the majority,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., told Fox News. “They really have become the party of Karl Marx.”
Spokespeople for the Natural Resources Committee did not immediately reply to Fox News’ requests for comment. The committee, which has oversight of national parks, wildlife and energy, is chaired by Democratic Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva.
The proposed change was not the first time Democrats have sought to strike references to God in official party documents. In 2012, the floor of the Democratic National Convention erupted over a sudden move to restore to the platform a reference to God and recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — after heavy criticism from Republicans for initially omitting them. Democrats, though, were hardly in agreement over the reversal.
A large and loud group of delegates shouted “no” as the convention chairman (then-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa) called for the vote. Villaraigosa had to call for the vote three times before ruling that the “ayes” had it. Many in the crowd booed after he determined the language would be restored.
Hard-left Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar is facing backlash and accusations of homophobia after repeating baseless allegations pushed by MSNBC and liberal activists that South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is being blackmailed into supporting President Trump. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
The battle marked the biggest platform fight in either party’s convention, and signaled Democrats were worried the prior language could have been politically damaging in a tight election year.
A senior campaign official told Fox News at the time that then-President Barack Obama personally intervened to change the language in both cases. On the God reference, the official said the president’s response was, “Why did it change in the first place?”
The House panel’s proposed change comes as far-left progressive Democratic freshman in Congress, including Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota Ilhan Omar, have come under fire from Republicans for pushing what they call radical and unfounded religious-based attacks.
Omar, for example, wrote in 2012 that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” Tlaib was accused of engaging in an anti-Semitic slur earlier this month by suggesting Republican politicians were truly loyal to Israel, not the United States.
Omar and Tlaib made history by becoming the first-ever Muslim women in Congress.
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The gay agenda is to convince the heterosexual majority that there are no appreciable differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals. We are to believe that sexual preference is merely a personal choice with no broader ramifications for society. The choice of a sexual partner or partners is supposed to be as innocuous as choosing a flavor of ice cream. The inescapable corollary is that any biases against homosexuality are necessarily irrational.
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Allowing disgruntled staff to stab voodoo dolls of their boss could help them feel less resentful and improve the quality of their work, a new study has suggested.
According to the Health and Safety Executive, more than 12 million Britons are forced to take time off work each year because of stress and anxiety, often caused by pressure from overbearing or abusive managers.
But rather than allowing staff to brood over their mistreatment, which can be detrimental to work, business experts have suggested they should be allowed to take out their anger on voodoo dolls.
A study of 229 workers in the US and Canada found that engaging in ‘symbolic retaliation’ lowered feelings of injustice by one third.
Although revenge is often viewed negatively, the researchers say the findings highlight ‘the largely overlooked benefit of retaliation from the victim’s perspective.’
Assistant Professor Dr Lindie Liang, of Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario Canada said voodoo dolls could help staff
“As weird as it sounds, yes,” she said “We found a simple and harmless symbolic act of retaliation can make people feel like they’re getting even and restoring their sense of fairness.
“It may not have to be a voodoo doll per se: theoretically anything that serves as a symbolic act of retaliation, like throwing darts at a picture of your boss, might work.
Symbolically retaliating against an abusive boss can benefit employees psychologically by allowing them to restore their sense of justice in the workplace.”
The participants in the study used an online voodoo doll programme created by Dumb.com, which allows users to name the effigy after their boss, and sticking it with pins, burn it with a candle, and pinch it with pliers.
Although voodoo dolls are often linked to Africa and the Americas in popular fiction, early records suggest they have their origins in the British medieval period, when people would make rag dolls or sculptures of witches – called poppetts – and pierce them with pins to inflict harm or break an enchantment.
The dolls were later mistakenly linked with Afro-Caribbean Voodoo or Vodou.
The report authors decided to embark on the study because previous research suggested that people who feel they have been treated unfairly will lash out at their abuser, but it can spark a spiral of retaliation and counter-retaliation which is detrimental in the long term.
“We wanted to see, rather than actually retaliating against the abusive boss, whether mistreated employees could benefit from harmless acts of symbolic retaliation,” added Dr Liang.
For the study, the participants were asked to recall and visualise a workplace interaction which had involved abuse from a supervisor. Some were then asked to retaliate using a voodoo doll, before all completed a task to fill in the blanks to complete words.
Those who had been allowed to stick pins in their virtual boss were far less likely to still feel bitter, and were also better at completing the word exercise.
In a paper in the journal The Leadership Quarterly, the authors conclude: “These findings suggest that retaliation not only benefits individual victims, but may also benefit the organization as a whole, given that justice perceptions is important for employee performance and well-being.”
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