The Pilgrim – Man Spends Eleven Years Walking 107,000 Kilometers in the Name of Faith

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Jose Antonio Garcia has become known as ‘The Pilgrim’ in his native country of Spain, after spending the last 11 years of his life walking over 100,000 kilometers to various pilgrimage sites on all continents except Oceania. This year, his amazing journey has finally come to an end.

Born in Puerto de Santa María, in the Spanish province of Cadiz, Jose Antonio Garcia spent most of his life on water, working as a sailor. He wasn’t the most religious person, but after going through a near-death experience, he decided to dedicate his life to an epic pilgrimage to as many holy sites as he could walk to. In 1999, the fishing boat Jose was working on capsized off the coast of Norway, and he was the only survivor out of a crew of 17. He spent hours in the freezing water clinging to the bodies of two fellow sailors, and it was then that he turned to religion, vowing to the Virgen del Carmel, the patron of sailors, that he would walk to all of the world’s holy shrines, if she saved his life.

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South-African Pastor Claims to Heal Congregates by Spraying Their Faces with Insect Repellent

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Pastor Lethebo Rabalago of Mount Zion General Assembly, in Limpopo, South Africa, has recently been accused of endangering his congregates’ lives by spraying them with insect repellent, as a healing method.

This bizarre practice first made news headlines in South Africa after photos showing Pastor Lethebo Rabalago spraying what looked like Doom bug spray in the faces of various congregates, were posted on the Facebook account of the Mount Zion General Assembly. One photo of a woman was captioned: “Mrs Mitala. The Prophet called sick people to come forward. She went to the forth and told the Prophet that she suffers from ulcer. The Prophet sprayed doom on her and she received her healing and deliverance. We give God the glory!”

Doom is a popular brand of insect repellent with serious adverse effects if inhaled (vomiting, seizures, or the loss of consciousness) or if it comes in contact withe the eyes, but Pastor Rabalago doesn’t seem too concerned about it. In a telephone interview with enca, the controversial “holy man” admitted to spraying his sick congregates with Doom bug spray as a way to heal them, adding that so far none of them have reported any side-effects following the ritual.

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Man Lives as Full Time Grey Jedi

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46-year-old Kevin Cottam is not the world’s biggest Star Wars fan, but for the last two years he has never left home without his iconic Jedi robe and trusty lightsaber. He is the UK’s only full-time Grey Jedi.

Cottam says he became a follower of Jediism six years ago, after doing some research online. He had become frustrated by all the rules most religions follow so he decided to look for something more suitable. “Before becoming a Jedi, I was a Zen Buddhist, but I was frustrated with the different precepts and mandates that came with the religion,” he says. “I researched other religions online and came across the Djedi of ancient Egypt, which inspired the Jedi in Star Wars.”

He learned that Jediism didn’t have any holy texts or commandments, only three basic laws: the cycle of knowledge, wisdom and compassion. Through the application of knowledge we gain wisdom, and through wisdom we become compassionate. He felt that this simple principle provided more guidance that thousands of restrictive and often times nonsensical rules ever could. So he decided to ditch Zen Buddhism for Jediism and became a Grey Jedi. “All Jedi believe there is a force that creates everything. But unlike the Jedi and Sith, who see the force as light and dark (ie good and bad), the Grey Jedi see it simply as a natural force. It is how we use the force that dictates whether it is good or evil,” he says.

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Putting Faith in a Piece of Rope at Brazil’s Largest Religious Festival

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Every year, in the second week of October, millions of Roman-Catholic devotees from all over Brazil descend on the city of Belem to attend Cirio de Nazaré, the country’s largest religious festival, and to touch a 400-meter-long piece of rope believed to have the power to heal the sick.

Cirio de Nazaré has been celebrated intermittently in Brazil since 1793. The event revolves around a small statue of Nossa Senhora de Nazaré (Our Lady of Nazareth), an artifact supposedly sculpted in Nazareth that is believed to have performed miracles in medieval Portugal, before being lost in Brazil. Legend has it that a cattleman found it in a canal during the 1700’s, but every time he took it out of the water, it would disappear, only to be found again in the original place it was discovered. The people of Belem believed that it was Our Lady’s wish to remain there, so they built a church there, which would later become today’s Nazaré Basilica.

The celebration lasts two weeks, but the climax of the event is on the first Sunday, when the small statue is taken from the city’s Catedral da Sé to the Nazaré Basilica, on a flower-bedecked carriage pulled by thousands of devotees. The night before the procession about 15.000 devotees queue in front of the cathedral to secure a place near the 400-meter-long piece of rope used to pull the carriage through the city. Men and women align on two separate lines, and by 10 a.m. on Sunday, the human density around the rope reaches an incredible 10 people per meter.

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Devout Christian to Carry Large Wooden Cross to Mountain Top after Getting Vision from God

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48-year-old Emyr Mathias, a builder from Ceredigion, Wales, is preparing to embark on an epic 200-mile journey carrying a 25-kg wooden cross from St. Davids in Pembrokeshire to the top of Mount Snowdon, after getting a series of visions from the Lord.

A devout Christian for the past 31 years, Emyr says he is taking on the monumental challenge in response to a calling he received from God. It all started a couple of years ago, when he started getting these strange visions. In the first one he was carrying a St David’s flag from St David’s to Snowdon, but he dismissed it as silly, telling himself “I’m not carrying a flag on the road – that’s silly!” Then, he claims he had a second vision in which God told him “I want you to carry a cross from St David’s to Snowdon,” but again Emyr thought “I’m not doing that”.

Not long after having these visions, Mathias met Angie Taylor who, after the loss of her son, carried a cross from Land’s End to John O’Groats with amazing testimonies of what the Lord did along the way. After telling her about God’s message to him, she said “You daft bat! Get the cross made!” So he did.

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19-Year-Old College Student Cuts Out Her Tongue as Offering to Hindu Goddess

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In a shocking incident that occurred recently in India’s Madhya Pradesh state, a 19-year-old college student sliced off her own tongue as an offering to the Goddess Kali, in exchange for the fulfillment of her wishes.

Aarti Dubey, an undergraduate student at TRS College in Madhya Pradesh, apparently dreamed about Kali asking her to cut off her tongue in exchange for her heart’s desire, and the next day she went to the goddess’ temple in the town of Reeva, to do just that. While it’s not unheard of for devotees to offer their body part to the goddess Kali, Aarti’s sacrifice is considered highly unusual because she is an educated young woman.

“There have been incidents of people offering their organs to the gods, expecting to get their wishes granted by the supreme power. What is startling in this case is the girl in question is educated. Illiterate people are bound to be superstitious, but when educated people become superstitious it does not bode well for the society as a whole,” local journalist Shyam Mishra told The Daily Mail.

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Woman Dies after Pastor Sets Heavy Speaker on Top of Her in Failed Miracle Attempt

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Congregates of Mount Zion General Assembly, a Christian church in Polokwane, South Africa’s Limpopo province, were left in shock last Sunday, after a woman lost her life during a failed miracle attempt by pastor Lethebo Rabalango.

The controversial South African pastor and founder of the Mount Zion General Assembly church was apparently teaching congregates about the demonstration of power and was trying to emphasize that if Jesus could walk on water, then he too could do anything with the power of faith. To get his point across, Rabalango invited a young woman from the crowd to take part in a real-life miracle. He asked her to lie down on the floor and then ordered his ushers to pick up a giant speaker and lay it on top of her body.

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This After School Satan Club for Kids Is Not as Bad as It Sounds

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A group of political activists known as The Satanic Temple has announced its intention to establish After School Satan Club programs in public elementary schools in the United States, in an effort to compete with after school religious programs supported by various Christian evangelical groups.

And before you flip out, Satanic Temple leader and co-founder Doug Mesner assures parents that the already controversial after-school program will involve no demon summonings, Satan worshiping or any kind of satanic rituals. After School Satan Club meetings will include a healthy snack, literature lesson, creative learning activities, a science lesson, puzzle solving and an art project. Sounds pretty tame, and Mesner explains that the whole point of the program is to offer young kids an alternative. “It’s critical that children understand that there are multiple perspectives on all issues, and that they have a choice in how they think,” said Mesner, a.k.a Lucian Greaves.

Despite its name, The Satanic Temple doesn’t encourage the worshiping of the fallen angel, in fact it doesn’t even believe in the existence of a supernatural being that other religions refer to as Satan, or Lucifer, or Beelzebub. The group rejects all forms of supernaturalism and instead promotes scientific rationality. So why use Satan? Simply as a metaphor, a symbol against all forms of tyranny over the human mind. Yes, that obviously includes organized religion.

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Pay to Pray – Guy Makes Over $7 Million Charging People for Prayers Online

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Between 2011 and 2015, Seattle “businessman” Benjamin Rogovy made millions of dollars by taking advantage of people’s religious beliefs. Through his website, ChristianPrayerCenter.com, he led people to believe that ministers and religious leaders would pray for them if they paid between $9 and $35 for the service. He managed to convince hundreds of thousands of people to participate in the scam, becoming the sole recipient of all their donations.

To make the internet scam seem genuine, Rogovy posed as Pastor John Carlson, a fictitious character with a professional-looking LinkedIn profile. He created other fake profiles for ministers who could provide private consultations and perform religious ceremonies through ChristianPrayerCenter.com and its Spanish version, OracionCristiana.org. Both websites contained fake testimonials of people who, with the help of his prayers, had been able to avoid home foreclosures, win the lottery, have healthy babies, and even be cured of HIV.  The scheme worked perfectly for four very profitable years, and at the height of its popularity, Rogovy’s pay-to-pray service had a whopping 1,289,120 likes on Facebook. People posted all their prayers online and sent money in hopes that it would lead to small miracles.

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Russian Man Faces a Year in Prison For Denying the Existence of God Online

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After expressing his lack of belief in God on social media, a Russian man was arrested and charged with “offending the feelings of believers”. Victor Krasnov is now on trial and facing up to a year in prison for writing things like “there is no God” and “the Bible is a collection of Jewish fairy tales” during an online discussion on the Russian social networking website Vk.com.

Shortly after the discussion in 2014, Krasnov and his mother began to receive anonymous threats. Then, in the fall of 2015, a couple of his friends who were part of the discussion – Dmitry D., 24, and Alexander K., 23 – pressed charges against him, claiming that they were representing the interests of all Orthodox Christians in Russia. The Investigative Committee (similar to the FBI) interrogated Krasnov for over a month, during which he was also subjected to psychiatric evaluations. He was declared sane, but the Committee decided that although he did not directly insult any individual, his comments did hurt the feelings of religious people.

Offending the feelings of believers was made a criminal offence in the nation in 2012, after punk band Pussy Riot’s blasphemous performance at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. For this reason, Krasnov is now being tried in court in his hometown of Stavropol in southern Russia.

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Russian Church to Pay $11,500 Debt in Prayers for Construction Company

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It appears that in some parts of the world, prayers have legit market value. For example, a church in Russia is getting away with a $11,500 debt by promising to pray for the good health of the creditors instead.

The Nizhny Novgorod diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church owed 916,000 roubles to construction company Era for designing a heating system for one of their buildings. The church was only able to settle half the amount, and the company decided on taking legal action. But the owners of the company happen to be religious people, so the church was able to convince them to agree to a pre-trial settlement in which the loan would be written off and the church would pray for them in exchange.

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Mercy Bus – Mobile Church Offers Confession and Blessings on the Go

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The Catholic Diocese of Salford, in North West England, has come up with a unique initiative to reach out to the masses – a church on wheels. Aptly named the ‘Mercy Bus’, it’s an actual double-decker bus that will tour Greater Manchester and Lancashire throughout Lent, offering people sermons, blessings, and Confession.

Father Frankie Mulgrew, the brains behind the mission, revealed that Pope Francis was his inspiration when he came up with the idea last summer. The Bishop of Salford, John Arnold, was looking for innovative ideas while making plans for the Year of Mercy. Fr. Frankie thought it would be great to have holy doors all over the diocese, and a mobile holy door that would move around the city. The idea kept evolving until, eventually, the Mercy Bus was born.

“We were inspired by the Pope who, when he was a cardinal in Argentina, would celebrate open-air Masses in the poorest areas of his diocese,” Fr Frankie said.

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African Pastor Sells Anointed Pens That Help Students Pass Exams without Studying

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A pastor in Harare, the capital of Zimbabwe was in the news recently for selling hundreds of special, ‘anointed’ pens to local students. Prophet Sham Hungwe claims that the miracle pens will help students pass exams without even studying!

“It is anointed and I declare passes when your children sit for exams; when you sit for exams,” he told members of the House of Grace International Church, during a sermon. And with the ‘O’ and ‘A’ level exams coming up, he managed to sell a lot of the 15-cent pens for different prices, ranging from $1 to $20. The more you pay, the higher the chances to pass the exams.

Several believers scrambled to secure the pens for themselves or their children, especially after one of the congregants testified that he scored 14 points on his ‘A’ level last year with Prophet Sham’s special pen. The testimony boosted sales, with one woman paying over $10 for a single pen.

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Japanese Monk Goes Nine Days Without Food, Drink and Sleep in Grueling Religious Ritual

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Can you imagine going without food, drink and sleep for nine straight days and nights? It sounds impossible, but a Japanese Buddhist monk proved that it can be done, after recently completing a grueling ritual.

Last Wednesday, 41-year-old Kogen Kamahori, one of the “marathon monks” of Mount Hiei, a holy mountain that straddles Japan’s Kyoto and Shiga prefectures, became one of only 13 monks to have completed the endurance test since the end of World War 2. He emerged from a training facility, assisted by fellow monks, after spending nine days without eating, drinking, sleeping or even lying down. During this time, he was also required to chant sutras 100,000 times. Just keeping count under these conditions sounds like a superhuman task.

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Russia Begins Construction of World’s First Underwater Church

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A group of Russians are trying to construct the world’s first underwater church at Cape Fiolent, about 200 meters off the Crimean coast. Divers recently planted a large cross styled like a ship’s anchor at a depth of about 20 meters below sea level, marking the beginning of the ambitious project.

The church is partly sponsored by a Russian motorcycle club called Night Wolves, believed to have close ties with President Putin. Co-funding the project is the Russian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. Both groups hope that the church will attract more tourists to the newly annexed Crimean peninsula.

“The underwater church will look like a church,” said Archimandrite Tikhon, who is also a diving enthusiast. “There will be icons inside – just like in a real church. Most probably they will be bas-reliefs of icons in stainless steel or stone.” He added that architects are working on the design and details of the structure.

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