Friday, April 29, 2011

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11 Christians in Iran are in COURT over their Faith

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the Christians are to stand trial before the Revolutionary Tribunal of Bandar-Anzali.

The Christians on trial include Pastor Abdolreza Ali-Haghnejad and his wife Anahita Khademi, Mahmoud Khosh-Hal and his wife Hava Saadetmend, Fatemah Modir-Nouri, Mehrdad Habibzade, Milad Radef and Behzad Taalipas, and Amir Goldoust, his sister Mina Goldoust, and his grandmother Zainab Bahremend.

The organisation says the charges relate to their involvement in a house church, and to taking communion wine.

Six other members of the Church of Iran were due to stand trial this month for blasphemy but the trial was postponed twice, the first time to allow prosecutor more time to gather evidence, and on the second occasion to allow the prosecutors to seek the assistance of Iran's traditional churches in determining their guilt.

The six Christians have already served eight months of a one year sentenced for "crimes against the Islamic Order" handed down at a previous trial and are currently out on bail. Their legal team is optimistic that they will their appeal against all charges.

The trials follow a wave of arrests in past months. Between last June and February this year, 254 Christians have been arrested in 33 cities, but CSW fears that the actual number of arrests is much higher.

Read more at Christianity Today

Christian Relief Teams Head to the South

More than 100 reported tornadoes have devastated the South, killing as many as 248 people across six states – the worst outbreak since 1974.

The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. said it received 137 tornado reports into Wednesday night, including 66 in Alabama and 38 in Mississippi.

The majority of the fatalities occurred in hard-hit Alabama, with authorities recording 162 deaths from Wednesday night’s storm.

“I don’t know how anyone survived,” stated Mayor Walter Maddox to CNN. “When you look at the path of destruction that’s likely 5 to 7 miles long in an area half a mile to a mile wide … it’s an amazing scene. There’s parts of the city I don’t recognize, and that’s someone that’s lived here his entire life.”

As daylight broke Thursday, people surveyed the mass destruction that left hundreds of homes and businesses flattened, thousands of trees knocked down and household items scattered throughout the streets.

According to a statement released by Ala. Governor Robert Bentley, at least one million people in Alabama are without power. Two thousand National Guard troops were activated to help search for people who are missing in the devastated areas.

Additionally, The Associated Press counted 32 deaths in Mississippi, 32 in Tennessee, 13 in Georgia, eight in Virginia and one in Kentucky.

Dozens of roads from Texas to New York were affected by the storm as well, flooded or washed out.

States of emergency were declared in several states including Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and most recently, Virginia.

President Barack Obama approved late Wednesday Gov. Bentley’s request for emergency federal assistance, including search and rescue support, reported CNN.

“I just spoke to Governor Bentley and told him that I have ordered the Federal Government to move quickly in our response,” Obama said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to all those have been affected by this devastation, and we commend the heroic efforts of those who have been working tirelessly to respond to this disaster.”

Obama will visit Alabama on Friday on his way to Cape Canaveral, Fla., to view the damage and meet with Gov. Bentley as well as other local officials.

In a statement released by The White House, FEMA reported that Director Craig Fugate will also be meeting with the Alabama governor to discuss the state’s recovery efforts.

“This could be one of the most devastating tornado outbreaks in the nation’s history by the time it’s over,” said meteorologist Sean Morris to CNN.

The recent tornadoes are contributing to what may become a record-breaking month for twisters, where just two weeks ago Mississippi and southern parts of Alabama were hit.

Tornado watches are reportedly still being issued by the National Weather Service, along the East Coast from Georgia to the Boston area, with severe storms and winds up to 100 miles per hour.

“We expect an eruption of tornadic activity and thunderstorms along a boundary moving along the Eastern Seaboard,” Mike Mach, a National Weather Service meteorologist told The New York Times.

For now, with much of the South ravaged by the recent tornadoes, many Christian relief organizations are rallying volunteers and preparing to assist the much-needed areas.

Read More at Christian Post

300 DEAD-163 Tornadoes in a 24hr period

TUSCALOOSA, AL (RNN) - A horrific storm system that killed more than 300 people in seven states across the South is one of the worst the country has experienced in more than four decades.

In the 24-hour period that ended at 8 a.m. CT Thursday, 163 tornadoes had been reported by eye witnesses. One of those, a mile-wide tornado that bisected Alabama, killed more than 210 people in that state alone, barely missing a college campus housing thousands of students, but leveling a large swatch of town with its destruction.

Read more at Fox News WBRC Channel 6

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Police Officer Dies Protecting Daughter During Violent Storm

COVINGTON, La. -- The Northshore community is celebrating the life of a decorated Covington police lieutenant who died early Tuesday morning protecting his 8-year-old daughter.

They were camping at a state park north of Jackson, Mississippi when a series of powerful storms pushed through the area.

Covington Police Chief Richard Palmisano says according to reports, Sharp heard a loud crack and quickly covered up his daughter before a 125-foot sweet gum tree fell onto their tent.

"It's my understanding based on what we were told that Lt. Sharp threw himself over his child's body to protect her and was struck by the tree and perished," said Palmisano.

The daughter survived without a scratch.

Palmisano described Sharp's death as a huge loss for the city and a department he served with heart and soul.

"He was a great guy. He did a wonderful job for this city and put his life on the line everyday to help the citizens of Covington and we thank him for that and his family."

Sharp came up through the ranks, rising from patrolman to commander of Covington's Criminal Investigative Unit.

Wednesday, flags in were flying at half staff in Covington.

Citizens placed several wreaths in front of the city police station as word of Lt. Sharp's death filtered through town.

Read More From WWLTV

Tornadoes Ravage South, 231 Dead

Tuscaloosa, Alabama (CNN) -- Daylight illuminated a scene of utter devastation across many areas of the South Thursday, following storms of near-epic proportions that killed as many as 231 people in six states.

The vast majority of fatalities occurred in Alabama, where as many as 149 people perished, although Gov. Robert Bentley told reporters Thursday there were 131 confirmed deaths.

A breakdown provided by Bentley's office showed that violent weather claimed lives in 16 Alabama counties. Thirty people perished in DeKalb County in northeastern Alabama; the death toll in the hard-hit city of Tuscaloosa, in west-central Alabama, was at 36 as of Thursday morning, said Mayor Walter Maddox.

"I don't know how anyone survived," Maddox said. "We're used to tornadoes here in Tuscaloosa. It's part of growing up. But when you look at the path of destruction that's likely 5 to 7 miles long in an area half a mile to a mile wide ... it's an amazing scene. There's parts of the city I don't recognize, and that's someone that's lived here his entire life."

Before dawn Thursday, Mississippi emergency management officials also added 14 previously unreported fatalities to the count, increasing the death toll in that state to 32, officials said. Tennessee emergency officials said 30 people died in that state. Eleven were dead in Georgia, eight in Virginia and one in Arkansas.

Entire neighborhoods were leveled and hundreds of thousands of people were without power in the affected regions. As of 4 a.m. Thursday, Alabama Power said 363,511 customers had no electricity, and as of 8 a.m. Georgia Power said 52,000 customers were without power. Bentley estimated as many as half a million to a million people had no electricity in Alabama.

"This could be one of the most devastating tornado outbreaks in the nation's history by the time it's over," CNN Meteorologist Sean Morris said.

Read More From CNN

What Causes Early Puberty In Girls?

Marines Receive Training On Accepting Gay Recruits

SAN DIEGO – If a Marine spots two men in his battalion kissing off-duty at a shopping mall, he should react as if he were seeing a man and woman. If he turns on the television news to see a fellow Marine dressed as a civilian and marching in a parade with a banner that reads, "Support Gays and Lesbians in the Military!" he should accept it as a free right of expression.

Prescriptions for those possible scenarios are being played out at Marine bases as the military prepares to allow gays to openly serve, ending a 17-year-old policy commonly known as "don't ask, don't tell." Training for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines began early this year and is expected to finish by summer's end. The repeal goes into effect 60 days after the president, defense secretary and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certify that lifting the ban won't hurt the military's ability to fight.

"These changes are about policy," states briefing material for Marine instructors. "The policy is about adherence to orders and behavior, and not about beliefs."

The latest round of training material asks Marines to consider their reactions to a wide range of scenarios, from seeing a member "hanging around" a gay bar to hearing locker-room jokes from others who refuse to shower in front of gays. Members of the 1st Marine Logistics Group report to class Thursday at Camp Pendleton.

There is nothing wrong with "hanging around" a gay bar, the materials state. The officer who witnesses the loud locker-room banter aimed at gays and lesbians should remind the Marines any discrimination or harassment is inappropriate.

For those who oppose the new policy, the Marine Corps says it doesn't expect anyone to change their personal beliefs. Still, everyone must follow orders.

"You remain obligated to follow orders that involve interaction with others who are gay or lesbian, even if an unwillingness to do so is based on strong, sincerely held moral or religious beliefs," the training material states.

A top-notch recruiter who opposes the new policy cannot refuse a promising applicant on grounds of sexual orientation but might be considered for another assignment and, at the discretion of the Navy secretary, may be granted early discharge.

Chaplains who preach at base chapels that homosexuality is a sin are entitled to express their religious beliefs during worship.

The Marines expect to finish training on the new policy by June 1, Gen. James Amos, the Marine Corps commandant, testified in Congress earlier this month.

Read More from Associated Press/Yahoo News

Indiana Votes To Cut Funding To Planned Parenthood

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana is poised to become the first state to cut off all government funding for the Planned Parenthood organization, providing a significant victory for the anti-abortion movement but presenting a political predicament for the state’s governor, Mitch Daniels, as he considers running for president.

The Indiana House voted 66-32 Wednesday to approve a bill cutting the $3 million in federal money the state distributes to the organization for family planning and health programs.

The measure also ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy unless there is a substantial threat to the woman’s life or health and requires women seeking an abortion be told that life begins at conception and that doctors performing abortions have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital. The Senate approved the measure earlier this month.

The action opens a new legislative front in the conservative assault on Planned Parenthood, which has been targeted for its abortion services. Efforts to cut off federal funds in Congress failed this month, but bills are moving in a number of statehouses.

Indiana’s measure is now in Daniels hands, which could force him to make a decision between the state‘s fiscal interests and a prime goal of his party’s social conservatives.

If he signs the measure, Indiana risks losing $4 million in federal grants for family planning services. If he vetoes it, Daniels could antagonize ardent social conservatives already wary of his public statements about the importance of focusing on economic issues this year. (Daniels made the truce comment last June)

Read More From The Blaze

SAY WHAT?!! Ohio Church Says Homosexuality A Gift From God Not A Sin

By Eryn Sun|Christian Post Correspondent

Being gay is a gift from God, asserts one church in Ohio.

That’s the message that Central United Methodist Church is spreading throughout their community via a digital billboard, launched on Monday.

This “simple statement,” the church announced, is “intended to be a gift to those who have experienced hurt and discrimination because of their real or perceived sexual orientation.”

“The Church seeks nothing less than the healing of the world, and Central UMC wants to offer words and acts of healing to those hurt and marginalized,” the website states.

Jeff Buchanan, the director of Exodus Church Equipping & Student Ministries, agrees that the Church must display love and compassion for those in the LGBT community. But he opposes the message that CUMC is sending through their “Being Gay is a Gift from God” campaign.

“Why would God bestow this ‘gift’ only to condemn it throughout the Bible? This would seemingly contradict His character as a God who is loving and just.”

The Toledo church’s controversial billboard ad is directly connected to a long month-long sermon series by its new pastor, Bill Barnard. The church is hoping that the ad will move the public towards tolerance, reported ABC 13, and not perpetuate anti-gay attitudes and behaviors, which were harming the LGBT community.

The purposes of their recently launched campaign are threefold: to offer welcome to all persons who are gay; to challenge the larger Church to fully accept persons who are gay into the life of the Church; and to call on all people to bring all the gifts of who they are to God.

“By welcoming and living in community with faithful Christians who happen to be gay, we have come to understand that being gay is part of who God made them to be,” CUMC proclaims on their site. “And by gay Christians bringing all that they are to God, the body of Christ has been strengthened.”

“In fact, we would experience the body of Christ as incomplete without LGBT persons.”

Barnard told ABC, “We really believe that being gay is a gift from God, and it’s not anything that anyone has to apologize for or be ashamed about. So that’s how [the campaign] came to be.”

Believing sexuality to be a “good gift from God” – or as they declared yet another way in God’s infinite diversity – CUMC defines sin as denying who God created them to be.

“The overwhelming scientific evidence is that people are born with their sexual orientation, that it is not a choice,” the church contends. “Fully accepting one’s sexual orientation and identity is key to leading a normal and healthy life.

“Forcing people to act against their God-given sexual orientation will lead to disordered lives. Allowing people to act in accordance with their God-given sexual orientation leads to reconciliation.”

While deeming the marginalization of LGBT persons as “unjustified” – mentioning that Jesus did not speak directly regarding homosexuality – the Toledo church recognizes that the Church today continues to be divided over interpretation of Scripture related to homosexuality.

Just two months ago, 33 retired United Methodist bishops urged the denomination to remove its ban on homosexual clergy, prolonging the undying debate within the church body.

CUMC hopes to unify believers by focusing more on “things that [they] agree on, such as kindness, justice, and humility,” instead of contributing to hate and discrimination, which they believe leads not to reconciliation, but to self-destructive practices within the LGBT community.

“Holding people responsible for matters in which they have no control is irrational and immoral,” the church declares. “We believe that both those within and without the Church are hungry for dialogue about homosexuality that reflects compassion and humility rather than intolerance and strife.”

Buchanan contends that CUMC’s message “tells people that the only option they have is a gay identity.”

But “people need to understand that thousands of men and women have found there is another way and have found freedom from homosexuality through the power of Christ,” he says.

Even if there was conclusive evidence supporting the theory that people were “born this way,” Buchanan stresses that Christians were called to be “born again.”

“While we may not choose our desires, we do have the ability and responsibility to choose whether or not we act on those desires. Our goal should be living a life that is congruent with Scripture,” he says.

Read More From Christian Post

Reverand David Wilkerson Author of Book "The Cross And The Switchblade" Dies In Car Crash In Texas

Rev. David Wilkerson, founding pastor of Times Square Church in New York City and author of the well-known book The Cross and the Switchblade, was killed Wednesday in a head-on collision in Texas. He was 79.

"It is with deepest of sadness that we have to inform you of the sudden passing of Reverend David Wilkerson, our founding pastor," Times Square Church Senior Pastor Carter Conlon said in a statement on the church website.

Conlon added that details of the family's wishes and a memorial service would be provided as information became available.

Crash Details

Wilkerson was driving east on U.S. 175 in Texas Wednesday afternoon, and moved into the opposite lane where a tractor trailer was driving westbound. The truck driver saw the car and tried to move out of the way, but still collided with the pastor's car head on, according to Public Safety Trooper Eric Long.

It's unclear what caused Wilkerson to veer into the other lane. His wife Gwen was also involved in the crash and rushed to the hospital, along with the truck driver.

Wilkerson was pronounced dead on the scene.

Last Words

Wilkerson posted a blog dated April 27 -- the day of his death. In the post, titled "When All Means Fail," he encouraged those facing difficulty to "hold fast" and stand strong in faith.

"To those going through the valley and shadow of death, hear this word: Weeping will last through some dark, awful nights, and in that darkness you will soon hear the Father whisper, "I am with you,'" Wilkerson wrote. "Beloved, God has never failed to act but in goodness and love. When all means fail-his love prevails. Hold fast to your faith. Stand fast in his Word. There is no other hope in this world."

Read all of Wilkerson's final blog here.

Word of the accident began to spread Wednesday night on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Christians urged prayer for Mrs. Wilkerson, who's in critical condition.

Rev. Wilkerson's Impact

Wilkerson's cousin Rich Wilkerson confirmed the death on Twitter.

"It is confirmed my dear cousin David Wilkerson lost his life in a tragic car accident this afternoon..Prayers r needed at this time," he tweeted.

Rev. Wilkerson spent the early part of his ministry reaching out to gang members and drug addicts in New York, as told in his bestselling book The Cross and the Switchblade.

"The term LEGEND is often used to describe a person of extreme influence but what about a man that supersedes superlatives..david wilkerson," his cousin tweeted right after confirming his death.

In 1971, he started World Challenge, Inc. as an umbrella for his crusades, conferences, evangelism and other ministry. The Times Square Church was founded under the group in 1987.

The church is now led by Pastor Carter Conlon and has more than 8,000 members.

Wilkerson also founded Teen Challenge, a Christian outreach program for troubled young people.

"Please remember the Wilkerson family in your prayers as our founder, Rev. David Wilkerson, went to be with the Lord this evening," Teen Challenge told Twitter followers.

He is survived by his wife, four children and 11 grandchildren.

Read more from CBN

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New York City Libraries Allow Porn To Be Watched In Public

NEW YORK (PIX11) -- In three seconds, close to 84,000 people will go online and watch Internet porn. And it turns out that some of those people may be doing it on taxpayer-funded computers at New York's Public Libraries.
It is all thanks to a policy, at all city libraries, that gives adults uncensored access to any Internet porn. The ability to access the porn falls under the free speech clause and the protection of the first amendment said library officials.
"It's hard for me to imagine that anyone would want to watch it in a public place," said a mother of two walking into the Brooklyn library.
But not all computers inside the library have a privacy screen so people who are not viewing the XXX flicks get a glimpse anyway. Jean, 74, of Brooklyn, came across someone watching while looking for a computer to check her email.
"First, I was in shock. I don't approve, what you do in your own home you can't do in public," said Jean.
But the library said it's not in their jurisdiction to ban the steamy online movies.
"The library provides access to anything that's protected by the First Amendment rights," said Brooklyn Library spokesperson, Richard Reyes-Gavilan.

Porn in the library has become a nationwide debate that has cities split on different sides of the issue.

Some major cities, like Los Angeles, allows people to click on porn sites. But in Washington State, it has been banned from all libraries.
By law, libraries across the country are only required to block illegal or obscene content --like child pornography.

Read More From

Bill Aims To honor Fallen Jewish Chaplains At Arlington Cemetery

Published April 20, 2011| Associated Press

Vera Silberberg was almost 4 when her father, a military chaplain, was killed in a plane crash in Vietnam while flying to observe Hanukkah with Jewish soldiers.

She grew up reveling in stories about him: Morton Singer, the weight-lifting Orthodox rabbi who loved cars, rock 'n' roll and his faith.

He was serious in his commitment to help American soldiers worship in wartime. Yet his name — and those of 12 other Jewish clergymen — is absent from monuments at Arlington National Cemetery that honor more than 240 other fallen military chaplains.

A new congressional effort backed by Jewish groups and survivors of the chaplains aims to change that.

"From his daughter's perspective, I think it would have been important for him — not really for his own namesake but so everyone who has perished and passed away, they should all have their names equally there," said Silberberg, a dentist who lives in Sherman Oaks, Calif.

There are already three monuments at Arlington for chaplains: one for those killed in World War I and one each for Roman Catholic and Protestant chaplains who died in various 20th century conflicts, including Korea and Vietnam. The three sit side-by-side in an area known as Chaplains Hill, not far from President John F. Kennedy's burial site. They were erected and dedicated by different groups of benefactors, so no one blames Arlington for the absence of a Jewish monument.

A joint resolution sponsored by Rep. Anthony Weiner and Sen. Charles Schumer, both New York Democrats, calls for a new plaque, similar in size and style to the existing three that would honor the late Jewish chaplains.

The 13 died between 1943 and 1974, though not all were killed in overseas combat.

They include Rabbi Alexander Goode, one of four chaplains who died aboard the USAT Dorchester, a troop ship torpedoed by a German U-boat as it carried hundreds of American soldiers across the frigid waters of the North Atlantic in 1943. The chaplains, as the story goes, gave up their life preservers and gloves to the shivering soldiers and offered comforting hymns even as the ship went down. More than 600 died. The names of the three other chaplains are all memorialized at Arlington.

Then there's Irving Tepper, who died in action in France in 1944 after seeing combat in Tunisia, Morocco and Sicily; Louis Werfel, known as the "Flying Rabbi," who died in a plane crash in North Africa; and Herman Rosen and his son, Solomon, who died in a drowning accident and air disaster, respectively, five years apart.

Ken Kraetzer, a bank marketing consultant and son of a World War II Army officer, noticed the lack of a monument for Jewish chaplains while researching the stories of late chaplains from his alma mater, Providence College. Though not Jewish himself, Kraetzer said he was startled by the apparent oversight. He alerted the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America and the Jewish Welfare Board Jewish Chaplains Council, which has helped lead the effort.

"I don't consider it a Jewish cause, per se. I consider it an honor the veterans cause. This is a chance to honor chaplains, past and present," Kraetzer said. "This group just happens to be Jewish."

Cemetery officials told the organizers they could move forward with a monument provided they raised the money themselves and could produce a complete and accurate list of the dead Jewish chaplains. They did that by cross-checking research from the Jewish Historical Society with records from the chaplain corps of each branch of service.

Owners Of Hobby Lobby Stores Buy 30,000 Rare Biblical Texts and Artifacts

By Lindsay Carlton

Published April 13, 2011|

About 17 months ago, the Green family went on a very expensive shopping spree.

But they didn’t burn the money on Bentleys, vacation homes or exotic yachts. They instead bought up 30,000 rare biblical texts and artifacts that now make up the largest private collection of its kind in the world.

The Greens, of Oklahoma City, are owners of the Hobby Lobby Empire, one of the nation’s leading privately owned arts and crafts retailers. Forbes Magazine puts the family fortune at around $2.5 billion.

Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby and the leading family member behind the project, was eager to share his family’s new discoveries and pushed to have them featured in a traveling exhibit called, “Passages.”

“We believe the Bible has a positive influence and I think that all people should see what it has to say,” Green said. “We encourage people to make their choice and follow its principals like we do and strive to do.”

Scholars, politicians and businesspeople gathered for a first glimpse of some of the rare religious artifacts when Passages was announced last month at the Vatican embassy in Washington. The formal stage is set to debut at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art on May 16.

Some of the most notable antiquities include: the second-largest private collection of Dead Sea Scrolls, which are expected to help understanding of the earliest texts in the Bible, and the world’s largest private collection of Jewish scrolls, which includes Torahs recovered from Nazi concentration camps.

It also includes early printed parts of the Gutenberg Bible, one of the first major books printed in movable type in the 1450's, and a comprehensive collection of English bibles through the King James era.

But perhaps the collection’s most prized possession is the Codex Climaci Rescriptus, one of the earliest surviving Bibles. Purchased from a London auction house, Green says the Codex is one of his favorites, and is the fifth-oldest relatively complete bibles in the world.

Like any vintage item, these one-of-a-kind artifacts come with a big price tag. Museums don't disclose the amount spent on individual pieces, and the Green family abides by those standards. When asked how much the collection or even a single artifact was purchased for, Mr. Green declined to go into detail.

“It’s invaluable. We have texts that people have lost their lives to make, what you purchase it for and what it's worth are two different things,” said Dr. Scott Carroll, director of the Green collection. The cost of a single can be staggering. A Wycliffe, which is known as a group of bible translations from 1382-1395, can go for around $2.5 million to $3 million.

California Teachers Association Wants To Use Classroom Time To Stage Protests

The California Teachers Association (CTA) is under fire for its plans to use classroom time to fight proposed budget cuts.

The union is declaring what it calls a "State of Emergency" and calling for Wisconsin-style activities in order to provoke lawmakers to pass taxes on citizens in The Golden State. CTA documents [PDF] show the union is planning to use public schools as a means for protest and is calling for a week of "escalating action" from May 9-13, beginning and ending with "a group of educators...taking over the State Capitol."

Chris Gacek, senior fellow for regulatory policy with the Family Research Council, has no problem with union members lobbying -- provided those members do it on their own time.

"But it's not appropriate for them to be taking over classes [and using] class time...for their own political and economic messaging," says Gacek. "That just seems totally inappropriate."

Activities included in the "State of Emergency" are sit-ins at the State Capitol, a day without campus lunch-ins and services, and informing every parent with newsletters, flyers, and phone calls. Gacek contends the education system should not be seeking to maintain only funding, but must also put a cap on spending.

Read More From One News Now

School Tries To Block Pastor From Speaking To Students At Career Day

One News Now
Thanks to the help of one legal group, a pastor in Louisiana was recently allowed to participate in a Career Day at his grandchild's elementary school.

Though he was originally banned from participating because he is a pastor, Gary Hanberry was able to speak at Larose Lower Elementary School about the volunteer work he does at an orphanage in Kenya. The school initially decided that Hanberrry could only make his presentation if believers from every religion were invited to speak at Career Day. But after being contacted by Liberty Counsel, the school reversed course.

"I'm very pleased with how the school responded; they responded quickly," reports Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver. "I think this is a problem that we see happening around the country, where people of faith -- someone who is a pastor or a Christian -- [are] disabled or disenfranchised by a public official simply because of their Christian belief."

So the attorney says it is important that his group and others challenge schools that censor Christians.

"Even though it may be motivated by wrong information -- a wrong understanding of the Constitution, as the school officials did in this case -- if we don't challenge it, that action becomes a policy, and the policy becomes the law," the Liberty Counsel founder warns.

But Staver is astounded that the school attempted to screen out a Career Day message on helping orphans solely because the speaker was a Christian pastor.

Read More From One News Now

Christian Singer Rebecca St. James Marries Fiance Jacob Fink In San Diego

"Wait" To Find Love Is Over As Grammy Award Winning Christian Singer Marries The Man Of Her Dreams
(Nashville, Tennessee) –April, 26, 2011 – Christian Grammy Award winning singer, Rebecca St. James, whose voice and personal story of dedication to purity behind her self-written signature song "Wait For Me,"encouraged millions of young people worldwide since its’ release a decade ago, said “I Do” this past weekend to the man she’s been waiting for.
Rebecca married Jacob Fink on Saturday (23), in a ceremony held at the picturesque Junipero Serra Museum in San Diego, California. The noon wedding vows, including self-written commitment vows the couple wrote to each other, were set as the centerpiece of an intimate ceremony attended by 150 of their closest relatives and friends.
Both Rebecca’s long time pastor, Rick White of the People’s Church in Franklin, Tennessee and Chris Schmaltz, the youth pastor who influenced Jacob’s decision for Christ as a teen and later provided ongoing spiritual guidance including marriage counseling for the couple, both officiated at the marriage. The glowing bride was given in marriage by her parents, David & Helen Smallbone.
Included in the ceremony were special moments that included the couple’s exchange of the purity rings each had worn prior to their marriage, and a very personal spiritual exchange of their commitment to serve each other which included the bride and groom washing each others feet before their wedding guests.Special music included Rebecca & Jacob's inclusion of the song You Make Everything Beautiful co-written by St. James and included on her recently released praise & worship album I Will Praise You. (Reunion Records/Provident Label Group). It was sung for the bridal couple and their assembled guests by the bride's brothers, Joel & Luke.
Noted Rebecca’s long time spiritual mentor and close personal friend, Evie Tornquist Karlsson following the wedding: “This was a glorious day of celebration! A marriage ceremony where from beginning to ending Jesus was the absolute focus and the special guest of honor of the bride and groom.”
Since the announcement of the couple’s engagement on Christmas Eve 2010, Rebecca has shared the impending excitement of the day with friends, as well as interested media who have followed her committment to purity since her emergence in the mid 90’s as a major artist in Christian music while still in her teens.

Read More From Morning Star Productions

Research Poll Shows Egyptians In Favor Of Ending Peace Treaty With Israel

More than half of Egyptians favor ending the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, according to a Pew Research poll.

Fifty-four percent of the 1,000 Egyptians interviewed support ending the peace treaty, while 34 percent would like the three-decade-old peace agreement to continue.

The Egypt-Israel peace treaty has been in affect more than 30 years. It created a mutual recognition of their countries with each other, the demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula, passage for Israeli ships through the Suez Canal, development of trade with Egypt supplying Israel with oil and U.S. subsidizes for Egypt.

According to the survey, released April 25, Egyptians overwhelmingly support the fall of the Mubarak regime and are satisfied with the way things are going in their country. They are cautiously optimistic about a fair election with only 41 percent believing that it is possible.

More than 60 percent of Egyptians believe that the country’s laws “should strictly follow the teachings” of the Quran. Only 36 percent feel that Coptic Christians and other religious minorities should be able to freely practice their faiths.

The poll also found that Egyptians viewed the U.S. in a less than favorable light, despite its show of support for the nation's political reforms.
Read More From Christian Examiner

Syria Government Crackdown Under Way In Daraa As Protests Continue

Playstation Network Hacked Users Personal Info and Credit Card Details May Have Been Stolen

Sony has warned users of its PlayStation Network that their personal information, including credit card details, may have been stolen.

The company said that the data might have fallen into the hands of an "unauthorised person" following a hacking attack on its online service.

Access to the network was suspended last Wednesday, but Sony has only now revealed details of what happened.

Users are being warned to look out for attempted telephone and e-mail scams.

In a statement posted on the official PlayStation blog, Nick Caplin, the company's head of communications for Europe, said: "We have discovered that between April 17 and April 19 2011, certain PlayStation Network and Qriocity service user account information was compromised in connection with an illegal and unauthorized intrusion into our network".

The blog posting lists the personal information that Sony believes has been taken.

  • Name
  • Address (city, state/province, zip or postal code)
  • Country
  • E-mail address
  • Date of birth
  • PlayStation Network/Qriocity passwords and login
  • Handle/PSN online ID

Mr Caplin added: "It is also possible that your profile data, including purchase history and billing address (city, state, zip), and your PlayStation Network/Qriocity password security answers may have been obtained.

"For your security, we encourage you to be especially aware of email, telephone, and postal mail scams that ask for personal or sensitive information."

Read the full text of Sony's PlayStation hack apology here.

Credit cards

Sony admitted that credit card information, used to purchase games, films and music, may also have been stolen.

"While there is no evidence that credit card data was taken at this time, we cannot rule out the possibility," Mr Caplin said.

"If you have provided your credit card data through PlayStation Network or Qriocity, to be on the safe side we are advising you that your credit card number (excluding security code) and expiration date may also have been obtained."

Sony has not given any indication of how many PlayStation Network users may have had their information taken, but the service has around 70 million members worldwide.

'PR Disaster'

The theft of so much detailed customer data would be seen as a "public relations disaster", according to Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at security firm Sophos.

"This is a big one," he told BBC News.

"The PlayStation Network is a real consumer product. It is in lots of homes all over the world.

"The impact of this could be much greater than your typical internet hack."

Read More From BBC News

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Christians flee from coming Islamic law

As Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood declares its intent to institute Islamic law, intelligence sources report al-Qaida is staging attacks in the Middle East nation, prompting concern that Coptic Christians soon will be driven from their homeland.

International Christian Concern's Aidan Clay says the Copts' attitude has gone from uncertainty to fear, which is driving many Coptic Christians to try to leave Egypt.

"A report from a very prominent Copt says he's getting hundreds of calls a week from Coptic Christians who are trying to get out of the country," Clay told WND in an interview. "That's an extremely sad thing considering we're seeing that throughout the Middle East. We're seeing the quick removal of ancient Christian communities. Egypt has the highest Christian population of any country and a very old Christian church there."

Clay blames the increasing pressure on the growing political influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic groups.

"So really, there is a fear that the Muslim Brotherhood could take power," he said. "It's the same with the Salafis. They're now saying they're willing to run for Parliament."

The International Christian Concern analyst was referring to a recent report on Vatican Radio that said the long-restricted Salafist group is planning to form a political party and run candidates for Egypt's Parliament.

"In the past, Mubarak had a very hard hand on these extreme, fundamentalist, ultra-conservative groups. They were not allowed to run for government in any way," Clay commented. "But the Muslim Brotherhood had some influence and were able to get some votes."

Clay said that even though the groups were kept under control, they've long had the Christians in their sights.

"These were the groups responsible for the major terrorist attacks against the Christians. They may even be responsible for the New Year's Eve attack against the church in Alexandria," Clay asserted. "Mubarak of course blamed an outside al-Qaeda group for the attack. The Copts don't buy that; they think it was it was an excuse by Mubarak to not to have to deal with the turmoil inside of Egypt."

The issue for Copts, as Clay explained, is that both groups have promised some form of Islamic government, which would put restrictions on the Christians in Egypt.

Coptic Christians demonstrated against Islamic law, or Shariah, and voiced support for an entirely secular state in Egypt. Clay said the desire for a secular government will likely go unheeded.

"They're not going to get far in demanding a secular constitution, especially if the Brotherhood gains a lot of influence in the September elections," he said. "The Brotherhood will slowly gain control and they'll gain seats by using democracy to their advantage."

Clay's assessment is in line with a recently published Heritage Foundation report on Egypt's political future and the status of the Coptic Christians.

Study Shows Christians Live Healthier, Longer

A new report indicates that those who believe in God not only live a healthier life but also add 14 years to their life.

According to the new report published by U.K.-based Christian Medical Fellowship, those who have faith carry positive health benefits such as coping with illness, faster recovery, as well as protection from future illnesses.

The report, "Health Benefits of Christian Faith” by Drs. Alex Bunn and David Randall, drew its evidence from over 1,200 studies and 400 reviews.

It reads, “In contrast to the popular myth that Christian faith is bad for health, on balance, and despite its limitations, the published research suggests that faith is associated with longer life and a wide range of health benefits. In particular, faith is associated with improved mental health.”

One of the studies, where more than 20,000 American adults participated, shows that income and education had little impact but those who went to church regularly had seven years added to their life expectancy. It highlights that life expectancy doubled for African Americans with an extra 14 years.

People with mental health problems, such as psychosis, also proved to cope better when religion was involved. They also showed to be more compliant with their medication.

The report notes that the mental health benefits for believers include: “well-being, happiness and life satisfaction; hope and optimism; purpose and meaning in life; higher self-esteem; better adaptation to bereavement; greater social support and less loneliness; lower rates of depression and faster recovery from depression; lower rates of suicide and fewer positive attitudes towards suicide; less anxiety; less psychosis and fewer psychotic tendencies; lower rates of alcohol and drug abuse; less delinquency and criminal activity; greater marital stability and satisfaction.”

CMF emphasizes that health benefits depend on how devoted Christians are in their faith. For example, those who are genuinely devoted to God are less likely to associate themselves with “risky heath behaviors for instance problem drinking, smoking and permissive sexual behavior.”

Read More at Christian Post

Anti-Life and Anti-Christian Vandalism hits PA University in midst of Holy Week

Media Contact: Mary Powers
Communications Director
Phone: 703-351-6280

*For Immediate Release*

Anti-Life and Anti-Christian Vandalism hits PA University in midst of Holy Week

Last Wednesday, in the midst of Holy Week, Clarion University (PA) Students for Life’s Cemetery of the Innocents Display was vandalized and desecrated by individuals identifying themselves in red paint as “pro-choice”.

In a breathtaking public display of anti-Christian and anti-Life motivations, 350 crosses were pulled up and re-inserted in inverted fashion, a well-known anti-Christian symbol. Additionally, red paint was splattered on crosses and signs. Even eerier was the mock bloody footprints of an infant painted in front of the display.

Upon hearing of the desecration of the display, Kristan Hawkins, Executive Director of Students for Life of America stated, “Vandalism of pro-life displays on campus is not uncommon, but this incident takes pro-choice vandalism on campus to a whole new level. It is revolting to think that anyone would desecrate a display in this way, most especially with red paint to imitate blood. Clarion University must take a strong stand against this disgusting, intolerant, and hate-filled act.”

Last week was Clarion Students for Life’s annual “Life Week”. Each year the group organizes a Cemetery of the Innocents Display in the middle of campus. They have 350 crosses and two signs explaining that each cross represents 10 children aborted every day.

Every year Clarion SFL experiences some sort of vandalism – broken crosses or knocked over crosses – during their Life Week, but this year the opposition on campus has taken its vandalism to a whole new level. Members of Clarion’s Students for Life group see an anti-Life motivation to this vandalism, but also an anti-Christian motivation as well. The inverted cross has long been a symbol of anti-Christian and anti-religious sentiments.

To speak with Kristan Hawkins, Executive Director of Students for Life, about the display, contact Mary Powers at or by phone: 703-351-6280.

Pictures from the desecrated Cemetery of the Innocents are below:

HISTORIC to Bibical Porportions: April 2011 Sets Record for Most Tornadoes

April 2011 has been a horrific month for severe weather so far with more than 600 reports of tornadoes, more than 40 tornado-related deaths and unthinkable destruction.

As the wild weather pattern continues this week, the month's total number of tornadoes continues to rise. There is a good chance that April 2011 will end up being the most active April on record for tornadoes.

With May and June typically being the most active months of the year for severe weather, people are wondering if the trend will continue and make 2011 a record-setting year.

Stats for April

The total number of tornado reports this month (through Friday) was up to 559, according to the Storm Prediction Center (SPC). At least 55 more reports of twisters have been submitted since then with 17 over the weekend and 38 Monday into Monday night.

It's important to note that these are the number of reports (or sightings), not confirmed tornadoes. Oftentimes multiple sightings of the same tornado are reported, and it will take quite some time until all the data is sorted through and the number of confirmed tornadoes is determined.

According to the SPC, the highest number of confirmed tornadoes recorded in the month of April (since 1950) was 267 in 1974.

If all of the tornado reports so far this month were confirmed, April 2011 would by far be the most active April for tornadoes. Even though the number of confirmed tornadoes will probably end up being quite a bit smaller, this month is still likely to beat the record.

Stats for 2011

The preliminary estimate for number of tornadoes so far in 2011 was 766, as of Sunday, with about two dozen states affected. More than 100 tornadoes have been reported in both Alabama and North Carolina.

The year that holds the record for the highest number of tornadoes is 2004 with a whopping 1,817 twisters. For people wondering if 2011 could set a new record, this year has a long way to go.

Read more at Accuweather

White House Calls Rev. Franklin Graham for Comment about Issues Surrounding President Obama's Birth "Preposterous Charges"

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said comments by Rev. Franklin Graham that there were issues surrounding President Obama's birth were "preposterous charges."

Graham, who has met with Obama before, appeared on ABC's "This Week" and was asked about people like Donald Trump bringing up questions about the president's birth. "Well, the -- the president I know has some issues to deal with here. He can solve this whole birth certificate issue pretty quickly. I don't -- I was born in a hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, and I know that my records are there," Graham said.

"You can probably even go and find out what room my mother was in when I was born. I don't know why he can't produce that. So I'm not -- I don't know. But it's an issue that looks like he could -- he could answer pretty quickly," he added.

Carney, in an abrupt answer, reacted and said, "It's interesting that a minister would use Easter Sunday to make preposterous charges."

A reporter in the daily White House briefing had asked for reaction to Graham's comments that aired Sunday and also for other charges that Graham has made about the Muslim Brotherhood [2] infiltrating all parts of the Obama administration.

The interview with the influential evangelical pastor took place late last week, but aired on Easter Sunday.

Read more at FoxNews

Monday, April 25, 2011

National Weather Service Issues Red Flag Warning For West Texas As Wifd Fires Rage On

Dallas (CNN) -- Hot, dry weather returns to Texas this week, whisking away the limited relief scattered thunderstorms brought to firefighters in parts of the Lone Star state over the weekend.

In a trifecta of potentially bad news for fire crews, the Texas Forest Service said a low-pressure system will push temperatures into the 90s, humidity to 10% or less and winds up to 45 mph on Monday and Tuesday.

The conditions have prompted the National Weather Service to issue a red flag warning for a large portion of west Texas, urging residents to avoid the use of open flames and to avoid activities that may generate sparks.

Because of the hot temperatures, bone-dry conditions and high winds, "accidental ignitions will have the potential to grow quickly into dangerous wind-driven wildfires," the weather service said.

The system will bring with it a chance of precipitation. However, rain accompanied by thunderstorms can be a mixed-blessing for firefighters, since lightning can ignite new fires.

One such fire scorched nearly every inch of a 10,000-acre north Texas ranch, about 70 miles west of Fort Worth.

The Cormack family has raised cattle near Strawn for a quarter century, but now are coping with the loss of 15% of its herd and nearly all of its grazing land.

"Its something you can't really explain. This is home," Justin Comack told CNN's Patrick Oppmann. "I know a lot of people think ... it's just land, but you know this is my backyard and we ran cattle out here since I was a baby."

Some of the cattle were nearly incinerated by the fast-moving flames. All Cormack can do is number the carcasses with green spray paint, take their pictures and log their GPS locations, hoping the family eventually will be compensated for its losses.

Even for the surviving cattle, the road will be tough -- many suffered burns and may have to be put down.

Grazing land has become a precious comodity, with most of the landscape charred following the fire.

"We've been really lucky that we have friends all over and people, strangers that come together and donate as much hay as they can," according to brother Jake Cormack, who said he's looking for grass leases to feed his herd until "we can get over this hump."

The Forest Service responded to 17 new fires over the weekend, but the blazes were slowed by storms that brought softball-sized hail and reports of tornadoes.

The largest of these new fires is the Pipeline fire in Tyler and Hardin counties. Covering some 7,101 acres, it was caused by an oil well flare. National Park Service personnel were involved in the fight against the blaze and it is now 90% contained.

Wet weather over the past few days helped firefighters maintain control over many of the fires burning in the state, the Texas Forest Service said.

The largest of them is the 207,660-acre Rockhouse fire in Jeff Davis County, which is 75% contained as of Sunday night. Firefighters had to abandon the fight against the conflagration in the Davis mountains, according to an update from the Forest Service, because of concerns about safety and a lack of reliable communications. The agency said the difficult terrain made use of bulldozers impossible and aerial resources had proved ineffective.

The PK Complex of fires burning west of Fort Worth is now 50% contained, assisted by significant rainfall, the Forest Service said. On Sunday, crews worked on constructing lines through the 126,734-acre fire. The also burned pockets of vegetation around the fire's perimeter.

Read More From CNN

1,700 Year Old Skeletons Of Christians Martyrs Found In Italy

Daily Mail

22nd April 2011

Two skeletons discovered in a crypt in an Italian cathedral are those of Christian saints who were martyred in ancient Rome, experts have claimed.

Scientists say all the evidence suggests the bones do belong to Chrysanthus and Daria, who were killed in 283AD for spreading Christianity.

Legend has it that the Roman empire had the celibate husband and wife killed after they converted Romans to the early religion.

The remains have been kept in the crypt of the cathedral in Reggio Emilia, a city in the north of Italy, since the 10th century.

The altar at the church had not been disturbed since 1651 but in 2008 the cathedral was renovated

Workers found more than 300 bones in one of the sealed crypts.

The skulls were packed inside a pair of silver-and-gold busts deep in a cathedral vault which they had been transferred to nearly 500 years ago.

Experts quickly descended on the crypt so that the bones could be tested and dated.

Ezio Fulcheri, from the University of Genoa, led the team on what was one of the first scientific investigations into saintly relics.

He conceded there was no way to identify the skeletons with complete certainty but said 'all of the evidence we have gathered points toward the relics having belonged to Chrysanthus and Daria.

'This has been a very rare opportunity to be able to study bones and other relics that relate directly back to a legend that has been passed on for almost 2,000 years.

'The completeness of the skeletons is also rare for martyrs of this era, implying that these relics were protected and venerated in their entirety at a very early point in history.'

The team concluded after DNA tests that the bones belonged to a woman probably in her 20s and man in his late teens.

Tests revealed that the bones were still fusing together at death which suggested to the experts that although both sets of bones were of skeletons, neither was fully developed.

The age of the female skeleton suggested that they were still a virgin, as Daria had been.

They believe that the couple lived a generally healthy life 'with very little physical stress' before they were killed.

Testing suggests they were from an affluent background because their bones showed signs of lead poisoning - common to aristocrats in ancient times.

There was also very little wear and tear on the bones which suggested that they had not been involved with any physical labour.

A single rib was taken from each body and ground into a fine powder for a carbon dating test which showed the bones dated back to between 80AD and 340AD.

All the characteristics of the bones tied in with descriptions of the lives of the Christian saints.

The team's findings have been filmed for a documentary, EXPLORER: Mystery of the Murdered Saints which was broadcast last night by National Geographic.

Senior producer and writer Max Salomon told the Catholic News Agency: 'This is the first time that we can really test the authenticity of what is believed to be the body of a saint. For us, it was really a privilege to have a seat at that table and see its risks.'

He was impressed that Church leaders were willing to risk the relics not being authentic and were prepared to take the consequences.

'In a sense, it’s a very modern thing for the Church to do, to embrace science and take on the risks of asking scientific questions,' he said.

Auxiliary Bishop Lorenzo Ghizzoni of Reggio Emilia had acknowledged the findings could be a major problem.

'We might discover that these relics are fake. That would be a huge problem for us,' he said.

'If we find out we have bones like that, then we have to throw them out, destroy them. That would certainly be a scandal for the faithful.'

The two bodies represented an extraordinary opportunity because there were almost two complete skeletons, giving a lot of material to work with. Often relic bones are progressively removed and kept as spiritual tokens.

In the documentary, University of Turin anthropologist Allesandra Cinti said: 'These results confirmed two fundamental facts for us.

'They confirmed their antiquity and the fact that they were both from the same time period. We were able to relax, let out a sigh of relief and say okay, maybe it's actually them.'

According to the legend, Chrysanthus was the only son of a Roman senator from Alexandria who grew up in Rome and converted to Christianity.

His father, unhappy at the move, arranged for him to marry a high priestess called Daria in the hope he would cast off his new religion.

But the plan backfired when Daria too embraced Christianity and the couple worked together to convert thousands more to the faith.

Authorities in Rome arrested them for proselytising and they were buried alive in a sand mine in the city in around 283AD.

Read more:

High Court Rejects Quick Review Of Obama Care

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court rejected a call Monday from Virginia's attorney general to depart from its usual practice and put review of the healthcare law on a fast track. Instead, judicial review of President Barack Obama's signature legislation will continue in federal appeals courts.

The justices turned down a request by Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a leading opponent of the law, to resolve questions about its constitutionality quickly. The Obama administration opposed Cuccinelli's plea.

Only rarely, in wartime or a constitutional crisis, does the court step into a legal fight before the issues are aired in appellate courts. Hearings already are scheduled in May and June in three appeals courts.

The case still could reach the high court in time for a decision by early summer 2012.

Justice Elena Kagan apparently took part in the court's order Monday, as there was no announcement that any justice sat out. There had been questions about whether she would participate because she served as Obama's solicitor general when the law was passed. Kagan indicated in Senate testimony last year that she played no role in the administration's planning and handling of challenges to the law.

So far, five federal judges have ruled on challenges to the law. Two Republican appointees, in Florida and Virginia, have declared it unconstitutional in whole or in part. Three Democratic appointees, in Michigan, Virginia and Washington, DC, have upheld it.

Cuccinelli filed suit on behalf of Virginia, while 26 states joined in a separate lawsuit in Florida claiming that Congress exceeded its authority in requiring citizens to buy health insurance or pay a penalty starting in 2014. In asking the high court to pluck the healthcare cases from the appeals courts before decisions were rendered there, Cuccinelli said delay imposes a "crippling uncertainty" upon the states.

In December, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson in Richmond declared that the heart of the sweeping legislation -- the requirement that citizens buy health insurance or pay a penalty starting in 2014 -- is unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Florida came to the same conclusion in January in striking down the law in its entirety. Both rulings have been put on hold pending appeals.

In the meantime, the federal and state governments have begun to put in place other parts of the law, including changes in payment rates under the Medicare system for older and disabled Americans and a provision allowing children up to age 26 to remain on the parents' health insurance policies.

Read More From One News Now

Court Trial Held In Michigan For Pastor Who Burned Q'uran

Washington Times

DEARBORN, Mich. — Controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones, a Koran-burning advocate who has sparked Muslim outrage worldwide, including deadly riots in Afghanistan, held court to a media throng as he defended himself in a trial here that pitted his free-speech rights against fears of public violence in the nation’s largest Arab-American community.

The hearing was a legal rarity — a jury trial after Rev. Jones declined to pay a city-ordered peace bond that the county prosecutor said was needed to cover security costs associated with the minister’s planned protest near the nation’s largest mosque on one of Christianity’s holiest days, Good Friday. The estimated cost of the bond was $46,000. The pastor of the tiny Florida congregation has pledged to return next week if today’s protest is thwarted by the trial.

A three-man, four-woman jury was quickly impaneled at District 19 court in Dearborn late Thursday afternoon after Rev. Jones, who said he would continue with his plan to protest outside the Islamic Center of America, refused to pay the bond request and asked for trial.

Rev. Jones, who carries a firearm and accidentally discharged it in his rental car following a Detroit television station interview Thursday night, represented himself in court. He and co-defendant Marvin Sapp, also a pastor in his church, dressed casually in black Harley-Davidson T-shirts as they gave opening statements asserting their First Amendment right to peacefully protest in public. The city, which declined their permit, had offered the two the option of demonstrating in designated “free-speech zones,” including outside city hall, but they declined, calling such spaces unconstitutional.

The Rev. Jones, 59, who leads the small Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., told the court that he would carry out his plan, even if the jury rejected his bid and he was arrested.

“We are not criminals. We have respect for the law. We are coming there in peace,” Rev. Jones told the jurors, adding that it was his right to speak against “the radical element of Islam, which does exist, otherwise we could not have this problem.”

He pledged that he would not burn a Koran or engage in other provocative acts. He said the plans now call for just four members of his group Stand Up for America Now to occupy a grassy public median area across from the mosque. He added that his concern about radical Islam was broader than simply any activities in Detroit, adding that he had no animosity for people there.

“Obviously we do have a problem — maybe not in Dearborn or this mosque. We are not accusing them. We are simply speaking out on the issue on jihad, Sharia,” said Rev. Jones, who urged jurors to be open-minded, even as much public sentiment was against him.

The case, overseen by Judge Mark Somers, the son of Christian missionaries to India, was watched by free-speech advocates nationwide and monitored by the Michigan ACLU along with other religious and legal group.

The ACLU decried the violation of Rev. Jones’ rights on Thursday.

“We should combat hate speech with more speech,” said Rana Elmir, a spokeswoman for the Michigan ACLU. “I disagree vehemently with Rev. Jones’ message, but I believe wholeheartedly in his right to express himself.”

The case has led local news coverage this week and rallied churches in the heavily Arab suburb of Detroit that serves as corporate home to Ford Motor Co. and other auto-industry concerns. Church leaders, including local imams, pastors and rabbis, have held services geared at bringing residents together as media covered Rev. Jones’ every move.

Prosecutors said in trial Friday morning that Dearborn law enforcement officials had received more than 300 death threats after residents learned that Rev. Jones and his followers had advertised plans for their event. They said the city feared violence if Rev. Jones’ group was allowed to assemble.

Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad told the court he denied four permits from other groups that eventually pulled out of Friday’s planned protest – not simply Rev. Jones’ group. He testified that he did so to maintain public safety in the heavily trafficked area, which includes several other churches conducting Good Friday services. He said local church leaders told him that they were considering cancelling their Holy Day events.

From intelligence gathered by his investigators, Chief Haddad said, “There is a strong likelihood that … violence would occur.”

Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Moran said the case was not simply about free speech rights but rather safety.

“We’re not here to suppress open speech or prevent someone for saying what they want to say, nor are we here because we don’t like the message that this defendant brings,” he told the jury. “We are here because the conduct of the respondents will likely respond in a breach of the peace. It will be a fracas, a riot. “

While one traffic officer noted the heightened traffic and safety concern of such a demonstration, Rev. Sapp questioned whether such inconvenience was enough to squelch his group’s rights.

Prosecutors showed videotape of Rev. Jones condemning the Koran for crimes against humanity and Rev. Sapp lighting the Muslim holy text on fire at their church in Gainesville in a March ceremony called “International Judge the Koran Day.”

“I was the one with the lighter,” Rev. Sapp testified matter-of-factly as the female court reporter, wearing a Muslim headscarf, typed away.

Read More From Washington Times

Christ Centered Commercials Target MTV In Outreach Campaign

By Chelsea Schilling
© 2011 WorldNetDaily

Sex, drug addiction, suicidal thoughts, alcoholism, loneliness, peer pressure and social angst – it's all part of an onslaught of hopelessness many teens experience today, but one group is using an in-your-face approach to deliver a critical message to America's young adults:

God loves you and He wants to help.

It's a revelation of hope in a venue young viewers might least expect – an outreach campaign called Groundwire splashed on television networks such as MTV, VH1, Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming and Comedy Central and flanking popular radio broadcasts across the nation.

Young adults see or hear Groundwire's 60-second Christ-centered spots and contact the ministry's coaches for help every day.

"Really the reason we're doing this is because I really believe that heaven and hell are real-life issues and that people can have the opportunity to go to heaven," Sean Dunn, founder and president of Groundwire, told WND. "Even beyond that, I am convinced that there's a God in heaven who loves every person on the face of the earth and wants to be a part of their life."

Dunn, an author and 42-year-old husband and father of four in Castle Rock, Colo., has ministered to youth for more than 20 years. He founded Groundwire eight years ago.

"I'm absolutely convinced the reason God put me on the earth is to share hope with young people who are struggling," he said. "There's a huge diversity of issues: from the cutter, the suicidal person, the addict, to those callers who say, 'Something's missing. Something just doesn't make sense in my life. I don't know what it is.' to just people who say they need someone to talk to."

And the outreach is working.

Dunn said Groundwire is averaging about 4,100 Internet chatters a month. Through its most recent media buy in Atlanta, the campaign just topped 28 million impressions a week. The ministry has added 14 million viewers and listeners every month since April 2010 and currently has nearly 5,000 Facebook fans.

"We have coaches in Korea, Australia and India to handle the middle of the night," he said. "It's the only 24-hour-a-day spiritual help line in the world. We see people come to faith on a daily basis."

Palestinian Policeman Opens Fire On Jewish Worshipers Killing One

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanded the Palestinian Authority take “harsh steps” against those responsible for today’s West Bank shooting death of the nephew of a minister of his Likud party.

Palestinian authorities told the Israeli military earlier in the day that a policeman opened fire at “suspicious movement” in the area of the Jewish shrine called Joseph’s Tomb in the West Bank city of Nablus, an army spokesman said.

Netanyahu called the shooting a “criminal act against Jewish worshippers on their way to prayer.” The army said in an e-mail the Israelis had failed to inform soldiers of their intention to enter Palestinian-controlled territory as required by law. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that “a slip-up in security coordination can’t justify an incident like this.”

Tensions have been rising in the West Bank since the stabbing to death in March of an Israeli family in their Jewish settlement home. Two Palestinians were arrested in connection with that attack.

After the funeral, Jewish settlers and Palestinians threw stones at one another near the West Bank town of Hawara and a Palestinian car was torched, an army spokeswoman said, speaking anonymously according to regulations.

The casualty of today’s shooting was the nephew of Israeli Minister of Culture and Sport Limor Livnat, said Or Doron, a ministry spokeswoman.

Livnat said a Palestinian gunman masquerading as a policeman killed her nephew, according to the daily Haaretz. An army spokeswoman, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a preliminary investigation found that the Israelis had refused to stop at a Palestinian checkpoint at an entrance to Joseph’s Tomb.

Investigation Begun

Barak called for the Palestinian Authority to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident. Ghassan Khatib, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority, said by telephone they are investigating.

The West Bank is controlled by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and the Gaza Strip is ruled by Hamas. Israel has conducted peace talks with Abbas, while Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S., and the European Union, refuses to recognize Israel or any agreements signed with it.

Read More From Bloomberg

China: 30 Christians Arrested For Trying To Hold Easter Church Service

Google News

April 24, 2011

BEIJING — Up to 30 members of a Chinese evangelical church were arrested on Sunday for trying to hold an Easter service in defiance of the officially atheist government, a member of the clergy said.

A large number of police began to gather early Sunday in the Zhongguancun area of Beijing where the Shouwang Church had said it would hold an outdoor service to mark the holiest day of the Christian calendar.

"Between 20 and 30 followers were taken away by police," senior pastor Jin Tianming told AFP by telephone from his home, where he is under house arrest. He said there were several police officers posted outside the building.

He added that the members of the congregation who were arrested had been taken to different police stations and that none had so far been released.

Jin had said before the planned gathering that the church considered Easter an important occasion and would stick to its decision to hold a service.

"This is our uncompromising position and a matter of faith. If they arrest our followers, this is the price we are willing to pay," he had said.

Police declined to comment on the arrests when contacted by AFP.

The defiant stance of the Shouwang Church, one of Beijing's biggest unofficial Christian groups, comes amid a severe crackdown on government critics that has seen scores of people detained, disappeared or facing charges.

Authorities evicted Shouwang from its previous place of worship, a rented office space, in November and blocked the congregation of about 1,000 people from entering new premises purchased with church funds, Jin said.

China's communist government has long frowned on religion and imposes controls on faith by requiring groups to register for government approval to gather, despite an official policy stipulating religious freedom.

Shouwang, which means "to keep watch", was established in 1993 and has sought government registration since 2006, Jin said, but has been repeatedly refused.

On April 10, nearly 170 church followers were rounded up by police after trying to hold an outdoor service in western Beijing's Haidian university district. Nearly 50 were detained a week later.

Most followers were released after up to 24 hours in custody.

The US government has repeatedly criticised China's overall rights crackdown, while the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, an autonomous government board, last week condemned the actions against Shouwang.

"Beijing has again responded with ruthless intolerance to peaceful religious activity," Leonard Leo, chair of the commission, said in a statement that also urged China to stop detaining members and allow Easter services.

Jin said before Sunday's service that all church leaders were under house arrest and would unlikely be able to leave their homes for the service.

Authorities have cracked down hard on dissidents, activists and rights lawyers since anonymous Internet appeals emerged in February calling for "Jasmine" protests each Sunday around the country.

The campaign was aimed at sparking public calls for government reform similar to those that have rocked the Arab world, but no public demonstrations have been reported in China.

Jin said Shouwang had no links with the calls for "Jasmine" protests.

In numerous Internet postings, other unregistered Christians in China voiced support for the Shouwang church.

About 15 million Protestants and five million Catholics worship at official churches in China, according to recent official data.

But an estimated more than 50 million others are believed to pray at "underground" or "house" churches like Shouwang, which refuse to submit to government regulation.

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Italian Entrepreneurs To Create PerfumeThat Smells Like Human Blood

Apr 20, 2011 – 8:20 AM
AOL News

A new blood-inspired perfume may soon have an ideal group of early adopters: vampires.

Last week, a pair of Italian entrepreneurs, Antonio Zuddas and Giovanni Castelli, debuted Blood Concept, a provocative fragrance line based on the four major human blood types: A, B, AB and O.

While the line forgoes incorporating actual blood, the Italian duo nonetheless claim that each scent is evocative of the blood type it represents.

"Blood Concept is just a celebration of human life through an interpretation of its evolutionary process," Zuddas told AOL News. "To be more accurate, it's an interpretation of the evolution of our most important element, the blood in our veins."

In keeping with the hematic theme, the four scents come in 1.35-ounce vials with red droppers, and the website includes background images of swirling blood.

While the Milan-based designers concede that Blood Concept may make some squeamish, they maintain that their perfumes have nothing to do with blood lust.

"No splatter, no vampires ..." Zuddas said.

Not so fast.

Merticus, a 32-year-old Atlanta man who self-identifies as a vampire, intends to sample the fragrance line.

A founding member of the Atlanta Vampire Alliance and Vampire Community News, Merticus favors O-positive as his drink of choice. As for which scent he'd prefer to wear -- or detect on a donor -- he's keeping an open mind.

"I find the black cherry, pomegranate and patchouli infusions of B and the raspberry, rose hips, and birch infusions of O equally intriguing," Merticus said via e-mail. "Hopefully I'll be able to sample them in the flesh soon."

An antique dealer by daylight, he plans to travel to Italy in September, where, he told AOL News, he may drop by the Blood Concept offices and pick up a few vials.

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