Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Police Beef Up Security After Church Is Robbed 3 Times

Boston police are searching for the thief who squeezed through a broken glass window at the Mission Church in Roxbury and was caught stealing on a surveillance camera.It's the third time in the past month that the church, which was the site of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's funeral in 2009, has been burglarized. Police are now beefing up patrols in the area.A white man with a reddish beard and a pink or red baseball cap, between 20 and 30, can be seen on the video breaking into the church office about midnight Monday.A church priest said the man stole a gold object. He called the theft disturbing and unsettling."It's nothing that anyone knows about. Nothing that we use on a regular basis. It might have been just some box that didn't have a whole lot of stuff in it, but no money," said the Rev. Raymond Collins."He walked past the shrine offering box," Collins said.The first theft took place in early November when a stained glass window was broken, and $300 was stolen from donation boxes. On Nov. 22, a burglar stole $150 after breaking in.It is not clear whether the same person committed all three burglaries."The video indicates that he appears to be somewhat in need and unstable, and that he needs some help. We do not know what he was after," Collins said.The priests will meet with police again Wednesday and will implement more stringent security measures. The Mission Church is not the only church that has been the target of burglars recently, and police said they were going to try to provide pastors with more security advice.

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High School Player Flagged For Praying After Touchdown

Sports and religion clashed at the State High School Football playoffs in Tacoma Monday night. During the 2A semifinal game between East Valley and Tumwater one of the stars of the game got flagged for doing something millions of Americans do every day.

Like he's done so many times this season, Tumwater star running back Ronnie Hastie powered his way into the end zone then dropped to a knee and pointed to the sky.

"It's just something I do every time I get in the end zone to honor my Lord cause I play for him, I give him the glory cause he's the one that gives me the strength," said Hastie.

Except this time, the referee flagged Hastie for unsportsmanlike conduct, a 15 yard penalty and the fans were peeved.

"I think it was a pretty lousy call I think it's just a game, even if it is a prayer it should go on."

According to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association's rules players cannot draw attention to themselves. So, when Hastie scored and raised his hand to heaven the refs said he was doing just that.

Hastie was humble about the call, "I was just confused cause I've done it every game and then I got flagged for it, I learned now so."

Even Tumwater's Head Coach Sid Otton believes the refs probably got the call right.

"If it's a rule and they made it then I agree with it because it's in there. I admire the young man. He's a great player, great person off the field too," said Otton.

The 15 yard penalty did not affect the outcome of the game, Tumwater still won big time, but one Tumwater fan told us it's legal to pray in his city in the end zone, but apparently not in Tacoma.

"Well, I thought it was pretty crummy that kids can't give thanks in public."

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U.S Veteran Fights To Prove He Is Alive To VA

Caswell County, NC -- An Army veteran is trying to prove he's alive so he can receive needed disability benefits.

Floyd Holmes, Jr. is sick, but alive. His wife, Marie, said after Holmes' son died several months ago, the Social Security Administration thought Floyd Holmes died. She said the couple straightened that out, but ever since, Floyd Holmes has not received his disability check from Veteran's Affairs.

"I'm about to have a nervous breakdown. I'm going to tell you the truth, I can't even think straight anymore. I get to walking around and doing circles, because I don't know what to do," Marie Holmes said.

Colon cancer started his health problems.

"It cost him his large intestines, then they got the infections, cost him his kidneys, which cost him his breathing," she said.

"I want those benefits back before we lose our home, before we freeze death," she said.

Floyd Holmes received treatment at a VA hospital as recently as the last couple of weeks, she said.

"They can't think he's dead, that's for darn sure or they're working on a dead man," she said.

Marie Holmes and an employee from the Durham VA Medical Center said they have not been able to get in touch with the proper people at Veterans Affairs regional office in Winston-Salem.

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Giant Menorah In Central ParkTo Mark Start Of Hanukkah

(CNN) -- A giant menorah will light the sky above New York on Wednesday to mark the start of Hanukkah, a Jewish holiday celebrated for eight days and nights.

Jews celebrate Hanukkah by lighting candles each night in a menorah, an eight-branch candelabra with a ninth, elevated branch known as a shamash.

Organizers will light the first candle of what they called the world's largest menorah at Central Park. Lighting of the menorah will be held at 5:30 p.m. daily through December 8.

The 32-foot high, gold-colored, 4,000 pound steel structure features genuine oil lamps, according to organizers. It has glass chimneys to protect the lights from strong winds.

The menorah marks Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights that mostly falls in December.

"The menorah stands as a symbol of freedom and democracy, strength and inspiration, delivering a timely and poignant message to each person on an individual basis," said Rabbi Shmuel M. Butman, director Lubavitch Youth Organization.

The shamash, which is lit first, is used to light the others candles each night of the holiday.

The holiday of Hanukkah celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after Syrians were chased out of the Holy Land. It also marks the eight days that a menorah burned with one day's worth of oil.

Celebrants exchange small gifts during Hanukkah.

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Atheist Group Spends $20,000 For Bilboard To Say Jesus's Birth Is A Myth

MYFOXNY.COM - A group called the American Atheists has paid for a huge billboard on Route 495 outside the Lincoln Tunnel in North Bergen, N.J., that is raising some eyebrows.

The billboard shows a silhouette of the Three Wise Men approaching the Nativity, with the words: "You KNOW it's a Myth / This Season, Celebrate REASON!"

The group says the billboard is not designed to convert Christians to atheism. Rather, Dave Silverman, a spokesman for the American Atheists, says the sign is designed to encourage existing atheists who are going through the motions of celebrating Christmas to stop.

On its website, the group also states that the billboard is meant to "attack the myth that Christianity owns the solstice season" and to "raise the awareness of the organization and the movement."

The American Atheists said the billboard cost $20,000. It is scheduled to remain on display through the holiday season.

Smithsonian Removes Controversal Video After Catholic Group Makes Complaint

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery quickly removed a video Tuesday that was part of an exhibit after complaints from a Catholic group that the images were sacrilegious.

Catholic League President Bill Donohue said the video by artist David Wojnarowicz depicting ants crawling on a crucifix was "hate speech" and designed to insult Christians.

After he was alerted to the piece Monday night by a New York Post reporter, Donohue began a campaign to urge Congress to cut public funding for the Smithsonian museum complex, he told The Associated Press.

"This is not the first time the Smithsonian has offended us," he said. "I'm going to cast my net much wider. Why should the government pay for this? ... How dare they take our money to fund attacks on (our religion)."

The Smithsonian receives public funding for its staff and facilities, but its exhibits are funded privately.

It's unusual for the Smithsonian to bow to public complaints so quickly, and curators were aware the exhibit could be controversial. Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas said the museum is responsive to its public audience but will stand behind the overall exhibit. The piece in question was on a video kiosk, and visitors had to call it up to view it. It was not a dominant part of the exhibit.

Donohue said his group has objected in the past to an article in Smithsonian magazine that he said was anti-Catholic and also to the museum featuring the work of artist Andres Serrano in 1996 because he had created a piece years earlier that placed a crucifix in his urine.

National Portrait Gallery Director Martin Sullivan said in a statement about the current video that Wojnarowicz's intention was to depict the suffering of an AIDS victim. He said the museum did not intend to offend anyone.

"I regret that some reports about the exhibit have created an impression that the video is intentionally sacrilegious," Sullivan said.

The video was made when the artist was suffering with AIDS in Mexico in the 1980s, Sullivan said. Part of the idea is that humans are made in Christ's image and that "we're all going back into the earth, that we're decaying," he said.

"If you look at Latin American art and imagery, really over time there are a lot of portrayals of Christian iconography with suffering, agony and death," Sullivan said.

The piece is part of the first major museum exhibit to show how sexual orientation and gender identity have shaped American art. The exhibit of 105 works is on view through February.

Portrait Gallery spokeswoman Bethany Bentley said attention on the video "has become a distraction to the larger themes of the exhibition." No visitors complained about the exhibit the day after Thanksgiving, one of the museum's busiest days of the year, she said.

When told the Smithsonian removed the video, Donohue said he was "relieved they made the right decision" and that the removal relieves his objections "a great deal." He said he did not object to the exhibit as a whole but specifically to parts he considered anti-Christian.

In the past, the New York-based Catholic League has protested an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum that included a portrait of the Virgin Mary, surrounded by elephant dung. Then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani called for city funding to the museum to be frozen, but a judge later ruled the move violated the First Amendment.

Donohue said he didn't believe the artwork at the Smithsonian was intended to portray an AIDS patient.

"If they're concerned about making a statement about AIDS, they could have chosen a better way to do it instead of insult us," he said. "I have more respect for art than these people do apparently."