UK probes Nigerian church where members sell blood, take loan for church

person

Spac Nation church, a church headed by a Nigerian in the UK is reportedly under investigation over its alleged methods of raising funds.

The church which is headed by Tobi Adegboyega who came to Britain in 2005, has been accused of pushing its young members into selling their blood and also taking bank loans which they allegedly donate to the church to fund the lavish lifestyle of its pastors.

The church which was praised by politicians in the past for rehabilitating youths linked to gang violence, came under scrutiny following a number of exposés which alleged that it was pressuring young members to beg, borrow and steal money for the church.

UK’s Charity Commission who confirmed the probe, said it was looking into the governance, management, policies and practices of Spac Nation church, a registered charity set up to spread Christianity, particularly in relation to the safeguarding of its beneficiaries and its financial arrangements.

Earlier this week, HuffPost UK reported that some Spac nation members allegedly took teenagers to donate blood for medical trials, in a practice known as “bleeding for seed”. The church has however denied the claim.

Labour MP Steve Reed, the Shadow Children’s Minister, previously told The Mail on Sunday:

‘The allegations I have received about Spac Nation from vulnerable young people are truly disturbing.

‘Victims are saying it is run like a cult. I want there to be a full investigation.’

The Charity Commission also revealed that Spac Nation had been subject to a regulatory compliance case since April 2018 after it received reports about safeguarding and financial concerns.

The commission said in a statement;

“Of immediate concern to the commission is that substantial amounts of charity money are held in cash. As a protective measure, the commission has issued an order under section 84 of the Charities Act, requiring the charity to bank its money.

“The commission is also concerned about the apparent lack of clarity between the personal, business and charity roles of leaders within the charity.

“Charities exist to improve lives and strengthen society; the issues that have been raised related to Spac Nation in recent weeks are highly concerning, even more so as the allegations are entirely at odds with the expectations about the way that charities will operate.

“The opening of this inquiry is an important step that will allow us to examine these concerns further and establish the facts. We will seek to provide assurance to the public and the community that these matters will be considered fully and, where necessary, resolved.”

However reacting to the inquiry, Spac Nation’s Board of Trustees said it was needful to lay to rest some unverified allegations.

Its statement partly reads;

“Inquiry is what we have always asked for. If anything is found wrong we will adjust it, and if not we will keep going strong.
“If any pastor or leader is caught pressuring people to donate, such leader will be expelled without delay, not to talk of pressuring to donate blood for money. We encourage people to donate blood and all they can for the community but we also say not for money ever, that just won’t happen here.”

Related posts

UK probes Nigerian church SPAC Nation, where members sell blood, take loan for church | P.M. News

person

Lead Pastor of SPAC Nation, Pastor Tobi Adegboyega preaching

SPAC Nation, a church being led by a Nigerian Tobi Adegboyega is being investigated in Britain over allegations that pastors were pressuring young members to sell their blood and also take bank loans to donate to the church and fund the lavish lifestyle of the pastors.

The Charity Commission said it has opened an inquiry into the church.

The commission, which describes the London church as a charity set up to ‘advance Christianity’ that works particularly with young people, has ordered it to bank all its money while the investigation takes place.

The commission announced the enquiry after HuffPost UK reported allegations that some members of the church had been taking teenagers to donate blood for medical trials in a practice known as ‘bleeding for seed’.act

Mariam Mbula another pastor of the church called Bling Church

The Mail On Sunday reported that SPAC Nation’s leaders had been accused of threatening parishioners who fail to raise enough money and one pastor had even urged her followers to ‘beg, borrow or steal’ in order to gather money for the church.

The newspaper revealed that one senior leader, Mariam Mola, 30, whose real name is Mariam Mbula, 30, had been jailed in the UK, Belgium and Spain, and was also wanted for leading a crime gang in Italy.

The senior leader, who had previously appeared on shows including This Morning and been praised for turning her life around after she was jailed for fraud at the age of 18, had at least 13 convictions for 34 offences; 27 for fraud and dishonesty.

Adegboyega’s home in the UK with Range Rovers

The Lamborghini owned by one of the pastors

It was also reported that Mbula had once preyed on a woman with a Down’s syndrome daughter in order to gain £15,000 from her funds.

Labour MP Steve Reed, the Shadow Children’s Minister, previously told The Mail on Sunday: ‘The allegations I have received about Spac Nation from vulnerable young people are truly disturbing.

‘Victims are saying it is run like a cult. I want there to be a full investigation.’

Scotland Yard said it was reviewing the complaints against the church, which is run by the 39 year-old Adegboyega, who came to Britain in 2005.

The church, which denies the claims, has previously been praised by politicians for its work in tackling gang violence and protecting young people at risk of knife crime.

The commission said a case had been opened on SPAC Nation in April last year, and in November this year information received from the trustees ‘raised further concerns about the charity’s financial controls, policy and procedures’.

In a statement, it added: ‘Of immediate concern to the commission is that substantial amounts of charity money are held in cash.

‘As a protective measure, the commission has issued an order under Section 84 of the Charities Act, requiring the charity to bank its money.

‘The commission is also concerned about the apparent lack of clarity between the personal, business and charity roles of leaders within the charity.’

SPAC Nation’s ‘Church of Bling’

The evangelical church claims to be a ‘faith based organisation that is committed in seeing the lives of young people being transformed’

The church, which featured in a BBC documentary last year, claims 55 per cent of its congregation are ex-gang members

A report with the commission’s findings is expected to be published once the investigation is concluded.

In a statement from its board of trustees, SPAC Nation said the inquiry was ‘needful to lay to rest some unverified allegations,’ adding: ‘Inquiry is what we have always asked for.

‘If anything is found wrong we will adjust it, and if not we will keep going strong.

‘If any pastor or leader is caught pressuring people to donate, such leader will be expelled without delay, not to talk of pressuring to donate blood for money.

‘We encourage people to donate blood and all they can for the community but we also say not for money ever, that just won’t happen here.’

Read More in Mail on Sunday

Related posts

Prince Harry Cried For The Sweetest Reason Tuesday Night

person

Prince Harry wore his emotions on his sleeve Tuesday night during the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s appearance at the annual WellChild Awards in London. 

The royal dad gave a speech at the awards, which pay tribute to sick children as well as their caregivers, and spoke about knowing he and Meghan were secretly pregnant at the same awards last year, prior to making the announcement public. 

“Last year, when my wife and I attended, we knew we were expecting our first child,” Harry said as his voice slightly started to break.

“No one else did at the time, but we did. And I remember…” the prince started to say, before he got emotional and stepped away from the mic. As fellow presenter Gaby Roslin reached out to comfort the duke, the crowd began clapping as he collected himself. 

Prince Harry reacts next to television presenter Gaby Roslin as he delivers a speech during the WellChild Awards Ceremony reception in London on Oct. 15. 

“I remember squeezing Meghan’s hand so tight during the awards, both of us thinking what it would be like to be parents one day,” he said, after beginning his speech again. “And more so, what it would be like to do everything we could to protect and help our child should they be born with immediate challenges or become unwell over time.” 

“And now ― as parents ― being here and speaking to all of you pulls at my heartstrings in a way I could have never understood until I had a child of my own,” he said. 

Harry and Meghan Markle welcomed their son, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, in May. 

At the awards on Tuesday night, the two confirmed that their little one indeed has red hair, just like dad, during a conversation with Angela Sunderland and her daughter Milly, 11, at the awards. 

“Meghan said he has and Harry said he definitely [has], you can see it in his eyebrows,” the mother said, according to the Mirror.

“Harry said he’d had no hair for five months, but Meghan told him she had taken him to the playgroup and she said there were other children there with the same amount of hair or even less,” she added.

We’ll have to keep an eye(brow) out. 

Little Archie visits the Desmond & Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa, on Sept. 25.

Subscribe to HuffPost’s Watching the Royals newsletter for all things Windsor (and beyond).

Related posts

U.S. Public Lands Chief Says His Positions On Climate, Immigrants Don’t Matter

Featured Video Play Icon

FORT COLLINS, Colo. ― William Perry Pendley, the controversial acting director of the Bureau of Land Management, told a room full of journalists on Friday that his opinions on climate change and immigrants are “irrelevant” to his job overseeing 245 million acres of public land.

Speaking on a panel at the Society of Environmental Journalists’ annual conference, Pendley, a conservative lawyer who has spent his career fighting federal land protections and environmental regulation, sparred repeatedly with reporters.

He refused to comment about his past statements that cast doubt on basic climate science and compared immigrants to a “cancer.” He also repeatedly responded to questions by saying, “I disagree with your premise.”

As recently as February, Pendley compared the climate crisis to a “unicorn” because “neither exists.”

Asked to clarify his position on Friday, he deferred to his boss, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist who has said he hasn’t lost sleep over soaring atmospheric carbon dioxide and blamed Congress for his own inaction on the climate. Bernhardt had been scheduled to appear at the conference but canceled.

“I’m not a scientist, I’m a lawyer,” Pendley said. “I defer to the secretary. He’s been very clear on this subject. He believes that climate change is real, that mankind has an impact, that we’re unable to project future climate conditions, but that we need to understand the consequences.”

Asked again about his own views, Pendley balked: “Nope, I’m not going to clarify. Those are my personal opinions,” he said. “I’m a Marine. I follow orders.”

Pendley added that he has not been briefed on climate impacts to America’s public lands in the three months he’s been acting head of the  BLM.

In 2007, Pendley referred to undocumented immigrants as “spreading like a cancer” in a fundraising mailer for his legal fund resurfaced by CNN this week. When pressed on Friday about the statement, Pendley brushed off the question entirely.

“My personal opinions are irrelevant,” he said. “I have a new job now. I’m a zealous advocate for my client. My client is the American people and my bosses are the president of the United States and Secretary Bernhardt. What I thought, what I wrote, what I did in the past is irrelevant. I have orders, I have laws to obey, and I intend to do that.”

Pendley didn’t hesitate, though, to slam Democratic presidential candidates who have pledged to stop new fossil fuel leasing on public lands for fossil fuel development if elected.

My personal opinions are irrelevant. William Perry Pendley

The room, as moderators requested, refrained from clapping or booing throughout the panel, which included a gas company executive, the Fort Collins mayor, an American Indian studies academic, an environmentalist and a representative of the outdoor recreation industry. But at one point, the audience in the packed auditorium at Colorado State University gasped as Pendley abruptly interrupted a Denver Post reporter as she asked a follow-up question, saying, “You want to ask a question and get an answer or do you want to keep talking?”

Pendley was asked about the BLM’s decision in May to scrub language about land stewardship from its news releases, which now exclusively highlights the economic value of America’s public lands. He initially shrugged and whispered inaudibly to Shea Loper, the U.S. government relations chief for the Canadian gas giant Encana Corp. He said he was unable to speak to the decision because it occurred before he arrived at the agency.

“I can’t respond to your question,” he said. “I’m sorry.”

At the end of the discussion, panelists were asked what they view as the biggest threat facing public lands today. Pendley responded, “I’ll get really in the weeds. I think the biggest issue I see is the wild horse and burro issue. We have 88,000 wild horses and burros on our Western federal lands. They are causing havoc on the lands.”

Related posts

Chance The Rapper’s Wife Kirsten Bennett Gets Real About Postpartum Life

Kirsten Bennett has opened up about postpartum life, months after giving birth to her second daughter, Marli, with Chance The Rapper in August. 

In an Instagram post published Wednesday, Bennett helped bring awareness to the realities of recovering from childbirth by sharing a note about her own experience.

“Mommy loves you my sweet Marli Grace,” she wrote in a caption of a photo showing her holding her baby girl. “Postpartum does not get any easier – even with your second, but It will always be worth it for my babies. I can’t wait to watch you grow up.” 

Chance The Rapper shared the same photo of Bennett and Marli on his Instagram account, writing in the caption: “Dear Jesus, Thank you. She too fine.”

Bennett and Chance The Rapper are also parents to daughter Kensli, who was born in September of 2015.

“The Big Day” rapper revealed on social media last month that he delayed a planned tour to be as “helpful and available as possible” to his family after Marli was born. 

“I need to be as helpful and available as possible to my wife in these early months of raising Kensli and Marli,” he wrote in a lengthy caption on Instagram. 

A number of celebrity moms have helped to tackle postpartum stigmas by being outspoken about what many women experience after giving birth, which can include postpartum depression, body pains, bleeding and incontinence. 

In 2017, supermodel and cookbook author Chrissy Teigen shared in an essay for Glamour that she had postpartum depression after welcoming her daughter, Luna, with husband John Legend in 2016. 

Shortly after Luna was born, a typically-candid Teigen memorably tweeted, “No one told me i would be coming home in diapers too.”

Related posts

Progressives Are Divided On How To Approach The Impeachment Process

Algorithmia AI Generated Summary

When House Speaker support for an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump last week, some of the most pointed criticism of her leadership evaporated in an instant.

Need to Impeach, the nonprofit funded by billionaire Tom Steyer that had been a thorn in Pelosi’s side for the better part of two years, only had good things to say.

“People will look back at this moment as the day Congress stood up for democracy, American values, and our constitution and fought back against the corrupt, criminal president, Donald Trump,” Nathaly Arriola, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.

Need to Impeach has now turned its attention to vulnerable Senate Republicans, whom it announced on Tuesday it will be pressing to back impeachment with over $3 million in television and digital advertisements. 

But beneath the praise and comity, there is some disagreement among progressive groups as to how to proceed.

At one end of the debate is a smaller group of progressive activists and experts worried that the impeachment inquiry risks at once dragging on too long and covering too few of the president’s infractions.

And on the other side of the spectrum are groups like Need to Impeach, as well as officials, activists and strategists who see no need, for the time being, to exert additional public pressure on congressional Democrats.

“We’re getting it right here,” said Greg Pinelo, a veteran Democratic media strategist who helped develop advertisements for both Obama campaigns. “You can argue about whether we should have got here sooner. But facts on the ground change ― and the facts on the ground right now suggest a really focused effort.”

news

Speaker Pelosi, right, addressed reporters alongside Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Her support for an impeachment inquiry has largely quieted critics.

Not everyone is content though. Heidi Hess, who runs the progressive phone company Credo’s issue campaigns at Credo Action, expressed disappointment in Speaker Pelosi’s press conference on Tuesday. 

Hess is calling for a timeline for completing the investigation and a deadline to vote on articles of impeachment that are reported out. She fears that allowing the process to drag on could give Trump an opportunity to sow more chaos and diminish public support for the process.

“Unless we have deadlines, then for us, that is still them telegraphing that what [Democrats] want is to stall,” she said.

Credo Action, the nonpartisan, pro-democracy nonprofit Free Speech for People and several other groups have called for the House Judiciary Committee to report out articles of impeachment against Trump by Nov. 1 and a vote on those articles by Nov. 15. They are also demanding an immediate end to the current congressional recess in the interest of expediting the process.

Another priority for these liberal critics is impeaching Trump on the broadest possible grounds, which they worry Democratic leadership is not adequately interested in. Credo Action is part of a coalition of liberal groups and legal experts, under the intellectual leadership of Free Speech for People, calling for Trump to be impeached for at least 12 different reasons. The reasons, which the groups outlined in a July 30 letter to the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York, fall under the broad categories of abuse of power, corruption of the electoral process, promotion of racial hostility, and corruption and self-enrichment.

“We remain deeply concerned that Congress is not addressing this constitutional crisis with the urgency that’s required at the moment,” said John Bonifaz, an attorney and co-founder of Free Speech for People. 

Bonifaz helped develop the coalition’s list of impeachable offenses and advised Democratic Reps. Al Green of Texas and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan on their earlier efforts to initiate impeachment inquiries. He worries that failure to hold Trump accountable for the full scope of his misconduct could again set an “extremely dangerous precedent” for presidential impunity.

Hess cited the possibility of a repeat of the articles of impeachment against then-President Richard Nixon. Congress chose not to issue articles of impeachment related to Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia, which Hess and other left-leaning activists regard as a mistake that helped future presidents prosecute foreign interventions illegally.

Pelosi has not set any explicit deadlines for the House Judiciary Committee to report out articles of impeachment. But at a press conference on Wednesday, the speaker warned that refusals by the Trump administration to cooperate with the House’s investigation into Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter would be regarded as obstruction of justice. 

“We do not want this to drag on for months and months, which appears to be the [White House’s] strategy,” Pelosi said. 

A lot of the work on the other misconduct has already been done. I think [impeachment] will be broad and fast. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.)

Pelosi has also said that House committees investigating other elements of Trump’s potential misconduct will report their findings to the Judiciary Committee, leaving open the possibility that impeachment will cover a broader range of matters.

Rep. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat and vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, stood out among his colleagues with a public appeal last week for Congress to postpone its two-week recess in order to work on the impeachment inquiry. He predicted that focusing on a broad range of Trump’s misdeeds is compatible with a rapid process. 

“A lot of the work on the other misconduct has already been done,” Khanna told HuffPost. “I think [impeachment] will be broad and fast.” 

But assurances like those are not enough for Hess, Bonifaz and some other outspoken progressives who worry that the absence of firmer commitments from Pelosi right now, when the pressure to placate the grassroots is perhaps greatest, raises the risk of a looser approach going forward. 

The trouble for these Pelosi critics is that many of their normally allied organizations and activists are thus far unwilling to publicly criticize the speaker’s management of the process. 

Spokespeople for the Democracy for America, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Indivisible all expressed support for an impeachment process that is both prompt and broad in scope without joining in criticism of Pelosi.

Meagan Hatcher-Mays, who runs Indivisible’s democracy program, shared Hess’ commitment to a rapid process, as well as a wide-ranging inquiry. “Every day that he’s in office is a new threat to our election security,” she said. But Indivisible is not setting out a hard deadline; Hatcher-Mays said the group hopes it nears completion before Thanksgiving. 

Similarly, PCCC spokeswoman Maria Langholz called Pelosi’s approach of having committees of jurisdiction submit to the Judiciary Committee the results of their investigations into Trump “smart.”

And Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America, which rivals Credo Action and PCCC in online organizing heft, suggested a middle path in terms of the scope of the impeachment articles ― something shy of 12, but more than just one about Trump’s pressure on Ukraine.

Chamberlain said he is “not really concerned” with the speed of the process so far, but he would like to see the House move on it quickly so it can proceed to the Senate. The sooner it gets there, he argued, the sooner it can be used against Republicans senators up for reelection in swing states.

“The Senate has the most to lose here,” he said.

Related posts

The Impeachment Story Is Simple. Republicans Are Trying To Confuse You.

WASHINGTON ― The story behind why Democrats are moving forward with an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump is simple.

The president repeatedly pressured a foreign government to meddle in the 2020 U.S. election to help him win. It’s all there in the White House summary of Trump’s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president. It’s corroborated by the subsequent whistleblower complaint. And Trump keeps telling other countries to do it, too, on live television.

The Republican strategy to respond to this is to create total confusion, namely by focusing on the arcane legal process of whistleblower law. Not only are their claims false, they are irrelevant to the facts of Trump’s abuse of power.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is out in front trying to lose people in the arcana of process and distract from what Trump did. He seized on a Wednesday New York Times report that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) got advance word of the whistleblower’s report and falsely claimed that Schiff orchestrated the complaint.

“Democrats have rigged this process from the start,” McCarthy tweeted Wednesday, linking to the Times story.

What the story actually said was that the whistleblower initially approached an Intelligence Committee staffer with a vague accusation. The staffer told the whistleblower to file a formal complaint through proper channels, per protocol, and then shared some of what the whistleblower said with Schiff, who never even knew the whistleblower’s identity.

The whistleblower did exactly what they were supposed to do. The intelligence community whistleblower process lists the congressional intelligence committees as a venue that a whistleblower may take their complaint or approach about how to proceed with a complaint.

Republicans already know that whistleblowers are encouraged to go straight to committees with a complaint. The GOP’s own page on the House Oversight and Reform website prominently features a link that literally says “blow the whistle” and offers a form for filing a complaint.

“In my experience, it’s more than common for potential whistleblowers to contact the congressional intelligence committees directly in order to obtain guidance on the proper way to disclose wrongdoing,” Irvin McCullough, an intelligence community whistleblower expert at the Government Accountability Project, told HuffPost.

“The process by which intelligence community employees and contractors can report wrongdoing is extremely complex and convoluted,” he added. “You need someone that can help usher you along that process, whether that is a congressional intelligence committee staff or an experienced attorney.”

news

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is among the GOP leaders spreading false information about the Ukraine whistleblower complaint. It’s all part of a strategy to take attention off of what Trump actually did.

Aides to Sens. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Mark Warner (D-Va.), the ranking member, said on Wednesday that the whistleblower followed proper procedure by asking the House Intelligence Committee for guidance on how to file a complaint. That’s on top of the intelligence community inspector general and Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, both publicly stating that the whistleblower had done everything by the book.

Another glaring hole in McCarthy’s claim is that the White House, Trump’s personal attorney and Trump himself have all separately corroborated the whistleblower’s claims. Even before releasing the transcript, the president admitted that he brought up Joe Biden with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. His lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has repeatedly said he was right to do so.

The president said his conversation with Zelensky was about corruption, too. “It was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption [sic] already in the Ukraine,” Trump said on Sept. 22.

Additionally, the call summary revealed Trump tying talks about U.S. military aid to Ukraine to his request for investigations into his potential 2020 rival Biden and Biden’s son Hunter. At the time of the call, Trump had suspended the provision of all aid to Ukraine. Zelensky was not aware of the U.S. suspension of aid until weeks after the call.

It’s more than common for potential whistleblowers to contact the congressional intelligence committees directly in order to obtain guidance on the proper way to disclose wrongdoing. Irvin McCullough, an intelligence community whistleblower expert

Republicans are trying to paper over these facts with confusion, conspiracies and flat-out lies about how Democrats are proceeding in their investigation.

“This is looking more & more like a deep state scheme,” House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) tweeted Wednesday, invoking an insane conspiracy theory as an explanation for how Schiff got wind of a whistleblower complaint before it was filed.

“Schiff told the media on September 17: ‘We have not spoken directly with the whistleblower. We would like to.’ He lied. The question is why?” McCarthy tweeted Wednesday, falsely claiming Schiff had spoken with the whistleblower when he had not.

GOP senators, meanwhile, have been spreading misinformation to try to smear the credibility of the whistleblower. They have argued that in order to be considered a “real” whistleblower, you have to have firsthand information of a situation, which is false.

“By definition, he’s not a whistleblower because he was reporting hearsay,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) incorrectly told reporters last week. “I think that we are giving too much credence, or at least credit, to someone who does not meet the definition of a whistleblower.”

“It’s not a whistleblower because he wasn’t in the room. He wasn’t on the phone call,” Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) said last week, also falsely.

They were publicly corrected on Tuesday by one of their own colleagues, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), a longtime advocate of whistleblower safeguards.

“The distinctions being drawn between first- and second-hand knowledge aren’t legal ones,” said Grassley. “It’s just not part of whistleblower protection law or any agency policy.”

He added, “This person appears to have followed the whistleblower protection laws and ought to be heard out and protected.”

Related posts

Photographer Behind Shocking ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Wedding Pic Says It’s Not What You Think

“What… and I cannot stress this enough… the f**k,” read a caption on the “Hey Ladies” Instagram page on Thursday

The colorful language was posted beneath a wedding photo in which a couple is seen kissing in front of what fans of the “Handmaid’s Tale” television series will recognize as the “hanging wall.” The newlyweds are surrounded by “handmaids” — women in red gowns and white bonnets.

To say social media users found the image to be in poor taste would be an understatement. The photo rapidly circulated across Instagram and Twitter, leaving many scratching their heads as to what would prompt anyone to glorify the oppressive, dystopian Gilead ― the setting for Margaret Atwood’s terrifying novel and the hit Hulu show ― and, more specifically, the site in the story where people are executed for being queer; disobeying the fanatical religious patriarchal rulers; or trying to escape. 

Shawn Van Daele, who, along with his husband, owns the Toronto-based photography company responsible for the image, told HuffPost that they knew exactly what they were doing when they created the photo. 

“Anyone who would put out an image like this without understanding what it implies has bigger problems than upset people on social media,” he said in an email on Thursday. “I knew when creating the image that it would [possibly] upset people but that’s sort of the point. To wake people up.”

Van Daele said he and his husband “didn’t expect the photo to go viral” but were pleased that it had, saying that “hopefully it will wake people up to how they too contribute to the oppression and hatred they are rightfully worked up over.”

According to Van Daele, he and his husband and the newlyweds are all “fans of the TV show (and obviously, first, the book).” 

He said that they had previously done photo shoots at Cambridge Mill, a restaurant on the river in Cambridge, Ontario, where the show has also filmed, and had “no trepidation about shooting there.” He stressed that as a gay married couple, the image is deeply personal for him and husband Clint Russell because it emphasizes the oppression faced by minority groups.

“This image was created and put out by a pair of ‘gender traitors’ who are no strangers to many of the subplots of oppression, violence and inequality that run through Margaret’s brilliant work,” he said, referencing the persecution of people who deviate from traditional gender norms in Gilead. 

Taking a photo in front of the “hanging wall” was the groom’s idea, Van Daele said. The “handmaids” were not bridal party participants; Van Daele photoshopped them in. (“It seemed the natural thing to do since we were there,” he added. “I’m certain any ‘creative’ or photographer would have the exact same thoughts.”)

When HuffPost first reached out to Van Daele on Thursday, he said they thought about taking down the photos but worried that “all the hatred” would “trickle over” to pictures of other couples on the photographers’ Instagram page, and didn’t want it to seem like Van Daele and Russell were “hiding from anything.”

However, later on Thursday, the picture had been deleted from the account “at the request of the couple,” Van Daele said, “because they’re being harassed – which is an absolute shame.”

The couple “are rightfully overwhelmed and distraught right now, despite previously loving the photo, since it’s from one of their favourite shows. Having the world try and ruin their wedding day and paint them out to be horrible people (there are people of every race, colour & sexual orientation in their wedding party) is a little disheartening,” he said. 

The bride and groom did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment. 

Related posts

Dan Levy Of Schitts Creek Once Feared Having To Keep Sexuality A Secret For Life

When it comes to showcasing LGBTQ-inclusive stories for a mainstream audience, Dan Levy aims to “lead by example.”

The Canadian actor and writer has earned near-universal accolades for “Schitt’s Creek,” now filming its sixth and final season. Speaking at the 2019 GLAAD Gala San Francisco on Saturday, however, Levy recalled how his early experiences coming to terms with his sexuality fueled his interest in using his creativity to impact Hollywood for the better. 

“Standing up here, it’s hard not to think back to a very specific time in my life when I was still in the closet,” said Levy, who accepted GLAAD’s Davidson/Valentini Award for his LGBTQ advocacy work. “I was in high school (in Tornto), I had a bad faux-hawk because the first ‘Mission: Impossible’ movie had just come out and I thought Tom Cruise was a real drink of water.” (Watch the full speech in the video above.) 

Not living honestly and authentically, he added, came at a deeply personal cost. 

“I legitimately thought that I would have to live with this secret — my being gay — for the rest of my life because I didn’t have the security of seeing a lot of people like myself being celebrated in popular culture,” he said. 

Levy ― the son of actor Eugene Levy and screenwriter Deborah Divine Levy ― came to rely on his family’s “fierce and unconditional” love for support before coming out at 18. Others, he said, have not been so fortunate.

“Had I not had the love to give me a sense of security, I don’t know if I would have found my way out of the closet, let alone create the opportunity for myself to tell stories on television that have effected some kind of positive change in the world,” he said. “Support, encouragement and love: three relatively simple acts of kindness that can change the course of a person’s life.”

A desire to pay it forward, he said, was the impetus that led to the creation of “Schitt’s Creek,” in which he stars as David, a fashion-forward, pansexual man engaged to a gay man, Patrick (Noah Reid). And though “Schitt’s Creek” will be coming to a close after its sixth season airs next year, Levy pledged to continue incorporating LGBTQ-inclusive narratives in his future projects. 

“I promise to continue to do my part in celebrating this radiant community in all the work that I do, big and small,” the 36-year-old said.  

Levy’s profile in Hollywood has risen exponentially since “Schitt’s Creek” became available for streaming on Netflix in 2017, two years after its debut on the little-known U.S. cable network Pop TV. 

Earlier this month, he signed a three-year deal to develop and produce new projects with Disney’s ABC Studios.

Related posts

Rudy Giuliani Laughs At Subpoena On Fox News: They Seem To Forget That Im A Lawyer

Just hours after being issued a subpoena from top congressional Democrats, Rudy Giuliani appeared on Fox News to defend his involvement with Ukraine, actions that have become central to an impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump

Trump’s personal attorney appeared on Sean Hannity’s program as part of his latest effort to distance himself from the political whirlwind surrounding Trump’s July 25 call with the Ukrainian president.

During the “Hannity” segment, Giuliani appeared to question the motives behind the subpoenas while defending his communications with officials in Ukraine about investigating former Vice President Joe Biden, a top Trump rival in the 2020 presidential campaign. He also reminded viewers that he was a professional lawyer as he pushed unfounded conspiracy theories targeting a spate of his boss’s political rivals.

“These people are such intellectual heavyweights, I don’t know if I could handle Schiff,” Giuliani said Monday, appearing to joke about Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chair of the House Intelligence Committee who recently sent him a subpoena.

Giuliani went on to push unfounded claims about the Biden family, Trump’s 2016 political rival Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama.

“Wake up, Democrats. You are covering up corruption, and by the time this is over, you’re going to be the party of corruption,” Giuliani said. Earlier in the show, he noted that lawmakers “seem to forget that I’m a lawyer. If I were defending a terrorist, they’d be going crazy that I was called before a committee.”

The chairs of multiple House committees subpoenaed Giuliani and three of his associates Monday as part of the inquiry, demanding he produce communications and other documents related to his work for the president. The subpoena pertains to material from Jan. 20, 2017, the day before Trump’s inauguration, to the present.

“Our inquiry includes an investigation of credible allegations that you acted as an agent of the president in a scheme to advance his personal political interests by abusing the power of the office of the president,” said the letter, signed by Schiff and two other Democratic congressmen: Eliot Engel (N.Y.), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Elijah Cummings (Md.), chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

Giuliani must comply with the subpoena by Oct. 15, although the former New York City mayor has already pushed back on its merits, claiming on Twitter that it raised “significant issues concerning legitimacy.”

House Democrats are investigating Giuliani’s role in the unfolding scandal over Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as part of their impeachment inquiry.

During the July conversation, Trump repeatedly pressured Zelensky to investigate Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company for five years. A reconstruction of the call released last week showed Trump asking Zelensky for a “favor” shorty after Zelensky brought up millions in military aid the U.S. had appropriated for Ukraine.

Neither Biden has been accused of any wrongdoing, despite Giuliani’s claims.

Giuliani appears to be one of the central figures related to that favor, which Democrats have called an unprecedented quid pro quo for political dirt. The attorney is mentioned multiple times in a formal whistleblower complaint about the call, and he has admitted in television interviews that he met with Ukrainian operatives. But Giuliani has recently said he did so at the behest of the State Department. Trump has also denied any impropriety and moved to discredit the unnamed whistleblower.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also been issued a subpoena by House Democrats.

Giuliani’s whirlwind media appearances have prompted frustration from Democrats in recent days, including from the Biden campaign. The former vice president’s staff recently asked news executives to stop booking Giuliani on their shows, saying he was using the appearance to spread “false, debunked conspiracy theories.”

“Giuliani is not enlightening your viewers in any way. He’s not offering a unique or informed perspective,” the Biden camp wrote in the letter last week. “He’s certainly not introducing new facts, since his relationship with the truth is casual at best.”

House Democrats have, however, pointed to the lawyer’s own statements on CNN to back up their request for the subpoena.

“You stated more recently that you are in possession of evidence ― in the form of text messages, phone records, and other communications ― indicating that you were not acting alone and that other Trump Administration officials may have been involved in this scheme,” they wrote.

Related posts