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Religious Observations

SOME DOOMSDAY groups are capitalizing on the fear by spreading the Dec. 21 myth online. A Belgian amateur astronomer named Patrick Geryl has set up an online community for people who follow him and believe the world will end in three weeks. He tells followers to stockpile 15 to 20 pairs of shoes and to be in good physical shape. Geryl declined an interview request, saying over email, “No time for interviews. ... Want to enjoy last weeks of our civilization.”

http://tinyurl.com/bsotvu4

A MOTHER who beat her son to death for failing to learn the Koran by heart, murdered him and burned his body to hide the evidence, a jury has found. Sara Ege, 33, treated son Yaseen, 7, like a “dog,” brutally beating him with a stick for failing to memorise religious texts.

http://tinyurl.com/bvrmr8v

INMATES IN a women’s prison near the Chinese border are said to have experienced a “collective mass psychosis” so intense that their wardens summoned a priest to calm them. In a factory town east of Moscow, panicked citizens stripped shelves of matches, kerosene, sugar and candles. A huge Mayan-style archway is being built — out of ice — on Karl Marx Street in Chelyabinsk in the south. For those not schooled in New Age prophecy, there are rumours the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012, when a 5,125-year cycle known as the Long Count in the Mayan calendar supposedly comes to a close. Russia, a nation with a penchant for mystical thinking, has taken notice.

http://tinyurl.com/ce9kfnx

THE REIGNING scientific consensus on sexual orientation is that it’s an inherited, biological trait, but that’s just because scientists don’t know how to party. A far sexier explanation has been offered up by Christian magazine Charisma, which conducted its own investigation into the origins of homosexuality to reveal the real culprit: sex with demons. “Can demons engage in sexual behaviors with humans?” the magazine asks. Why yes, they can! At least according to the article’s primary source, a former stripper-turned-ministry leader named Contessa Adams.

http://tinyurl.com/cmsfg6q

WHEN WATER started trickling down a statue of Jesus Christ at a Catholic church in Mumbai earlier this year, locals were quick to declare a miracle. Some began collecting the holy water and the Church of Our Lady of Velankanni began to promote it as a site of pilgrimage. So when Sanal Edamaruku arrived and established that this was not holy water so much as holey plumbing, the backlash was severe. The renowned rationalist was accused of blasphemy, charged with offences that carry a three-year prison sentence and eventually, after receiving death threats, had to seek exile in Finland.

http://tinyurl.com/con82cc