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Religious News Verses: Lies and Holy Hoaxes – Arkeologists, Prayer and Gays

news storyThe biblical story of Noah's Ark has deep ties into ancient mythologies that are centuries older than the Hebrew writings.  In an effort to prove the accuracy of the bible, however, believers have been searching for the remains of Noah's Ark for decades.  None of the archaeological findings from these searches have withstood the tests of science. The latest was a "find" by a Chinese/Turkish evangelical team who claimed that they were 99% sure they had discovered the elusive ark.

We've been skeptical about the alleged Noah's Ark discovery — and it turns out that our skepticism was warranted.  In fact, the "discovery" may be more than just a simple problem of  mistaken science.  An archeologist at Liberty University, a Christian college, claims that he has firsthand knowledge that the whole thing was a hoax:

I was the archaeologist with the Chinese expedition in the summer of 2008 and was given photos of what they now are reporting to be the inside of the Ark. I and my partners invested $100,000 in this expedition (described below) which they have retained, despite their promise and our requests to return it, since it was not used for the expedition. The information given below is my opinion based on what I have seen and heard (from others who claim to have been eyewitnesses or know the exact details).

To make a long story short: this is all reported to be a fake. The photos were reputed to have been taken off site near the Black Sea, but the film footage the Chinese now have was shot on location on Mt. Ararat. In the late summer of 2008 ten Kurdish workers hired by Parasut, the guide used by the Chinese, are said to have planted large wood beams taken from an old structure in the Black Sea area (where the photos were originally taken) at the Mt. Ararat site. In the winter of 2008 a Chinese climber taken by Parasut's men to the site saw the wood, but couldn't get inside because of the severe weather conditions. During the summer of 2009 more wood was planted inside a cave at the site. The Chinese team went in the late summer of 2009 (I was there at the time and knew about the hoax) and was shown the cave with the wood and made their film. As I said, I have the photos of the inside of the so-called Ark (that show cobwebs in the corners of rafters – something just not possible in these conditions) and our Kurdish partner in Dogubabyazit [stet] (the village at the foot of Mt. Ararat) has all of the facts about the location, the men who planted the wood, and even the truck that transported it.

The "arkeologists' designation came from the following news story:

Speaking of misrepresentations, the Family Research Council and others have been regurgitating their arguments against the hate crimes legislation in order to convince conservative voters that ENDA is just as evil.  Good As You points out the distortions of truth, such as the alleged loss of religious liberties.

The arguments against ENDA, which would prohibit employment discrimination against gays and lesbians, are mild compared with remarks made by Virginia's District Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio who claimed in a fundraising letter that he had visited a warehouse to "see for himself" the activities of an army of scary homosexual radicals:

One stormy night I drove to a mailshop hidden deep in a nearly deserted stand of warehouses. I'd heard something was up and wanted to see for myself.

As I rounded the final turn my eyes nearly popped. Tractor-trailers pulled up to loading docks, cars and vans everywhere and long-haired, earring-pierced men scurrying around running forklifts, inserters and huge printing presses.

Trembling with worry I went inside. It was worse than I ever imagined.

Row after row of boxes bulging with pro-homosexual petitions lined the walls, stacked to the ceiling.

My mind reeled as I realized hundreds, maybe thousands, more boxes were already loaded on the tractor-trailers. And still more petitions were flying off the press.

The emotional fervor against gays isn't the only thing going on in the far Christian right.  The National Day of Prayer has also spiked intense feelings.

The religious right has been furious about the Pentagon's dismissal of Franklin Graham from leading the National Day of Prayer, blaming the Military Religious Freedom Foundation for supposedly "blaspheming" Christianity. The latest has been a call for Christians to sign a petition to reinstate Graham (for an example of the hateful letters directed to Military Religious Freedom Foundation board members, go here).

As we've pointed out at God Discussion over the past year, the National Day of Prayer has been usurped by the far Christian right, which has posted a "task force" web page that may be misleading in that it calls itself the "official" site.  This task force has shunned Mormons and other religious groups that do not conform with the Lausanne Covenant.

Rachel Tabachnick has written an outstanding review of the Lausanne Covenant and a history of how the National Day of Prayer has been usurped by the Christian dominionist movement in Hijacking the National Day of Prayer.  Tabachnick's article is an eye opener.

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