Tag: religion

Top 12 Coronavirus outbreaks in Grand Junction all traced to churches

Mesa County Public Health Department’s Feb. 5 list of Coronavirus outbreak sites

As predicted in this blog in early January, Grand Junction churches became super spreaders after they started holding in-person services again January 3rd.

Churches resumed holding indoor, in-person services and other activities after the state declared on December 7th, 2020 that churches are “critical services” and eliminated the cap on the number of people who could attend.

People started packing churches again in early January.

Backsliding

As of today, all twelve of the top outbreak sites on Mesa County Public Health Department’s Covid-19 outbreak list are churches. The daily case count reached into the triple digits again yesterday after weeks of two-digit number daily case counts.

Holy Superspreader! G.J. churches hold in-person services, draw crowds on first Sunday of 2021

Fellowship Church on 24 road near I-70 on Sunday morning, 1/3/21

On December 7, Colorado changed its list of “critical services” as defined by the pandemic to include “houses of worship,” eliminating the cap on the number of people who can attend religious services in person. As a result, local churches are wasting no time packing people back in to in-person services at the start of the new year. The move to lift the cap on church attendance came after the U.S. Supreme Court’s new conservative majority ruled against the State of New York in a lawsuit in which the governor sought to limit in-person attendance at religious services to reduce the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. It also comes just as a new, more communicable strain of Corona virus was discovered in the state, at a time when the state is lifting some restrictions on businesses and as School District 51 announced a return to in-person learning this week — a potent combination that could greatly increase the spread of the deadly virus.

Mesa County Commissioners use taxpayer money to recruit evangelical Christian foster families

Janet Rowland’s religious nonprofit got $57,360 in taxpayer funds in 2017  to recruit Christian foster families and place adopted kids in religious homes. (Photo: KKCO 11 News)

Newly-discovered Mesa County documents (pdf) reveal that in 2017, the Board of County Commissioners handed over $57,000 in taxpayer funds to a Christian organization represented by Janet Rowland for the purpose of recruiting solely evangelical Christian foster families in Mesa County.

Rose Pugliese, John Justman and Scott McInnis — all Republicans — unanimously agreed to enter into a contract (pdf) to pay $57,360 in taxpayer funds to Project 1.27, a Christian ministry that works through churches to recruit religious foster and adoptive families to assure children are “cared for within Christian communities.”

Janet Rowland was Project 1.27’s national director.

The group engages in  “[foster] training with a solid Christian perspective,” and provides training to “Christian parents wishing to foster and adopt.” The group’s website makes no mention of recruiting families belonging to any other religions or of no religion.

The county’s contract required 20 hours a month be spent on “faith based recruitment.”

Project 1.27’s website only addresses recruitment of Christian families, saying they provide “state-required, biblically-based training for Christian parents wishing to foster and adopt.”

This is misleading since legally, no state can require “biblically-based training” in anything. Project 1.27’s website does not say it is open to recruitment of families from any other religion, or non-religious families.

Election worker at Clifton Christian Church polling place tells voter he should “attend church on Sundays”

This is what we were afraid of when it became known that Mesa County was using churches as polling places.

When a local man went to the polling place in the Clifton Christian Church and mentioned he preferred that the county use non-religious locations as polling places, the poll worker pulled out the snark and told him he should “attend church on Sundays.”

Government is strictly prohibited under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment from promoting specific religious beliefs, like this poll worker did while she was representing County government.

The poll worker violated the voter’s right to be free from religious coercion in a polling place. 

But we knew this would happen.

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters takes exception to atheists on social media

Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters’ biased comment on the “Transparency in Mesa County” Facebook page.

 

Embattled Republican Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters expressed contempt for atheists yesterday in a comment on social media, sowing further doubt about whether she can truly conduct her office in an impartial manner.

Here is how the comment came about:

Participants on the public group Facebook page “Transparency in Mesa County” had been discussing the County Clerk’s office after it was found that they forgot to collect and count 574+ ballots from the November, 2019 combined general election.

In new documentary, “Jane Roe” of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision reveals she was paid to switch sides in the abortion debate


In a new documentary released Friday, May 22, Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling in Roe V. Wade, reveals that she was paid by anti-abortion factions to switch her position from supporting to opposing abortion rights for women.

Western slope nonprofit group encourages people to report violations of separation of church and state

The western slope’s nonprofit watchdog organization Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) encourages people to report violations of separation of church and state in places like public schools and at local government meetings, so they can address the violations.

Past violations reported to WCAF have included a Mesa County Commissioner praying to Jesus Christ at the start of public hearings, a Delta county middle school student being forced to watch a nativity play after asking to opt out, a Delta County middle school teacher hosting weekly Bible study classes in his own classroom immediately before school and handing out free doughnuts to students who attended, Fellowship Church promoting its youth indoctrination center in a Mesa County middle school by showing a video about it during gym period and handing students admission slips to the facility afterward, a Mesa County elementary school student being told by a lunch aide in the cafeteria in front of her friends that she MUST believe in God “because God created everything,” a Delta County high school student having her grades slashed and college grant applications sabotaged for reporting Christian proselytizing going on within the  school system, Colorado Mesa University students having Gideon Bibles foisted on them as they stepped off the dais at their graduation ceremony, a Delta County Middle School teacher telling her class that “non-Christians are bad people” and “the bombers aren’t Christians,” quoting the Bible in class, and much more.

Winter solstice billboard graces entry to town, thanks to Grand Junction’s growing secular community

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) is running it’s annual wintertime billboard celebrating the solstice on the digital billboard facing west on I-70 Business Loop in front of Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A at Rimrock Marketplace. At a recent meeting, WCAF members estimated that approximately 15-20% of western Colorado residents are non-religious and identify as atheists, agnostics, humanists or freethinkers.

Beware electing Janet Rowland as county commissioner again

Former County Commissioner Janet Rowland (January 2005 – January 2013) once compared same-sex marriage to bestiality on a state-wide talk show, drawing condemnation from around the nation.

Janet Rowland is running for Mesa County Commissioner.

Yes, again.

She’s already been a Mesa County Commissioner — from January, 2005 to January, 2013 — but that doesn’t mean her being commissioner again is a good idea. It arguably is not a good idea. From her previous two terms, we have an abundance of experience with her and know what is in store if Janet Rowland gets another chance to be Commissioner. 

So let’s take a look at the past and see what it tells us.

Morally and ethically challenged

Certainly Janet has done some good things through her career, like trying to address child abuse and finding homes for foster kids. While those endeavors are laudable, we also need to take into account all the things she’s done that have set a poor example for kids, and our entire community and that have harmed the County.

Plagiarism

Shortly after losing statewide election for lieutenant governor as Bob Beauprez’s running mate in 2006, and while she was previously Mesa County Commissioner, Janet was a guest columnist for the Grand Junction Free Press, at the time a competing newspaper to the Daily Sentinel. She wrote several articles for the Free Press until one day a sharp reader noticed Janet had lifted most of one of her columns word for word from a government-published pamphlet, and brought this information to the attention of the Free Press’s editor.

 

Feb. 3, 2007 column in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel about Janet Rowland plagiarizing a guest column she wrote for the G.J. Free Press.

The Daily Sentinel reported on Rowland’s plagiarism on February 3, 2007:

A Mesa County official has plagiarized a government substance abuse booklet in her two most recent columns in the Grand Junction Free Press, that newspaper’s editor confirmed Friday.

The majority of Mesa County Commissioner Janet Rowland’s Feb. 1 column in the Free Press, titled “The importance of a strong parent-child bond,” was lifted verbatim from a 2006 National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism publication titled, “Making a Difference: Talk to Your Teen About Alcohol.”

A reading of Rowland’s unattributed column and the text of the booklet revealed the two are virtually identical. The only differences were found in the column’s first sentence and its lead into several bullet points.

The editor said if Rowland had been a staff writer, she probably would have been fired.

 

Janet’s first reaction to the plagiarism charge was to claim she couldn’t even remember writing the columns. (Denial.) When that failed to tamp down the controversy, she next said the information she used in her columns had been intended for “mass duplication anyhow,” adding that if people wanted to make what she did out as something evil, that was THEIR prerogative. (Sour grapes.) Next, she blamed the plagiarism on others, saying she had included the necessary attributions in her column, but Free Press staff had edited them out. (Lying and blaming.) Free Press management quickly produced the emails that contained the articles exactly as they had received them from Janet for publication, showing that they contained no references or attributions.

Colorado bill would prohibit teaching religious doctrine in public school sex ed curriculum

Colorado State Senator Don Coram

Delta County School District, are you listening?

Colorado State Senator Don Coram, a Republican who represents Montrose and Ouray counties, is a sponsor of HB19-1032, “Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education,” a bill to prohibit sex ed instruction in K-12 public schools from “explicitly or implicitly teaching or endorsing religious ideology or sectarian tenets or doctrines, using shame-based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools, employing gender norms or gender stereotypes, or excluding the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.”

The bill would appropriate least $1 million annually for a grant program to carry out the new law, and it would give highest priority for the grant funds to rural public schools.

Why is this bill needed? Because of the Delta County School District.

Community Hospital to stay secular, independent

Community Hospital in Grand Junction is a non-religious hospital where the only concern about medical care is what is best for their patients.

Community Hospital issued a press release today announcing it has ended discussions to merge with Centura Health, a religious hospital management company. Community Hospital’s board of trustees has decided to stay secular and independent for now.

Here is the hospital’s statement:

“After thoughtful consideration and thorough due diligence, Centura Health and Community Hospital have agreed to discontinue merger discussions. Although this was a difficult decision and one the Community Hospital Board of Trustees (BOT) did not take lightly, the board has made the decision to remain independent. The board wants to do what is best for the hospital and the community. The entire BOT and leadership team at Community Hospital were impressed with the Centura Health organization and the great work they are doing across the state and region. Likewise, Centura leadership respects the tremendous growth and physician partnerships that have been developed by the team at Community Hospital. Both parties remain open to discussing future partnership opportunities.”

Grand Junction may soon lose its only secular hospital

A previous blog discussed why Mesa County residents should be glad to have an alternative to a Catholic hospital in the valley and why it is so important to people’s health to have a secular hospital option available for medical care. But our valley’s one non-religious hospital option may disappear, and soon.

In October 2018, Community Hospital and Centura Health Network signed a letter of intent to merge. It provided each party with a 120 day-long window to evaluate the deal and decide whether or not to go ahead and finalize it.

Those 120 days are almost up, and a final decision on the merger must be made by February 10th.

Grand jury report details sexual abuse by over 300 priests in PA Catholic Church alone

President Trump and wife Melania shown with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who in July, 2013, requested permission from the Vatican to move $57 million in church funds to protect the the church’s assets from victims of priest sexual abuse. The Vatican approved Dolan’s request in five weeks.

It’s an unfathomably bad day for religion, but a better day to be an atheist, if you already are one. If you’re not already, the news coming out about the Catholic church (again) this week may be enough to flip you, if not just grip you.

A Pennsylvania grand jury has dropped a devastating 1,356 page report (pdf) that describes in excruciating detail the child sexual abuse that has occurred within the Pennsylvania Catholic church, perpetrated by over 300 “predator priests” in that state alone. The grand jury names each priest and has identified over a thousand credible child victims who endured abuse at the hands of the Church over a period of 70 years. Some of the victims are in their 80s now.

Atheist billboard graces entrance to Grand Junction at Easter, 2018

Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) has a new digital billboard up in front of Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A at Rimrock Marketplace on I-70 B just in time for Easter. It shows a child with a shocked look on his face holding a book that looks very much like a Bible. It says “Belief without proof is gullibility.” You can see the board as you are heading west on I-70 B.

WCAF wanted their spring billboard to have an educational component this year. The group wanted to emphasize that people deserve proof before believing what they’re told. They also want to urge people to come to logical conclusions based on verifiable facts rather than on lore, mythology or pure faith.

WCAF’s mission is to educate the public about atheism, promote acceptance of atheism as a rational belief system and preserve and promote the wall of separation between church and state.

The board is up through Tuesday, April 4. WCAF says anyone who takes their photo with the billboard and posts it on WCAF’s Facebook page will get a free package of M&Ms.  To donate to more billboards like this, go to WCAF’s Donation page.

City Council chooses to keep mostly Christian prayers at public meetings

“We say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” — City council members bow their heads during Christian prayers at a public meeting at City Hall, September 2, 2015

At their workshop Monday evening, Grand Junction City Council decided mixing religion with government was a good thing to do, and they would continue to do it.

City Manager Greg Caton told council members the City’s invocation policy dates back to 2008, saying they all inherited the practice. Council had an opportunity Monday at their workshop to discontinue prayers at City Council meetings and avoid further controversy over the City’s persistent endorsement of religion, modify the current policy or substitute a moment of silence instead.

But history shows the City of Grand Junction always has a hard time coming into the 21st Century.

Grand Junction City Council has an opportunity to end divisive religious invocations at public meetings. Let’s hope they do.

The Devil is among the many diverse religious players who are likely to get more chances to say invocations at City Council meetings, unless the invocation is eliminated entirely or the invocation policy is changed changed to a moment of silence instead of prayers.

Grand Junction City Council plans to re-assess the issue of hosting religious invocations at public meetings at their Monday, March 5 workshop.

Grand Junction made history in 2017 as the first city in Colorado host a Satanic invocation at a City Council meeting. News of the event spread across the country, and the story even made it onto Russia Today’s news website, RT.
How could something like this happen?
Under pressure from the City’s secular community to abide by the Constitutionally mandated separation of church and state, in 2008 the City of Grand Junction adopted an invocation policy that opened up the invocation to anyone, instead of reserving the opportunity to say it only to representatives of a few selected religious groups. Over the last ten years, the new policy has resulted in the City making history  with invocations given by atheists, Satanists and anarchists.
But the most prominent non-Christian invocation — a Satanic invocation last August, and all the hoopla that surrounded it — TV news cameras, prayer circles at City Hall and Bible-toting people in the audience — seems to have made Council interested in revising their invocation policy.

The dangers of June Fellhauer’s 2018 talk by Caroline Leaf, promoted by District 51

WakeUp Ministries’ promotion of Caroline Leaf’s talk

Local self-styled Christian missionary June Fellhauer is back in 2018 and this time, her unregistered nonprofit Wake Up Ministries sponsored a talk at Two Rivers Convention Center on January 12 by  Dr. Caroline Leaf, another Christian missionary.

Caroline Leaf labels herself a “cognitive neuroscientist.” Her teachings are aimed at helping people “see the link between science and God as a tangible way of controlling their thoughts and emotions.”  Dr. Leaf’s talked are based on her own idea that “the mind controls the brain.” She teaches that thoughts are the sole controller of our physical and mental health, that “toxic thinking is the root cause disease” and that thoughts can change our DNA.

The problem is, most of Leaf’s teachings are debunked by science.