38-Year-Old Woman Marries Jesus Christ in Elaborate Ceremony

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When high school teacher Jessica Hayes decided to get married, she settled for no less than the son of God himself. The 38-year-old from Fort Wayne, Indiana, tied the knot with Jesus Christ in an elaborate church ceremony last weekend. The groom, of course, was not present.

Hayes, a theology teacher at Bishop Dwenger High School, said that she made the decision to marry Christ after years of prayer and soul-searching. She is now part of an elite group of ‘consecrated virgins’ – women who lead chaste lives, but are not required to live in convents or obliged to work for the Catholic Church. Hayes plans to continue her normal life at home, but she will not be able to marry or have sex with anyone for the rest of her life.

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Alabama Church Opens Gun Range “in the Name of Jesus Christ”

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An Alabama church has shocked the nation by converting an unused patch of land on the church grounds into a gun range for parishioners. It appears that the members of Rocky Mount United Methodist Church, in Jemison, unanimously voted to mix religion and guns, “in the name of Jesus Christ.”

“We have had this large hole in the back of our property at the church for quite some time, and we thought it would be neat to start a gun range,” said Pastor Phil Guin. “The hole was primarily filled with kudzu, and had been used at one time to get fill dirt for the new facility that was built on the end of our church building.”

“We started working on the gun range about a year ago with some of the members of our church helping to clean out the hole,” the pastor added. “Not only did we think it would be a good outlet for members of our church to be able to learn more about gun safety, but it would be a good outreach for the community.” According to pastor Guin, a lot of the church’s female members owned or carried firearms but didn’t know how to use them.

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African Pastor Turns Woman’s Hair into Delicious Food for His Congregation

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A pastor from South Africa, who previously made headlines for praying for his congregation until they stripped, is now in the news again for turning a young woman’s hair into food and having his followers eat it straight from her head.

Pictures posted on The End Times Disciples Ministries’ Facebook page show the pastor, Prophet Penuel Mnguni, placing his hands on the woman. Other members of the congregation are seen holding her hair in their hands and actually attempting to eat it. The pictures are captioned: “Man of God held the head of a woman of God Thapelo from Mabopane and her hair turned into food for the sons and daughters of God to eat. Everything depends on what we say because we carry life in our tongue.”

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Indian Millionaire Gives Up His Fortune to Become a Humble Monk

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Indian businessman Bhanwarlal Raghunath Doshi made headlines last weekend for publicly renouncing his wealth to become a monk. The ‘plastics king’ of Delhi gave up his 600-crore ($100 million) business empire during a ceremony on Sunday, becoming the 108th disciple of Jain guru Shri Gunratna Surishwarji Maharaj.

Doshi’s decision wasn’t an impulsive one: Jain lectures have been drawing him to spirituality since 1982. But his family – his wife, two sons, and a daughter – were always reluctant to let him go. They finally relented last year, allowing Doshi to fulfil his long-time dream of becoming a monk. His initiation into monkhood took place in an extravagant ceremony at Ahmedabad Education Society, in Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

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Goofy Church Of Bacon Offers Religious Services to Meat Lovers

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Founded in 2012 by Las Vegas-based ex-Marine John Whiteside, the basic premise of the United Church of Bacon is rather simple – bacon is our God, because bacon is real. Well, who can argue with logic like that?

The church claims to have over 4,000 meat-loving members, some of whom even bear quirky titles. Whiteside goes by ‘Bacon Prophet’, while member Johnny Monsarrat calls himself ‘Funkmaster General’ and ‘Institutionalised Thought Leader’. The members are mostly atheists who claim that their religion is to doubt religion.

Although the church aims to unite meat lovers, it was basically started by Whiteside to stand up for atheists’ rights. “The hatred of atheists, atheophobia and secularphobia, has no stigma, unlike homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and racism. That needs to change,” he said.

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Prayer Nuts – Intricately Carved Wooden Marvels of a Time Long Passed

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While most rosaries these days consist of glass or wooden prayer beads, there was a time when wealthy Europeans used ‘prayer nuts’ – minutely detailed, small-scaled boxwood carvings. Each nut was a masterpiece in itself, decorated on the interior and exterior with intricate carvings representing Biblical stories.

The delicate wooden orbs were designed to be worn on a rosary, or on a belt by members of the nobility or wealthy merchant classes in northern Europe. At times, fragrant substances may have been inserted into the orbs, so that the nuts may have served as pomanders as well.

Recent studies suggest that prayer nuts of the early 16th century were reduced to such a small scale that they might have become impractical to use. The religious significance might have faded away, and these nuts may have later been made just to be studied and marveled at, as private collectors’ items.

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No Girls Allowed – The Greek State That Forbids Both Human and Animal Females

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Mount Athos, formally known as Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain, is located on the Greek peninsula of Halkidiki. The monastic traditions of the mountain date back to 800 A.D. and the Byzantine era. Today, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries, and 2,000 monks from Greece and other eastern orthodox countries such as Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia. These monks live an ascetic life, isolated from the rest of the world.

Although technically part of the European Union, the Holy Mountain is largely self-governed. This prohibits the free movement of people and goods in its territory, unless formal permission has been granted. As a result, a number of traditions at Mount Athos might seem odd to people outside. The keeping of Byzantine time, for instance, means that their day begins at sunset. But perhaps their most bizarre practice is the centuries-old ban on women entering the sacred peninsula.

For over 1,000 years, women have been forbidden from setting foot on the mountain. In fact, females of other species such as cows, dogs and goats aren’t permitted either. Only birds and insects are exempted from the rule – scanning the skies and grounds for female body parts would surely be too absurd, even by Mount Athos standards.

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Hundreds of Indians Fast to Death Every Year in Ancient Santhara Ritual

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Fasting is a common religious practice in several cultures across the world, but few are as hardcore as ‘Santhara’. The exacting ritual is a part of Jainism, one of the oldest religions in the world, and it involves participants making an oath to stop eating until they literally die of starvation. According to the Jains, this is a surefire way to purge oneself of bad karma and achieve ‘Moksha’ – liberation from the worldly cycle of death and reincarnation.

Every year, hundreds of Jains across India take up the onerous oath – some are monks, others are ordinary people. Interestingly, over 60 percent of the participants are female, and it is believed that women are more strong-willed than men. The practice is more popular with Jains who are ill or dying, but healthy people are also known to participate.

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Meet the Evangelicals Who Believe They Can Raise the Dead

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Dead Raising Team (DRT) is a team of evangelical Christians who boast that they can raise people from the dead with their prayers. Tyler Johnson, the group’s charismatic leader, claims to be responsible for bringing 13 corpses back to life!

The DRT story was covered in the 2013 documentary film Deadraiser. It depicts various miracle stories where DRT members pray for dead people and witness them come alive. Some of the people who allegedly came back from the dead claimed to have seen hell and the demons who were torturing them. But they were ultimately saved and pulled back to earth.

Mark DeDio, for instance, used to be a troubled drug user who actually claims to have died in 2006 as a result of an overdose. The next thing he knew, “there was screeching, torment, screams. The smell was just like vomit, sulphur.” But he was eventually saved by DRT member TJ Aderholdt, who happened to pass by the ambulance in which Mark’s corpse lay.

Although the man had no pulse, TJ began speaking in tongues as soon as he spotted Mark. Within minutes, Mark’s eyes popped open, he stood up and started telling everybody how he went to hell and was pulled back. “It was like a grab on my collar,” he recalled. “Jesus pulled me out.”

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French Author Rewrites the Bible as a Novel

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In a bid to deliver the tales of the Bible to all the cultures and religions of the world, French author Philippe Lechermeier has given the ancient text a makeover – he’s rewritten it as a fictional novel! He describes the book as a ‘spirit of cultural transmission without a religious message of faith or prayer’.

“For me this text stands for the common good,” the 46-year-old said. “Its sphere of influence could go well beyond religious boundaries. Its impact on our language, our psychology, our aesthetic, our morality is still very powerful.” He revealed that he grew up listening to his grandmother’s personalised versions of Biblical narratives, and this inspired him to transform stories in his own way.

Philippe, who happens to be an atheist, described the Old Testament as a ‘poorly written text from a literary point of view’. “When my children were small, I was trying to read them passages from the Bible. But it bothered them, especially because there are redundancies and inconsistencies.” So he wanted to make the Holy Book more accessible through good writing and elegant style that emphasize the depth of the characters.

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This Mississippi Rancher Who Tried to Bring About the Second Coming of Jesus by Shipping Red Cows to Israel

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Reverend Clyde Lott is a revivalist preacher and cattle rancher from Mississippi, who attempted to hasten the end of the world in a rather unusual way – by shipping red cows to Israel. He took up the challenge in accordance with an obscure injunction in the Book of Numbers, which states that without the sacrifice of a red heifer, the Jewish people cannot be purified and enabled to rebuild the Third Temple.

According to the Hebrew Bible, the apocalyptic countdown will play out something like this: Jews would return to Israel after 2,000 years – the Holy Temple would be rebuilt – billions of people would perish during seven years of natural disasters – the antichrist would rise and rule the world – the battle of Armageddon would commence somewhere near Israel – Jesus would return to defeat Satan’s armies and then preside over Judgment Day.

For things to turn out as prophesied, the Holy Temple needs to be rebuilt, of course, and purified with the sacrifice of a blemish-free red heifer. Some people even believe that the construction of the temple cannot be resumed unless a red cow that fits the description is actually born, signalling the beginning of the end. The heifer in question is mentioned specifically in Numbers 19:2: “Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish and upon which never came a yoke.”

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Controversial Preacher Wants to Cure Ebola with 4,000 Bottles of His Patented Holy Anointed Water

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Nigerian faith healer TB Joshua, who also happens to be a millionaire, is claiming that his patented holy water can cure people suffering from the deadly Ebola virus. He reportedly sent 4,000 bottles of the special water as a part of an aid package to Sierra Leone, via a private jet that cost $50,000. He is believed to have sent a cash donation of the same size, along with the water.

The news of Joshua’s holy water comes at a time when doctors and health workers are already trying to convince people in the rural areas that science could help them more than prayers or witchcraft. Nonetheless, the cash donation is certainly the need of the hour to stem the outbreak of Ebola in the West African nation.

The donation was confirmed by the office of Sierra Leone president Ernest Bai Koroma – the statement revealed that the cash was meant to ‘feed those affected by the Ebola outbreak’. The office, however, made no mention of the controversial holy water.

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Indian Priests Smash Coconuts on Devotees’ Heads in Bizarre Good Luck Ritual

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Every year, thousands of devotees travel to a remote village in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu to put themselves through a gruesome ritual that they hope will bring them good health and success. Believe it or not, men, women and even children willingly permit priests to smash hard coconuts on their skulls!

Breaking coconuts on a sacred stone as an offering to the deity is a common practice in South Indian temples. But breaking them on one’s own head is quite rare, and viewed as an extreme display of devotion. Several devotees squat on the floor in a line, waiting patiently as the temple priests approach with a sack of coconuts. One priest holds the heads firmly, while the other one brings down the coconuts without hesitation. The whole process is completed in a matter of minutes.

Some devotees can be seen wincing in pain as the coconuts come crashing on to their heads. Some massage their heads, while others promptly collect the broken pieces as holy offerings. Surprisingly, there are a few who don’t flinch at all – these people are often in a deep meditative state of prayer. Nonetheless, medical staff are always present to tend to serious injuries.

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The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei Put Olympic Athletes to Shame

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In the foothills of Mt. Hiei, to the northeast of Kyoto City, lies a huge, 1,200-year old temple complex called Enryakuji. The Tendai-shu monks who inhabit this place are better known to the world as ‘marathon monks’ for their amazing physical feats that put Olympic athletes to shame

Not all the Enryakuji monks are Tendai-shu; only some of them get special permission to participate in the sennichi kaihogyo, or the Thousand Day Challenge – one of the most rigorous spiritual challenges in the world. The trial lasts for seven years and involves walking a distance that is equal to circling the globe once over. During this test of physical and mental endurance, the monk sets on a journey to venerate Fudo-myo-o, the central deity of the Tendai, by visiting a series of religious sites located on Mount Hiei.

The selected monks are called ‘gyoja’ and their challenge consists of seven long years of pilgrimage  to over 250 sites on Mt. Hiei, which is one of the top three sacred places in Japan. During their visits, they need to cover a total of 1,000 long marathons, a feat that seems humanly impossible to accomplish.

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Chinese Girl Gives Up Her Successful Life as Luxury Goods Designer to Become a Buddhist Monk

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24-year-old Ting Tien has done something that’s not really expected of girls her age – she’s gone and given up all her material comforts to become a monk. In her former life, Ting lived in luxury; she was a fashion designer with access to the best of clothes and make up. But the shine of material objects wore off quite soon in Ting’s case and she chose to look for inner peace instead.

Ting, a native of Jinan City in Eastern China, attended the Qingdao University in Shandong Province, specializing in luxury goods design. But when she graduated, she became disillusioned with the lifestyle that she and her friends were leading. She found everything around her increasingly materialistic and too much to handle.

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