The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Makayla Sault Dies - Brian Clement Got Some Money

On November 18 of last year I wrote about an 11 year old Canadian aboriginal girl named Makayla Sault who had acute lymphoblastic leukemia or ALL. Her parents had ceased medical treatment because Makayla "had a vision of Jesus" and told the doctors that the chemotherapy was killing her, which, to be fair, is a normal child's reaction to a painful medical treatment. Parents are supposed to know better and do what is best for their child. They instead took her to a Florida quack farm called the Hippocratess Health Institute because of some bullshit peddler named Brian Clement.

Makayla has died.

I am not going to blame the parents. My feeling toward them is frustration and a wish that someone had gotten to them to explain the ins and outs of quackery, to explain how the processes of medicine and science work, and to show some skeptical support. My real vitriolic hate is aimed squarely at Brian Clement and his fucking quack farm.

Leeches like Clement don't suck blood, they suck money from the pockets and savings of desperate people, preying on the sick and injured (and their families) in times of incalculable stress. Hope dwindles, the future looks bleak, and then the smiling, goateed face of Brian Clement shows up with promises of cures and miracles. "Just eat raw food, use homeopathy, and think positively! Leukemia isn't at all difficult to treat - *these* doctors just don't want you to know the cure because they're part of Big Pharma and all they care about is money."

I have an irony device beside me that just melted and formed the letters "Fuck Brian Clement" in liquid on my floor.

It is notable that the family says that Makayla died because of the effects of chemotherapy and that the damage done by the treatment was what caused her stroke. An oncologist from McMaster University, however, said that Makayla had suffered a relapse back in September of 2014 and took the family to court to have Children's Aid Society (CAS) remove Makayla from custody and have the treatment continued because it had an 85-90% chance of curing her. The hospital lost the case and Makayla was taken into the waiting arms of the quacks.

The fraud bullshit salesman, Clement, came to Canada to talk about his stupid money scheme to fleece the ill and said this (my comments in italics):
"Eat a raw plant-based organic diet...This is how we've seen thousands and thousands of people reverse stage four 'catastrophic' cancer...Change your lifestyle first with your attitude. Be positive." If eating fucking raw food and thinking positively cured cancer, real doctors would have figured it out decades ago and would have been using it in hospitals. What a fucking disgusting toolbag.

(P)atients are advised to make sure they don't do things that "contaminate you and pollute you." I guess "contaminating" and "polluting" their minds with bullshit is an exception Clement is ok with.

"Your immune system is what heals you...There is no magic in this process. It's common sense. If you use common sense and what we've learned here at Hippocrates for six decades, you are going to have the same results so many others have." Yeah, if the result you're looking for is to be dead.
What a tremendously ignorant piece of shit. When people say that doctors are arrogant, that hospitals want you to be sick, or that Big Pharma is only about making money, it shows what good marketing the woo peddlers have because those statements can be applied ten times over to the "alternative" medicine world and its practitioners. The arrogance of having no positive (or ANY) clinical trials or even basic understanding of physiology and still claiming that their nonsense can out-perform treatments that help people survive these diseases makes the arrogance of real doctors look like nothing. It's sickening.

I am sad for Makayla's family, but they seem to have comfort in their religion (another big part of the problem). The loss of such a young girl when it was, by all accounts, preventable is heart-breaking. Brian Clement, if he has any sense of humanity, should kill himself out of shame - but of course he won't. There are still families with sick children from whom to get that phat cash, son.

Excuse me while I vomit.

Dr. David Gorski's post from last year on Makayla Sault at Science Based Medicine can be read here.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Brian Dalton aka Mr. Deity Nails It

Stepping out from his Mr. Deity persona, Brian Dalton defends his fellow satirists and gives the Pope a decidedly necessary verbal beating regarding Frank's recent statements about punching people who offend him. Please to enjoy.

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Raif Badawi - Prisoner of Conscience

Imagine writing something.

Imagine that what you wrote was a form of criticism against a system you thought unfair and wrong. You criticized the leaders of this system.

Then the leaders get wind of what you have written, arrest you, charge you with apostasy, and sentence you to 10 years in prison, a fine, and 1000 lashes. The lashes are to be given in doses of 50, once a week for 20 weeks.

Think about that for a minute. One thousand lashes. Now think about Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger who had just this situation fall upon him and who, today, was due to have the second 50 lashes of his 1000 but it had to be postponed due to health reasons. The "health reasons" are that the first 50 from last Friday had not healed enough for him to withstand more. To refer to this punishment as "barbaric" is an understatement. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, a member of the Jordanian royal family said of the sentence:
“Flogging is, in my view, at the very least, a form of cruel and inhuman punishment...Such punishment is prohibited under international human rights law, in particular the convention against torture, which Saudi Arabia has ratified. I appeal to the king of Saudi Arabia to exercise his power to halt the public flogging by pardoning Mr Badawi, and to urgently review this type of extraordinarily harsh penalty.”
Not only was Mr. Badawi sentenced to a ridiculously harsh series of punishments, but his lawyer (and brother-in-law) Waleed Abu Al-Khair, was found guilty on charges that included offending the judiciary and founding an unlicensed organisation and his original sentence of 10 years in prison was increased to 15 years.

Imagine living in a place, under such a weak system, that "offending the judiciary" was considered a crime worth 15 years of punishment. The rulers of Saudi Arabia should be ashamed of harkening back to an age of darkness for horrific "solutions" to non-problems.

Canada, where Badawi's wife and children live presently, is concerned about the floggings and has, "made representations to Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador in Ottawa, and Canada’s Ambassador in Riyadh has met with the Chair of the Human Rights Commission and has sought a meeting with the Government of Saudi Arabia". This translates to very little in actual help for Mr. Badawi. Having an "ongoing, respectful dialogue" with Saudi Arabia can include telling them that what they are engaging in is inhuman and cruel, that they should cease torturing prisoners with (to say it as mildly as possible) questionable criminal credentials, and that there could be policy implications in the future if this behavior continues.

But you will, of course, excuse me if I don't hold my breath while I wait.

Kate Allen, UK director of Amnesty International, spoke about Badawi's case and what should happen there:
“David Cameron and his ministers should have the courage of their convictions and say – loud and clear – that Raif Badawi’s case is an absolute disgrace, that this weekly flogging should be halted and he should be freed from jail...At the very least the Foreign Office should be calling in the Saudi ambassador and telling him this in person if they haven’t already done so.”
I guess having the oil makes the political puffy chests fade into the back of the room until the dust settles and the next shiny news item grabs the attention of the population.

Hey, how are those Boko Haram assholes doing? We've handled them, right? Ohhh...damn....

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Not Very Popely..."Poply"? No, "Popely".

Media darling and sometime delighter of the non-religious for his seemingly liberal announcements, Pope Francis recently said something much more in line to what we think of when religious faith is concerned.
"One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people's faith, one cannot make fun of faith...There is a limit. Every religion has its dignity...in freedom of expression there are limits...If my good friend (Vatican aide Dr. Alberto) Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, then a punch awaits him,"
He followed that gem up with another that seemingly contradicts itself:
“One cannot react violently, but if (someone) says something bad about my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s to be expected,...There are a lot of people who speak badly about other religions. They make fun of them. What happens is what happens with my friend (who insults my mother). There is a limit.”
So are people supposed to react violently or not? Does Frank consider punching a person for talking about his mother a violent reaction? So confusing. And what about that whole Matthew 5:39, 5:44 thing? Out the window?

Thankfully, Frank also said, “no one can kill in the name of God. This is an aberration.” While I am happy that this is his opinion, it is sort of unsupportable in the light of his own source material. I mean, saying that no one should kill in the name of god is just crazy when you look at the cruelty and violence in the bible. I know he's the go-to guy for Catholics with respect to this stuff, but he might need a refresher course or something.

Additionally, I wonder if implying that Islam is a "deviant form of religion" counts as "making fun" of it? In a National Post article from January 13, 2015, Frank said about the Charlie Hebdo attack:
“Religious fundamentalism, even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext...Losing their freedom, people become enslaved, whether to the latest fads, or to power, money, or even deviant forms of religion,”
Hm, that really sounds sort of insulting to Islam. He might want to prepare because, by his own logic, he just might have a "punch" coming.

#JustSayin

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Parce que la liberté d'expression est extrêmement important: Je Suis Charlie.

When, on January 7 of this year, Islamic extremist cowards entered the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo's office and opened fire, ultimately killing 12 people, the world was once again rocked by the "religion of peace" flexing its atrophied muscle. Nothing highlights how lame a belief system's arguments are than the resorting to violence of its acolytes. We also see this in the recent story of Pastor Eric Dammann who punched a "bright kid...which made him dangerous" in the chest as hard as he could because Ben, the kid, wasn't taking the Lord serious (sic). At least it was a punch and not a gun, I guess.

I was unaware of the existence of Charlie Hebdo until the recent attack and murder. I would venture to say that many of the users of the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag on Twitter were also in the same boat, but because of the moronic and predictably ultra-violent reaction of the extremists, they are experiencing the Streisand Effect to its fullest. Way to go, dumbasses.

This was not the first attack on the magazine's offices. In 2011 the building was firebombed by...who do you think? If you said offended Jews, I'm sorry but you're wrong. It was the Muslim dickheads again, but it resulted in one of the most famous covers for Charlie Hebdo: the kissing one.
Love is stronger than hate, indeed.

There are a ton of cartoons that you can see here if you want to check them out. A lot of them are great, like this one:
Or the most recent cover:
It's important to republish these wherever we can, and not just because it annoys Muslims. No, offending individual Muslims is not the goal; the goal is to further free speech and free expression. As Christopher Hitchens once said, "If someone tells me that I've hurt their feelings, I say, 'Well I'm still waiting to hear what your point is'." As has been said a million times before but bears repeating, obviously, again - You do not have the right to NOT be offended.

A separate bit of disgusting revisionism took place at an ultra orthodox Jewish newspaper, The Announcer, where they both cropped and photoshopped (poorly) female leaders (German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, EU foreign affairs and security chief Frederica Mogherini, and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt) out of a historic picture of politicians marching in support of France and the Charlie Hebdo victims. Ham-handed, misogynistic, and inexcusable actions by supposedly godly men. So, in light of that unpleasantness, here's another Charlie Hebdo cartoon that shows both Muslims and Jews:
There are some who have criticized those who have republished the critical-of-Islam cartoons saying that we should be publishing all of the offensive cartoons so as to not isolate Muslims and contribute to "islamophobia". I would reply to that by saying that if Christian extremists went into those offices and shot up the place, killing cartoonists, I'd be republishing the anti-Christian drawings. If there were a couple of Hindu shitheads who took up the fight for some group and blasted 12 writers/cartoonists to their deaths, I'd be publishing anti-Hindu drawings. I do agree with them that all religious texts are nonsense and should be treated with contempt. Here's what CB writers/illustrators did on that front:
Funny how no one freaked out or shot anyone over this image, huh? Weird....

The fact that it was Muslim extremists who committed this horrible crime makes it inevitable that the republication of any cartoons will be of the anti-Islam variety (except, obviously, for the anti-Jewish one up there for the photoshopping bullshit). I may not agree with the writers/illustrators of Charlie Hebdo, but they are correct in that free speech is a right that must be protected and that, "The pen is always above barbarism." Je suis Charlie.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Aw, Homeopaths are Mad They Don't Get to Treat Ebola

I'm not going to get into this that much because, well, it's just too stupid a topic on which to waste my time. Besides, as usual, Orac has beaten me to it and done a better job than I ever could. I just read this Buzzfeed article and thought, "holy shit, seriously?" No wonder ebola spread so quickly, if these jagoffs were over there "helping". I guess homeopaths in Rwanda would have just handed out little super-tiny machetes in the hopes of stopping the genocide and bringing peace back between the Tutsis and Hutus. Jesus, trying to cure ebola with homeopathy is like trying to fix a severed arm with a butterfly; nonsensical and ineffective.

I bet Dana Ullman is spouting off on twitter about this and calling a lot of people "ignorant".

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Brian Clement and the Hippocrates Death Institute

I am trying to rein in my tendency of being abrasive and full of unnecessary ad-hominems. I really am. On occasions such as this, however, the venom I shall spit is entirely justified and, in a few short paragraphs, I hope you will agree with me. If not, there are other web-logs to read.

I am going to talk about Brian Clement. "Who is Brian Clement?", you may ask. He is the co-director of the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida where the two First Nations girls mentioned in my previous post were taken for "treatment". He is a shithead, and I do not use that word lightly. Any person who convinces a mother to take her 11 year old out of the hospital where she is being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (with a predicted 90-95% recovery rate) and "treat" her with nonsense so she will, in all likelihood, die from her disease, is a tremendous shithead.

Please take a read of this excerpt from an interview with noted quack bullshit peddler, Joe Mercola:
Joe Mercola: "The FDA doesn’t view food as a medicine, but I’m wondering if you could comment on your experiences. Because I believe it can be, just as exercise is a medicine. But food is probably 400 percent more potent than exercise. Not that it’s either one or the other; you need both, of course. But if you’re only going to use one, I think it’s food. Can you give us your comments on that concept?"

Brian Clement: "Well, I have written, as you know, a series of books for the academic community called Food Is Medicine: The Scientific Evidence, reflecting what we’ve learned here for six decades. I did this specifically for the academics because they tend to be the most arrogant. They tend to be the most close-minded, the ones that literally think they know. When you think you know, you don’t learn. The bottom line is when I would be out at a medical conference speaking and giving case studies of people who reversed catastrophic disease that is commonly understood in mainstream medicine to be zero success, they would challenge me. They’ll say, “Give me the data.” I felt confused at that point because I said to them, “We don’t have the billions to do the research. We don’t have a research team. We don’t have statisticians.” But finally, a few years ago, I said, “Wait a minute, let me see if there’s enough evidence that I could scratch off out of mainstream universities to support what we’ve been doing here.” I was stunned. I could literally retire from the directorship and I stopped at 1,200 pages, three volumes. I could go on forever."
Firstly, Mercola "thinks" food is more important than exercise? Really? If you're going to use one out of either food or exercise, you "think" food is the better choice?" For fuck's sake, Mercola, you're really going out on a limb there.

Secondly, I love how this guy who, by all accounts, has his "accreditations" from diploma mills and has no actual schooling on the relevant material and is the one claiming that cancer is "not difficult to treat", calls academics "arrogant". Hysterical, and that leads into one of the best irony-machine-exploding phrases I've heard in a while: "When you think you know, you don’t learn." Yeah, exactly. How's that mirror look to you?

But, lo and behold, he then looks around and there's a ton of evidence that the bullshit he's peddling actually works! It works, I tell you! I mean, he says that he could, "...write books until the day I die on those so many volumes of evidential science and empirical evidence coming out of research." Ok, so no one's asking for that. A guy has to relax a bit from time to time. Just write one. One good one that's convincing; pick the most bulletproof, solid, undeniable cases and evidence-based studies and write one goddamn book. Fuck, just write a paper that's halfway decent and I'll shut my mouth. Funnily, a PubMed search for, "Clement, Brian", or "Brian Clement", or "Clement, B" all bring up exactly zero results. Maybe he's being shut out of the big journals for looking like a low-rent Max Maven.

If you'd like to have a bit of a guffaw, read this excerpt from the same interview:
I’ll never forget Ann Wigmore. She was the only person I ever knew, Dr. Mercola, who had no intellect. This woman was purely heart and instinct. That’s why she was correct almost always. I was frustrating her because I was young and insecure and was in a way challenging her, “How does this reverse disease?” She got frustrated one day and took a little black sunflower seed, organic sunflower seed, and said, “Don’t you realize if we put this to the ground, in seven weeks, it will be 12 to 15 feet-tall with thousands of seeds on it? That sunflower plant is going to be facing the east in the morning and facing the west at night. Now, don’t you think the power of the sunflower is that you’re taking hundreds of thousands of these by eating them, as you are now, and that juicing them is going to be good for you?” It’s the light force in the food even more important than the nutrients and the proteins.
Howzabout you take three naturalistic fallacies and call me in the morning. Can you believe that shit?! He actually describes Wigmore as having "no intellect" and that that was a good thing. And holy crap, sunflowers grow and follow the source of part of their nutrition through the day! Amazeballs! Eating it must be fab for you, right? Like carrots! Well, except for one specific member of the carrot family, the Western Water Hemlock, which is so poisonous that it will kill you very quickly and even has enough poison in one bulb to kill a 1600lb cow.

Brian Clement, recipient of diploma mill "degrees", peddler of all things woo, and enabler in the slow death of Canadian First Nations children. Oh, wait, not just them - there was at least one more:
23-year-old Stephanie O'Halloran was diagnosed last August with a rare but aggressive form of breast cancer and was given just months to live...Limerick people gave generously to fundraising efforts for alternative treatment in the United States after doctors told the young mother-of-one that traditional chemotherapy could not cure her.
I wonder where this "alternative treatment in the United States" was located? Hmmmm? I remember, Orac wrote about her back when she was alive but conned into going to Clement's Hippocrates Death Centre.

It's not often that I wish actual harm on someone, but in the case of the scumbag Brian Clement, I'll make an exception.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tragic Case of "Rights"

A recent court decision in Brampton, Ontario means that an 11 year old First Nations Mohawk girl will likely die a very preventable death. The argument is that First Nations people have the right to use their "traditional medicines" to treat illnesses and diseases, even if that means eschewing actual, proven medicine in the face of a deadly condition.

This is utter nonsense. The government should step in to protect the life of the afflicted girl regardless of the justifications Justice Gethin Edward talks about. To quote from the article:
Evidence showed the mother from Six Nations reserve is “deeply committed to her longhouse beliefs and her belief that traditional medicines work,...This is not an eleventh-hour epiphany employed to take her daughter out of the rigours of chemotherapy,...Rather it is a decision made by a mother, on behalf of a daughter she truly loves, steeped in a practice that has been rooted in their culture from its beginnings.”
If I may take this quote apart a bit, what the judge doesn't care about is that it really doesn't matter at all how evidence shows that the mother is committed to her beliefs that traditional medicines work. It matters if they actually work. What if my daughter gets acute lymphoblastic leukemia and I am committed to the belief that making her dust the house and eat nothing but Quaker instant oatmeal (only the maple brown sugar type) and water will cure the disease? Will I get applause from an audience in a court room for obtaining the right to "treat" my daughter with the aforementioned protocol?

The answer is "no".

Just because an idea is tenacious doesn't mean that it's worthy, if I may quote Tim Minchin. We must allow adults to seek out whatever treatment or "treatment" they want as part of their freedom of choice, expression, and religion, but we need to make sure that children are given the best possible path to make it to adulthood so they can receive those freedoms.

Chief Ava Hill was happy about the ruling saying, "This is monumental for our people right across the country, and we’re going to get the news out right away,...We were the first people here, we looked after ourselves, we had our traditional medicines. We looked after your ancestors when they arrived here, and what medicines do you think we used?”" Just to be clear, "looking after" is in no way the same as, "curing" or "increasing lifespan". You can "look after" a person and if they're sufficiently sick, they'll die. As I've said before, adding any modifier before the word "medicine" such as "traditional", "alternative" or "naturopathic" will, in all likelihood, decrease its efficacy substantially.

This family and the family of another First Nations 11 year old girl, Makayla Sault, have also travelled to a Florida clinic that claims to be able to treat cancer but is astoundingly full of woo and nonsense. This "clinic" is the definition of the kind of mentality from which we as a hopefully-advancing-species have to save our young people. It is abysmal and no one under 21 should be allowed on the grounds of this quackery farm.

I truly hope that both the girl in the court decision and Makayla Sault can go into spontaneous remission and somehow, against all odds, recover. My fear is that they will both have recurrences, receive "traditional" medicine, and die soon afterwards. Will the media cover those stories as follow-up? Will anyone listen then? The only certainty in these terrible situations is that "traditional" medicines will sadly be touted as valid for a long time to come.

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Ugh, Rick Warren Talking About Marriage

Pastor Rick Warren is speaking at the Vatican conference on marriage called "The Complementarity of Man and Woman: An International Colloquium". There's a ton of people attending, but one thing can be pretty much assured: the gays ain't welcomed, especially if they're havin' that gay sex.

Warren said in an interview that, "It's not a sin to love somebody, but it might be a sin to have sex with them." (quote comes at the 2:00min mark of the video) He also said that as an evangelical pastor, his source of authority is the Bible, but it says quite clearly there that homosexuality is bad and that gay people who have sex with each other should be killed.
Lev. 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Can't really argue with that. It also says immediately after that that if a man has sex with a woman and her mother, they should all be burnt. So I guess if the allegations are true, Mackenzie Phillips, John Phillips, and Susan Adams should be murdered. Wonder why that's not happening or if Warren thinks it should?

Helen Alvaré is the spokesperson for the event and is quoted as saying:
“Many believe that people talk about the relationship between men and woman all of the time,...That conversation is not very deep; it is usually about the troubles they are having, or about sex, but it doesn’t go deeper, to consider the meaning and purpose in the world and in the divine plan, of there being two sexes, drawn to one another, capable of a ‘one-flesh’ union, responsible for the creation of all new life.”
Yes, I realize that she's a devout Catholic whose views seem quite close to the party line, but who says there even is a "divine plan"? From where is she (or any of them) getting this plan? There's enough gayness in the Bible (even though it is, apparently, icky) that religious people shouldn't really be upset about it. Jonathan and David, for example (1 Samuel, chapters 18-23).

In reality, I don't care if religious people get together to chat about what they think marriage should be about. Who cares? Their ideas are dying, the rational people are getting the message out that religious views are nonsensical and silly, and as enlightenment values spread and the internet makes information easy to fact-check, sanctimonious blowhards will find fewer and fewer places to disseminate their hate-inciting fatuities.

Go do your talk, Mr. Warren. Polish the brass as the ship sinks.

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Thursday, November 06, 2014

Pope Francis is Awesome! Except, Yeah, Not.

"Oh, he's so great. He thinks gays are just dandy." Except he leads a group of jackasses who, well, let's just say "don't agree". In fact they that, "there can be 'not even a remote' comparison between gay unions and heterosexual marriage".

"But this Pope believes in evolution!" Well, everyone who thinks this is news, perhaps you should check what Pius XII wrote in 1950 and JPII said in the 90's. No change there. Evolution happened, but Special Jesus Man started everything off, so cut it out with that Large Hadron Collider thingy trying to figure out the universe.

See, the trouble is that, even if he did make some bold statement on evolution or gay marriage/equality/humanity, it would likely be for invalid, wrong-headed reasons. I mean, take a look at this article talking about, of all damn things, exorcisms. I've written about exorcisms before and the gent who started the IAE (that's the International Association of Exorcists...they have a convention - wanna bet there's booze and tall tales?), Gabriele Amorth.

It's pretty crazy that the article says, "Priests who pursue the ministry of exorcism 'manifest the Church's love and acceptance of those who suffer because of the devil's works...'" That's a sentence more at home spouting from Helen Ukpabio's child-endangering lips. So many people believe in witchcraft that it really makes me doubt the ability of humanity to survive the coming decades. Read what Dwight Longenecker, a priest in South Carolina, said in the exorcist article, "Exorcism is a little bit like brain surgery in the spiritual realm..." No. Not in any way at all. At all. It's depressing to read that.

I don't really care if Francis "believes" in evolution, or if he thinks gay people are awesome, or whatever; if he thinks that there are demons living in certain people's heads and making them do things, then his brain is stuck in the deep past and that's where it seems it's going to stay.

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