"I found that modern-day parents were apathetic about Christianity," explained the 38-year-old minister. "Clearly an idea was needed to bridge the gap—and I thought of a robot."
More info: CyberneticZoo.com
Pittsburgh Press - Aug 23, 1973
The members of the Truth Tabernacle Church in Burlington, NC tried Santa Claus. The charges included "child abuse by urging parents to buy liquor instead of clothing," "lying and saying he is Saint Nicholas," "causing churches to practice Baal religion unknowingly," and "causing ministers to lie about Christ's birthday."
They found Santa — or 'Satan Claus' as they called him — guilty on all charges and hanged him in effigy.
Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer - Dec 19, 1980
Due to the vagaries of medieval spelling, Rumwold is also known as Rumald, Rumbold, Grumbald, Rumbald, etc. The story goes that
Rumwold was born in 662 and only lived for three days. But during that brief time he demonstrated the ability to speak and recited the Lord's Prayer. So, after his death, he was made a saint.
image source: .johnsanidopoulos.com
While a three-day-old saint is, on its own, odd enough, my favorite part of his story involves the picture of him that later hung in Boxley Abbey in Kent. It was used as a test of a woman's chastity. Those who were chaste would easily be able to lift the picture. But if a woman was not chaste, the picture would mysteriously become so heavy that she wouldn't be able to lift it.
The secret, unknown by those trying to lift the picture, was that it could be held in place (or not) by a wooden rod concealed behind it.
The story of the unliftable portrait is told by Sidney Heath in Pilgrim Life in the Middle Ages
At Boxley also was a famous image of St. Rumald, Rumbold, or Grumbald, the son of a Northumbrian king and of a daughter of Penda, King of Mercia. He died when three days old, but not before he had repeated the Lord's Prayer and the Apostles' Creed in Latin, a feat for which he gained canonisation.
His image at Boxley is said to have been small, and of a weight so light that a child could lift it, but that it could at times become so heavy that it could not be moved by persons of great strength.
Thomas Fuller, the quaint old divine, tells us that "the moving hereof was made the conditions of women's chastity. Such who paid the priest well might easily remove it, whilst others might tug at it to no purpose. For this was the contrivance of the cheat — that it was fastened with a pin of wood by an invisible stander behind. Now, when such offered to take it who had been bountiful to the priest before, they bare it away with ease, which was impossible for their hands to remove who had been close-fisted in their confessions. Thus it moved more laughter than devotion, and many chaste virgins and wives went away with blushing faces, leaving (without cause), the suspicion of their wantonness in the eyes of the beholders; whilst others came off with more credit (because with more coin), though with less chastity."
A unique defense.
Source: Daily News
(New York, New York) 08 Mar 1943, Mon Page 219
A modern (1894) version of THE INFERNO. Many more weird illustrations at the link
, where you may read the whole thing.
A simple, psychological trick maximizes church giving:
The ushers, with contribution plates, started on their rounds. The evangelist said she had instructed them to say "Amen" whenever 25 cents was dropped into the plate; when 50 cents the usher was to say "Hallelujah!" and when $1 the usher was to say "Glory hallelujah!" in a loud tone. The collection amounted to $1,100...
the evangelist knew that no person with money to give would be content with an "Amen" when a neighbor, sitting in the next pew, was acclaimed with a "Glory hallelujah!"
New York Times - May 18, 1919
According to the Rev. Franklin Loehr, prayer could supercharge the growth of plants. Pretty much any prayer would work. He detailed his argument in his 1959 book The Power of Prayer on Plants
When Richard Nixon was told of Loehr's results, he reportedly said, "That sounds like a good kind of thinking to me."
However, in 1961, a group of Harvard students tried to replicate Loehr's results and failed to do so
. In fact, in their experiment the plants that weren't prayed for at all grew better than plants that were prayed for by either skeptics or believers.
More details from Newsweek
(Apr 13, 1959):
Can prayer make plants grow faster and bigger? Skeptics think it laughable, scientists find it irrelevant, and farmers tend to rely on more mundane methods to increase their crops. But the Rev. Franklin Loehr is convinced that the answer is yes, and has just written a book, "The Power of Prayer on Plants," to tell why.
After five years and 900 experiments, the 46-year-old Presbyterian minister reports he and 150 members of his prayer group found that prayed-for wheat and corn seeds grew into bigger seedlings than ones which got no prayer or outright negative prayer. Commenting on their methods last week in his Los Angeles home, Mr. Loehr explained that they used every kin of prayer and found every one effective to a degree.
"There were silent and spoken prayers," he continued, "those to loved ones, and the humble prayer straight to God. But mostly people just talked to the plants, loved them, or scolded them. First I tried buddying up to them, and then I observed that the people getting better results were approaching the plants on their own level of consciousness."
Picking up a copy of the book, he pointed to the jacket, which shows a lone, stunted shoot on the no-prayer side of an experimental seedbed. "He wasn't supposed to be there," explained Mr. Loehr, "so we blighted him with three bursts of negative command."
Mr. Loehr dropped the experiments two years ago, having persuaded himself, at least, of their validity. He is now concentrating on "soul dynamics" prayer for people—not, of course, to make them grow faster and bigger. "The fact is," he concluded, "we used plants to test prayer just as the artificial heart is tested in dogs instead of humans."
Along similar lines, see our previous post "Does holy water help radishes grow better?"
New York Attorney General Lous Lefkowitz ruled that "The Fellowship for Human Happiness" could no longer claim to be a church. It was instead, he decided, a house of prostitution masquerading as a church.
Is there actually a rigorous legal test for determining what counts as a religion versus what doesn't? Or do judges (and Attorney Generals) just make determinations based on whether something feels appropriately religious to them? Google, so far, hasn't been able to supply me with an answer.
Tallahassee Democrat - Feb 10, 1977