The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is recruiting priests and theologians to assess how the world’s major religions would react to the news of discovering extraterrestrial life and advise the agency on how to quell civil unrest upon the revelation.
The agency has enlisted 24 religious experts to develop protocols for the discovery of alien life in its Center for Theological Inquiry program at Princeton University in New Jersey.
NASA provided CTI with a $1.1 million grant to create the program devoted to researching “the societal implications of astrobiology” in 2015.
According to its website, CTI “builds bridges of understanding by convening theologians, scientists, scholars and policymakers to think together — and inform public thinking — on global concerns.
“It just doesn’t sit right with me,” begins a TikTok by a user named Evelyn Juarez. It’s a breakdown of the tragedy at Astroworld, the Travis Scott concert in early November where eight people died and more than 300 were injured. But the video isn’t about what actually happened there. It’s about the supposed satanic symbolism of the set: “They tryna tell us something, we just keep ignoring all the signs,” reads its caption, followed by the hashtags #wakeup, #witchcraft, and #illuminati.
Juarez, a 25-year-old in Dallas, is a typical TikToker, albeit a quite popular one, with 1.4 million followers. Many of her videos reveal an interest in true crime and conspiracy theories — the Gabby Petito case, for instance, or Lil Nas X’s “devil shoes,” or the theory that multiple world governments are hiding information about Antarctica. One of her videos from November suggests that a survey sent to Texas residents about the use of electricity for critical health care could signify that “something is coming and [the state government] knows it.”
Her beliefs are reminiscent of many others on the internet, people who speak of “bad vibes,” demonic spirits, or a cosmic calamity looming just over the horizon, one that the government may be trying to keep secret. Juarez tells me she was raised Christian, although at age 19 she began to have a more personal relationship with God outside of organized religion.
Today, she identifies more as spiritual, as an increasing number of young people do, many of them working out their ideas in real time online. They may talk about manifesting their dreams and faceless sex traffickers waiting to install tracking devices on women’s parked cars. Some might act almost as prophets or shamans, spreading the good word and guiding prospective believers, while others might just lurk in the comments. They might believe all or only some of these ideas — part of the draw of internet spirituality is that it’s perfectly pick-and-choosable — but more than anything, they believe in the importance of keeping an open mind to whatever else might be out there.
I asked Joseph Russo, a professor of anthropology at Wesleyan University, if this loosely related web of beliefs could ever come together to form into its own kind of religion. “I think it already has,” he says.
A superseding indictment unsealed today charges the founder of a Philippines-based church and two top administrators of orchestrating a sex trafficking operation that coerced girls and young women to have sex with the church’s leader under threats of “eternal damnation.”
The superseding indictment expands on allegations made early last year against three Los Angeles-based administrators of the church, which is known as the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (KOJC). The nine defendants named in the 42-count superseding indictment are charged with participating in a labor trafficking scheme that brought church members to the United States, via fraudulently obtained visas, and forced the members to solicit donations for a bogus charity – the Glendale-based Children’s Joy Foundation (CJF) – donations that actually were used to finance church operations and the lavish lifestyles of its leaders. Members who proved successful at soliciting for the KOJC allegedly were forced to enter into sham marriages or obtain fraudulent student visas to continue soliciting in the United States year-round.
The superseding indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury on November 10, expands the scope of the 2020 indictment by adding six new defendants, including the KOJC’s leader, Apollo Carreon Quiboloy, who was referred to as “The Appointed Son of God.”
Three of the new defendants were arrested today by federal authorities. The remaining three, including Quiboloy, are believed to be in the Philippines.
Darkness descends over civilization and freedom. It flows not from any external threat but from within the human heart. We are beings capable of happiness and flourishing, but sometimes we push our fears and anxieties into the shadows. There they fester. And from those deep psychological bowers, fear and anxiety reemerge transformed.
To live right now, then, is to live in paradox. Despite conditions of relative peace and abundance, a psychosocial pathology has taken hold. It manifests itself as something like a replacement religion. Where people once turned to their temples and communities for reassurance, more turn now to political authority. Merchants of fear magnify the significance of certain human problems, which obscures complicated truths and feeds the dogmas of this new faith. Adherents believe they are on the side of the angels, but their faith threatens to bring about a new Dark Age. Why? Because more and more people in the grip of this religion are willing to use illiberal means.
A Jamaican preacher and 41 of his congregants were arrested last week after two people were killed during an alleged “human sacrifice.”
Kevin O. Smith, a self-proclaimed “prophet,” and the church members were arrested for slitting the throats of 39-year-old office worker Tanecka Gardner and an unidentified man.
Friends told the Jamaica Observer Gardner had been buying “essentials” in the weeks before her death, as Smith told his congregants that a flood was about to sweep in.
“Even recently, she has been stocking up on kerosene oil and cooking oil,” a friend told the Observer. “She told me that the pastor said that they must buy brown rice because something is going to happen.”
The day of the murders, Smith ordered parishioners to dress in white, wrap their cellphones in tin foil, leave the devices at home and head to the church, the Mirror reported.