Monday, August 22, 2011

Libyan Rebels Control Much of Tripoli

New Fall TV Shows Lineup Heavy On The Sex

( means back to school, end of summer vacations, and exciting new television for those bored with "The Bachelor" and "Survivor."

But among this year's crop of brand new television series, a rather "sex"y pattern has emerged. Shows about immature bachelors hooking up before they grow up, the 1960s' playboy bunnies, and navigating the pitfalls of a one-night-stand with your coworker, are themes slated to appear on screens across America in a matter of days.

One of the adult themed shows to air this fall is "Free Agents," a sitcom set to debut on September 14, on NBC that follows the lives of two PR professionals, after they have a drunken one-night stand. The coworkers (played by Hank Azaria and Kathryn Hahn) attempt to steer through the messy complications of a professional relationship in the aftermath. While this could make for some funny awkward moments, an alcohol-fueled evening full of regret is just a sad premise for a series.

NBC's "The Playboy Club" is a little more obvious from the title about the show's content. Set to air on September 19, 2011, "The Playboy Club" "centers on the Bunnies and patrons of the original Playboy Club in 1960's Chicago," according to the Internet Movie Database page for the show.

But the show has already stirred up controversy as critics like the Parents Television Council called it a "blatant attempt to obliterate any remaining standards of broadcast decency." Morality in Media created an online petition to discourage viewers to from watching the show. Even famous liberal feminist Gloria Steinem has echoed the calls for a boycott. The real Playboy Club, she said, was "the tackiest place on earth."

Based on the stand-up comedy of comedienne Whitney Cummings, "Whitney" is coming to NBC this fall, and it is bringing all the sexual humor along with it. In one trailer for the new series about a couple trying to keep the relationship alive without getting married, viewers see her boyfriend (played by Chris D'Elia) in bed with a laptop. In an attempt to spice things up, Whitney crawls on top of him and sits on his lap, soon learning that her boyfriend is video-chatting with his parents, who witness her attempt to get him "in the mood."

In another trailer the two are lying in bed and Whitney declares, "I don't think we're having sex enough. Why aren't we tapping this every night? ...Stay in that bed, because a storm of sexy is coming your way."

"New Girl" debuts on Fox on September 20 and stars Zooey Deschanel as a sweet, but dramatic, recently dumped woman who ends up getting a new apartment with three guys who vow to help her rebound.

In one trailer that sets up the series, Jessica (played by Deschanel) is seen seducing her boyfriend by arriving at their apartment early, only to discover he is sleeping with another woman. Later in the trailer, Jessica is with her roommates at a bar attempting to rebound and she exclaims to them, "You guys were totally right! I smiled, I said I needed rebound sex and it totally worked. He asked me out!"

One of the most popular shows on television right now is "Glee," a sex-filled primetime show about Ohio high school students in glee club, is beginning its 3rd season on September 20 on Fox. The raunchy show about teens has, in its first two seasons, celebrated lesbian sex experiments, drunken hook ups, masturbation and unwanted gay-smooching.

CW's "Gossip Girl" will begin its new season on September 26 and the sex in this teen drama has moved beyond boy on girl action. In 2009, the Culture and Media Institute highlighted the objectionable "teen" content, including an episode featuring a threesome.

Ben Shapiro examined the liberal assault on traditional values in Hollywood in his book "Primetime Propaganda" and in his chapter "Making The Right Cry: How Television Drama Glorifies Liberalism," he observed that, "comedies are anti-morality crusades; dramas are morality tales." Both are intentionally designed to invert traditional ideas of morality. The veteran producers and writers Shapiro interviewed admitted as much.

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Church Puts In Drive Thru For Prayer

HIGH POINT (MCT) — In a world saturated with the convenience of drive-through outlets, from fast food and banking to prescription pick-ups and mail drop-offs -- and even drive-through funeral visitation -- why not drive-through prayer?

That's what a group of women at Memorial United Methodist Church began wondering a couple of months ago, and their discussions ultimately led to what is believed to be High Point's first drive-through prayer service.

"One of our ladies (Edith Southerland) saw a brochure of another church that had successfully done this, and we thought it would be a wonderful evangelical ministry for us," says Pat Townsend, one of the ministry's organizers. "In this world, as we know, we all need prayer."

Every Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m., volunteers from the Cedrow Drive church -- most of them senior citizens -- station themselves at various locations in the church parking lot, holding up signs inviting motorists to pull in and receive a few words of prayer.

It's the comfort of prayer with the convenience of McDonald's. A veritable Park 'n' Pray is what it is.

The Rev. Jessie Keaton, the church's senior pastor, says the drive-through prayer service is not intended just for church members but is open to anyone in the community, no matter what their prayer need may be.

"We're just trying to make it easily accessible and not infringe on anyone's time," she says. "We try to make it easy for them. They can come in the church if they want to, but if they'd rather, they can just sit right there in their car and get prayed for."

Keaton says the ministry is run almost entirely by volunteers from the church. She conducted a prayer workshop for the volunteers before the drive-through service began and has since mostly kept her hands off of the ministry.

"She met with us to talk to us about the Scriptures and what they say about prayer and to equip us to be able to pray for the public," Townsend explains. "We had to equip ourselves to be able to pray, because there are all types of problems in this world, and you have to be ready when someone asks you to pray for a certain kind of situation. So when they drive up, we ask what their concerns are, and then we pray for them."

So far, the church hasn't had too many passing motorists pull in for prayer -- despite volunteers standing on Cedrow Drive, at the top of the church's driveway, with a large sign advertising the prayer service -- but they hope the number of participants will pick up soon, particularly as word about the new service spreads.

Similar services have been offered in various cities throughout the country -- including Houston, Charlotte and Loma Linda, Calif. -- but the drive-through prayer service at Memorial United Methodist may be a first for High Point. Regardless, church members believe the service is valuable, because prayer can change things.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Iran Seizes 6,500 Bibles to Stop 'Deceiving' Christian Missionaries

Iran has seized 6,500 copies of the Bible in northwest Iran in what appears to be the latest crackdown by Iranian authorities against Christianity in the country.

Few details are known about the seizure, however, Christian news agency, Mohabat News, reports that Dr. Majid Abhari, adviser to the social issues committee of the parliament in Iran stated, "These missionaries with reliance on huge money and propaganda are trying to deviate our youth."

In a government interview with Mehr news agency, Abhari explained that the Bibles were taken because of governmental concerns that Christian missionaries mean to "deceive" young Iranians with "false propaganda."

"The important point in this issue that should be considered by intelligence, judicial and religious agencies is that all religions are strengthening their power to confront Islam, otherwise what does this huge number of Bibles mean?" he told Mehr.

According to persecution advocacy group, Voice of the Martyrs, missionary work is banned in Iran, though Christian conversion has been growing in the majority Islamic country in recent years.

Conversion from Islam to another religion, known as apostasy, is also a crime in Iran, and offenders are often arrested and tried in court. Recent legislation is aiming to have the crime of apostasy punishable by death.


Meth Lab Busts Up 600 Percent Since Tenn. County Launched Prayer Rallies

Government and church leaders in Tennessee’s Scott County are attributing a surge in meth lab seizures and drug arrests to the power of prayer originating from monthly community rallies which began in April.

The first prayer rally held in early April was attended by 200 people on the lawn of the Huntsville courthouse and was planned by county officials as an annual event. However, when four meth labs were seized by law enforcement within the first week of the prayer event, the meetings became monthly.

Also, since the first meeting, 21 meth labs have been seized by police, an increase of 600 percent, say county officials.

For the last two weeks, the prayer vigils have turned into nightly revival meetings held in a tent at the park across from the courthouse.

In a state that recently surpassed Missouri as having the most methamphetamine production in the nation, several counties in Tennessee appear to be losing the war on drugs as the result of less funds for enforcement.

Scott County Sheriff Mike Cross and Commissioner David Day say they were desperately looking for answers when they came up with the idea for a prayer rally.

“We had three or four deaths in the county and the sheriff and I had a talk,” Day told The Christian Post. “He said, ‘Man, we just can’t control it. The only one that can control it is God.’ I said let’s have a prayer rally. Let’s get together and pray.”

Day, who attends a Baptist church in Pioneer, told CP that he and the sheriff are men of faith that believe strongly in the power of prayer.

"We seem to look at government for our solutions and a lot of people like myself don't think government can solve these problems,” Cross told a local TV station reporter at the first rally. “It's up to each individual community. I think God is the answer. Washington or Nashville are not the answer. God is the answer."

Chief Deputy Ronnie Phillips told reporters that the county has seen a 600 percent increase in drug arrests, “specifically with meth, since we have had the prayer vigil.”

“We have used every tool that we could to slow down the drug problem that we have here and prayers have been the answer,” Phillips said.

Day said the second prayer rally doubled in attendance to 400 people and that the increasing number of seizures of meth labs since that time has come in amazing ways.

“The meth labs just started falling into our laps. Everywhere the police were going, they were coming up with meth labs. Whether they were serving papers, traffic stops or whatever,” Day explained.

Residents in the county have now met 14 times during the nightly revival meetings, which meet every day but Sunday. A different church leads the non-denominational meeting every night, Day said.

The prayers have extended beyond asking for relief in the meth war, he said.

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Are Children Being Exposed to Sex and Profanity on Nick, Disney and Cartoon Network?

Cartoons frequently watched by children between the ages of 12 and 17 are riddled with adult content, including the use of profanity and strong sexual themes, according to a recent study by the Parents Television Council.

The networks used in the study include Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Nick at Nite, since they air the highest rated primetime animated series for teens and pre-teens, according to Nielsen data.

“Nielsen data told us where children ages 12-17 are watching animated programming on basic cable. PTC analysts followed the Nielsen data in order to see exactly what type of material kids are consuming,” said PTC President Tim Winter in a press release. “The findings of this report should be vexing for every parent.”

Winter describes how the networks use the term “adult” to market their shows, which he feels is a perfect description of the nature of the programming’s content.

“We’re not talking about cartoon characters slipping on banana peels and ramming into doors. Our data demonstrates that today’s norm is profanity-laden storylines involving everything from rape and cocaine to STDs and crystal meth,” said Winter.

He goes on to state that this type of content is not just included in the most popular cartoons, but has invaded most of animated programming.

Winter feels parents are aware that animation blocks like Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim contain adult content, but feels they have no clue on how high the cartoon’s level of raunchiness can be.

Alarmingly, Adult Swim starts at 9 p.m., moved up two hours from its former 11 p.m. slot, marketing the programming to a larger audience, including some children.

The network also fails to issue the proper warnings to children and parents, according to Winter.


New Noah's Ark in Ky. aims to prove truth of Bible

HEBRON, Ky. (AP) — Tucked away in a nondescript office park in northern Kentucky, Noah's followers are rebuilding his ark. The biblical wooden ship built to weather a worldwide flood was 500 feet long and about 80 feet high, according to Answers in Genesis, a Christian ministry devoted to a literal telling of the Old Testament.

This modern ark, to be nestled on a plot of 800 acres of rolling Kentucky farmland, isn't designed to rescue the world's creatures from a coming deluge. It's to tell the world that the Bible's legendary flood story was not a fable, but a part of human history.

"The message here is, God's word is true," said Mike Zovath, project manager of the ark. "There's a lot of doubt: 'Could Noah have built a boat this big, could he have put all the animals on the boat?' Those are questions people all over the country ask."

The ark will be the centerpiece of a proposed $155 million religious theme park, called the Ark Encounter, and will include other biblical icons like the Tower of Babel and an old world-style village.

It's an expansion of the ministry's first major public attraction, the controversial Creation Museum. It opened in 2007 and attracted worldwide attention for presenting stories from the Bible as historical fact, challenging evolution and asserting that the earth was created about 6,000 years ago.

"The ark is really a different approach" than the museum, Zovath said. "It's really not about creation-evolution, it's about the authority of the Bible starting with the ark account in Genesis."

Inside the ark's headquarters in Hebron, a small team of artists and designers are working on the visuals at the new park, but once the project begins early next year, there will be hundreds at the creation, including a team of Amish builders from Indiana who will erect the giant ark. Many of the same people who helped design the museum are on board for the ark project, including Patrick Marsh, who helped build some of the attractions at Universal Studios in Florida.

Zovath said the ark will have old-world details, like wooden pegs instead of nails, straight-sawed timbers and plenty of animals — some alive, some robotic like The Creation Museum's dinosaurs. He said it has not yet been determined how many live animals will be in the boat during visiting hours, but the majority will be stuffed or animatronic. At their count, Noah had anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 on board.

There are a handful of replica arks around the world, but Zovath said this one will be authentic inside and out.

"When you get to walk through the boat and see how big this thing really was, and how many cages were there, and how much room there was for food and water ... our hope is people start seeing that this is plausible, that the account could be believed," Zovath said.

A longtime critic of the Answers in Genesis ministry argues the attraction will bring in converts to creationism by challenging scientific findings about the world's history.

"Many think that since creationism is so irrational and so unscientific that nobody really could believe it, but that's not so," said Edwin Kagin, a lawyer in northern Kentucky who is president of a nationwide atheist group. The new park will be "so slick and so well done, you can get people to believe in anything. Creationism, when you're ready to believe anything."

The Ark Encounter won't be the nation's first theme park inspired by the Bible, or the first with Noah's big boat. A park in tourism-rich Orlando, Fla., features a portrayal of the crucifixion by actors six days a week, along with Jesus' resurrection and gospel concerts. The Holy Land Experience opened in 2001, but the nonprofit park struggled with debt before it was taken over by Trinity Broadcasting Network in 2007.


Ex-drug Dealer Becomes Pastor

Pastor Brian Morris The married father-of-five who will take up his new role in September has written a book about his experiences

A former drug dealer who was jailed for 12 years is to become a full-time minister at a Welsh village church.

The congregation at Oakdale Baptist Church near Caerphilly unanimously voted for Pastor Brian Morris to take up the role.

He had admitted to parishioners that he once had a £100-a-day heroin habit and was jailed for smuggling cocaine.

Mr Morris, 57, who has just graduated in theology at Cardiff University had been working part-time at the church.

He will take up his new position next month.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Thousands Line Up At Church To Get Free Dental Services

Thousands of people stood in line for free dental services Friday at a church in Woodstock.
he two-day clinic at First Baptist Church of Woodstock on Hwy. 92 is being sponsored by the Georgia Dental Association and its Foundation for Oral Health.

"The line went around the building, all the way through the parking lot and around a warehouse," said Dr. Richard Smith, who practices in Atlanta. He estimated the line at 2,000 yards and said that at its peak, 4,000 people were in line.

UGA student Jasen Scrivens, 24, of Winder arrived at 1 a.m. hoping to have some unfinished dental work completed.

"About three months ago I had some work done and it cost me a good bit of money and I never got it finished -- I couldn't afford the rest of it -- so I came to see if I could get the rest of it done," he said. He estimated he had spent $3,800 on the work so far.

Stephanie Brazzell of Fairburn said she arrived at the church at 10:45 p.m Thursday and "slept on the concrete." She said it had been two years since she had any dental work done. "I have a couple of missing teeth and I need some extractions," she said. Brazzell said she lost her job a couple of years ago and had no dental insurance.

Smith said hard enonomic times have created a huge need for dental services.

"A bunch of us started looking around and realized that with this economy we had to do something. We are not responsible for the problem that's there, but we're the only ones who can fix it.

"A lot of these people are in pain, they have infections, they're missing front teeth ... there's a huge need just to get people back to work. Mothers can't take care of their children, fathers can't earn a living ... we've got to help them."

He said there were 100 dental chairs set up at the church and more than 1,600 volunteers, including 300 dentists. "We've got hygienists we've got dental assistants working, there's oral surgeons extracting teeth, we have endodontists doing root canals ... we've got people here to feed them; it takes an army and this church has just been absolutely incredible."

He said it is the first such event in Georgia on this scale.Link

Smith said the people are in line who do not get treated Friday can return on Saturday. Police were not allowing any more people to get in line Friday.

Dr. Michael Vernon of Augusta said he was moved by the patients' response to the massive effort.

"Two the first three patients that I saw actually sat in the chair and cried because they were so appreciative of what we're doing here and it just made me feel good about being here," he said.

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FBI asking Surplus Store Owners To Spy On Their Customers

Just days after the White House announced a community-based approach to combating terrorism in the United States, the FBI and other agencies are asking managers of surplus stores to spy on their customers, watching whether they pay in cash, make "extreme" religious statements or purchase products such as waterproof matches.

And the request from the government also is going to gun shops, fertilizer suppliers, motels and hotels, authorities say.

Earlier this month, the Obama administration announced a new plan titled "Empowering local partners to prevent violent extremism in the United States." In it, Obama wrote, "Communities – especially Muslim American communities whose children, families and neighbors are being targeted for recruitment by al-Qaida – are often best positioned to take the lead because they know their communities best."

The report warns that while the Constitution recognizes freedom of expression, "even for individuals who espouse unpopular or even hateful views," it also is the responsibility of government to deter "plots by neo-Nazis and other anti-Semitic hate groups, racial supremacists, and international and domestic terrorist groups."

"The best defenses against violent extremist ideologies are well-informed and equipped families, local communities, and local institutions. Their awareness of the threat and willingness to work with one another and government is part of our long history of community-based initiatives and partnerships dealing with a range of public safety challenges," the report says.

One of the apparent elements of the White House strategy is a series of brochures being handed out to farm supply stories, gun shops, military surplus stores and even hotels and motels. The brochures ask proprietors, clerks and others to watch out for "potential indicators" of terrorism, including "paying with cash," having a "missing hand/fingers," making "extreme religious statements coupled with comments that are violent or appear to condone violence" and making bulk purchases of "Meals Ready to Eat" or "night flashlights."

The following was handed out to surplus stores by agents of the FBI in Denver in recent days.

The flyer was reminiscent of the Department of Homeland Security's 2009 report "Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment" that suggested "the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups."

The report from the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis defined right-wing extremism in the U.S. as "divided into those groups, movements and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups) and those that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."

The DHS report had followed only by weeks a report from the Missouri Information Analysis Center that linked conservative groups to domestic terrorism.

The Missouri report warned law enforcement agencies to watch for suspicious individuals who may have bumper stickers for presidential candidates such as Ron Paul, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin. It further warned law enforcement to watch out for individuals with "radical" ideologies based on Christian views, such as opposing illegal immigration, abortion and federal taxes.

Officials with Oath noted the document was similar to one earlier given to gun store managers in Utah. Authorities in Denver confirmed to WND that related brochures are going to surplus stores, hotels and motels, farm supply companies that handle fertilizer and gun shops.

"This new handout expands the absurdity by now also targeting customers of military surplus stores, and by specifically targeting the purchasing of very common, and very popular, preparedness items such as Meals Ready to Eat (MREs) as 'potential indicators of terrorist activities,'" said a statement from Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes.

"Islamic terrorists are not known to hang out in local Army-Navy surplus stores, stocking up on MREs, high capacity magazines and bi-pods for their long range rifles," the statement said. "As Brandon Smith, over at notes, 'These are very common purchases, not for terrorists, but for Preppers and Survivalists, who are obviously the targets of the FBI profile, not secret al-Qaida agents.'

"Spot on," Rhodes wrote. "Obviously, the current crop of FBI 'leadership' considers anyone who wants to be self-sufficient and prepared to be a 'threat' that should be relentlessly tracked and reported."

An FBI spokesman in Denver confirmed to WND that the flyer is genuine.

"It has been disseminated throughout the United States by the FBI. The flyer and the information on it, stands on its own merit. It was created by FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C., the Denver Division has placed our contact information on the flyer and distributed it to local businesses within the states of Colorado and Wyoming.

"I assure you the process and the information has been well vetted by the Department of Justice before being released."

In addition to contact information for the FBI, the flyer also had a telephone number for the Colorado Information Analysis Center, a law enforcement "fusion" center where director Dana Reynolds told WND it's just part of the information-collecting done by the government.

He said when tips are turned in about suspicious activity, they are evaluated to determine whether there should be a police investigation.

"If it turns out to be nothing, if there's no probably case, then the contact is ended there."

However, when asked about profiling for suspicious behavior, such as that done successfully by security authorities in Israel, he said that was not being done, and why it is not being done "is a good question."

One-time Colorado congressional candidate Rob McNealy, who also is a decision-maker in the Libertarian Party, told WND he came across the flyer to surplus stores among his circle of friends and quickly confirmed it was genuine.

He pointed out to WND the irony that the government, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, specifically advises citizens to collect "ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables" as well as "flashlight and extra batteries" and "matches in a waterproof container."

Then the FBI asks store managers to report the "suspicious" activity of buying the same items.

"It's almost like entrapment," McNealy said.

Jerusalem: Scholars Are Tracing The Bible's Evolution

JERUSALEM (AP) — A dull-looking chart projected on the wall of a university office in Jerusalem displayed a revelation that would startle many readers of the Old Testament: the sacred text that people revered in the past was not the same one we study today.

An ancient version of one book has an extra phrase. Another appears to have been revised to retroactively insert a prophecy after the events happened.

Scholars in this out-of-the-way corner of the Hebrew University campus have been quietly at work for 53 years on one of the most ambitious projects attempted in biblical studies — publishing the authoritative edition of the Old Testament, also known as the Hebrew Bible, and tracking every single evolution of the text over centuries and millennia.

And it has evolved, despite deeply held beliefs to the contrary.

For many Jews and Christians, religion dictates that the words of the Bible in the original Hebrew are divine, unaltered and unalterable. For Orthodox Jews, the accuracy is considered so inviolable that if a synagogue's Torah scroll is found to have a minute error in a single letter, the entire scroll is unusable.

But the ongoing work of the academic detectives of the Bible Project, as their undertaking is known, shows that this text at the root of Judaism, Christianity and Islam was somewhat fluid for long periods of its history, and that its transmission through the ages was messier and more human than most of us imagine.

The project's scholars have been at work on their critical edition of the Hebrew Bible, a version intended mainly for the use of other scholars, since 1958.

"What we're doing here must be of interest for anyone interested in the Bible," said Michael Segal, the scholar who heads the project.

The sheer volume of information makes the Bible Project's version "the most comprehensive critical edition of the Hebrew Bible in existence at the present time," said David Marcus, a Bible scholar at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, who is not involved with the project.

But Segal and his colleagues toil in relative anonymity. Their undertaking is nearly unknown outside a circle of Bible experts numbering several hundred people at most, and a visitor asking directions to the Bible Project's office on the university campus will find that many members of the university's own staff have never heard of it.

This is an endeavor so meticulous, its pace so disconnected from that of the world outside, that in more than five decades of work the scholars have published a grand total of three of the Hebrew Bible's 24 books. (Christians count the same books differently, for a total of 39.) A fourth is due out during the upcoming academic year.

If the pace is maintained, the final product will be complete a little over 200 years from now. This is both a point of pride and a matter of some mild self-deprecation around the office.

Bible Project scholars have spent years combing through manuscripts such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, Greek translations on papyrus from Egypt, a printed Bible from 1525 Venice, parchment books in handwritten Hebrew, the Samaritan Torah, and scrolls in Aramaic and Latin. The last member of the original team died last year at age 90.

The scholars note where the text we have now differs from older versions — differences that are evidence of the inevitable textual hiccups, scribal errors and other human fingerprints that became part of the Bible as it was passed on, orally and in writing.

A Microsoft Excel chart projected on one wall on a recent Sunday showed variations in a single phrase from the Book of Malachi, a prophet.

The verse in question, from the text we know today, makes reference to "those who swear falsely." The scholars have found that in quotes from rabbinic writings around the 5th century A.D., the phrase was longer: "those who swear falsely in my name."

In another example, this one from the Book of Deuteronomy, a passage referring to commandments given by God "to you" once read "to us," a significant change in meaning.

Other differences are more striking.

The Book of Jeremiah is now one-seventh longer than the one that appears in some of the 2,000-year-old manuscripts known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some verses, including ones containing a prophecy about the seizure and return of Temple implements by Babylonian soldiers, appear to have been added after the events happened.

The year the Bible Project began, 1958, was the year a priceless Hebrew Bible manuscript arrived in Jerusalem after it was smuggled out of Aleppo, Syria, by a Jewish cheese merchant who hid it in his washing machine. This was the 1,100-year-old Aleppo Codex, considered the oldest and most accurate version of the complete biblical text in Hebrew.

The Bible Project's version of the core text — the one to which the others are compared — is based on this manuscript. Other critical editions of the Bible, such as one currently being prepared in Stuttgart, Germany, are based on a slightly newer manuscript held in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Considering that the nature of their work would be considered controversial, if not offensive, by many religious people, it is perhaps surprising that most of the project's scholars are themselves Orthodox Jews.

"A believing Jew claims that the source of the Bible is prophecy," said the project's bearded academic secretary, Rafael Zer. "But as soon as the words are given to human beings — with God's agreement, and at his initiative — the holiness of the biblical text remains, even if mistakes are made when the text is passed on."

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Illinois To Ban Protests Near Military Funerals

Though similar measures have been ruled unconstitutional by federal judges, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said he will sign a bill that bans protests near military funerals on Sunday.

The "Let Them Rest In Peace Act" targets groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church, which hold signs that say "Thank God for Dead Soldiers," near military funerals and blame the tolerance of homosexuality for the loss of American lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Kane County Chronicle reports that House Bill 180, which Quinn is expected to sign at the Illinois state fair, "expands the perimeter of privacy protecting grieving families from protesters to 300 feet from 200 feet" and also bans protests 30 minutes before and after a funeral service.

The Respect for America's Fallen Heroes Act, which was signed by former President George W. Bush in 2006, bans such protests outside of national cemeteries, and the U.S. Senate took steps to expand that protection to all cemeteries this spring. The constitutionality of the laws, however, have been debated.

In 2010, a federal judge in Missouri tossed the state's military funeral protest ban, saying it violated the First Amendment. And while the American Civil Liberties Union does not defend the Westboro Baptist Church's message, it has defended them in court.

“The problem is, in this instance, that this is essentially a ban on images and words that folks like the Westboro Baptist Church use when they protest across the street from funerals,” ACLU spokesman Ed Yohnka told the Kane County Chronicle. “We believe it is an erroneous interpretation of the ‘fighting words’ doctrine.”

The initial ban on such protests in Illinois was signed into law by former Governor Rod Blagojevich in 2006, and the bill Quinn plans to sign Sunday will expand the existing legislation, according to the Associated Press.

Read More From Huffington Post

Wiltshire Church In Great Britian To Protect Original Copy of King James Bible

A special lectern is being built in a Wiltshire church to protect its original copy of the King James Bible.

The Bible dates back to 1611, and was found in St Lawrence Church near Calne earlier in the year by residents researching the building's history.

The Alan Tilbury-designed glass case will keep the Bible safe whilst allowing visitors to look at it.

There are fewer than 200 original printings of the King James version known to exist.

"The Bible is so beautiful," said Mr Tilbury, who created special chairs for the former archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey.

"The pages are so beautifully produced and amazingly clear in their print and legibility.

"It's a great privileged in many respects, from my point of view, to make something that is going to be simple and important to St Lawrence Church."

Human interference

Described as a fragment, despite most of the Bible being intact, it was first "rediscovered" in the 1800s.

Since then it has suffered from both the ravages of time and some human interference.

The Reverend Francis Fisher found it in 1857 and carved a cover from oak but trimmed the pages, so that the tops are missing.

"Having now got the prototype complete, and the various viewing angles, I think general approval of the design is given," Mr Tilbury added.

"It's go ahead now really with the real piece, which will be made in English oak, and hopefully will be made this year."

Read More From BBC News

Merger to speed up, strengthen Bible translations

Bible League International and the World Bible Translation Center are merging to combine their strengths and to complement each other.

Bible man pointing at scriptureBible League International contributes strength in the areas of administration and relationships internationally with networks in the field, but seeks better access to translations. World Bible Translation Center focuses on easy-to-read Bible translations along with printing and publication of new Bible translations.

Robert Frank, CEO of Bible League International, says the ministries complement one another. "We don't duplicate efforts but we complement," he explains. "For example, WBTC is actively involved in translations and in the development of Christian product that serves the church. We are in the business of distributing that and being able to train the church in using those materials.”

There are now 6,000 languages in the world with 95-percent of the population speaking the top 100 languages. World Bible Translation president Eric Fellman has a goal of translating the top 100 languages of the world.

“We were on pace to do that in about 50 years. Now we're on pace to do it in about 20 more years,” says Fellman. “We've finished 30 of those languages and have 70 left to go, and so just the strength of combining with another organization puts us on a faster pace to accomplish our mission.”

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Another Ten Commandments court fight hits Florida

CROSS CITY, FL - The folks who live in Dixie County along Florida's Gulf coast don't like outsiders butting in, especially when it comes to their religious beliefs.

County officials are appealing a federal judge's order to remove by Sunday a five-foot-high granite monument displaying the Ten Commandments in front of the courthouse in Cross City. It's the latest skirmish in a years-long conflict across the United States over whether the U.S. Constitution prohibits such displays in public forums.

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Casual, Consensual Sex Has Hurt America, Greg Laurie Says

Casual sex between consenting adults is cool and doesn’t hurt anyone is a phrase one hears frequently from those who practice it, but it hurts, at least it has hurt America in a big way, Pastor Greg Laurie said at a mega crusade in Southern California Saturday night.

“Think of what kind of a world we would live in today if this was not committed, think of how many divorces would have been avoided, think of how many families would still be together, think of how many children would still have a daddy to come home to, and in some cases a mom,” Laurie said at the Harvest Crusade at the Angel Stadium in Anaheim.

“I am not speaking from an ivory tower,” the lead pastor at Harvest Church in Riverside, Calif., told the thousands of people who came to listen to him on the second day of the three-day event that began Friday night.

“I was conceived out of wedlock. My mom, married and divorced seven times with lots of boyfriends in between, had a little fling down a long beach and I was conceived. I was not planned. I was, what you call, an illegitimate child.”

Laurie said thankfully his mom did not abort him. “But I was planned… by God, as is every child.” He added that there could be illegitimate parents, but there were no illegitimate children.

Greg Laurie added that due to sexual immorality America had the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the developed world. “Each year, more than one million teens become pregnant and many of these babies never make it to term. One out of every five abortions is performed on a woman under the age of 20. It doesn’t hurt anyone? What about the baby who is aborted? That’s taking an innocent life.”

That’s not all. What about AIDS? “Do you know AIDS is a leading killer of Americans between the ages of 25 and 44?” he asked. “Twenty five percent of all HIV infections are found in people under the age of 22. Twenty percent of those who have HIV in America don’t know it. There are 236,000 people in America who have the disease and don’t know it… and are spreading it.”

Above all, it is sin, that’s what the Bible says. Adultery and fornication are sin, he stressed. “Adultery is having sex with someone besides your wife. Let’s say you are married and you have sex with someone else, that’s adultery… It’s such a serious sin… it’s in the Ten Commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’”

Sex is not evil, Greg Laurie clarified. “God created sex. It was His idea and there’s a right place for sex, and it’s in a relationship between a man and a woman who have committed themselves to one another in marriage.”

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

New Form of the Mark of the Beast a Tattoo-like Patch

Engineers at the University of Illinois today unveiled novel, skin-mounted electronics this week whose circuitry bends, wrinkles, and even stretches with skin.

The device platform includes electronic components, medical diagnostics, communications, and human-machine interfacing on a patch so thin and durable it can be mounted to skin much like a temporary tattoo.

What's more, the team was able to demonstrate its invention across a wide range of components, including LEDs, transistors, wireless antennas, sensors, and conductive coils and solar cells for power.

"We threw everything in our bag of tricks onto that platform, and then added a few other new ideas on top of those to show that we could make it work," said engineering professor John A. Rogers in a news release. The research is described in detail in the journal Science

The range of medical applications includes EEG and EMG sensors to track nerves and muscles--something that tends to be limited to a lab given the number of electrodes and wires involved.

And the patch itself, mounted on a thin sheet of water-soluble plastic before being laminated to skin with water, can be applied not only like a temporary tattoo, but even on top of a temporary tattoo to help conceal it (see slideshow).

"The blurring of electronics and biology is really the key point here," said Northwestern University engineering professor Yonggang Huang, who has published work with Rogers before and whose group was charged with mechanics and materials questions. "All established forms of electronics are hard, rigid. Biology is soft, elastic. It's two different worlds. This is a way to truly integrate them."

My Fellow American

Christians must learn to forgive those that have hurt us......we must forgive people from our parents, friends, jobs, and yes even Muslims.

Taking a stand for Christ doesn't mean that you don't allow a Muslim to be your doctor or sit beside you. That is RACISM and it is not of Christ.

Jesus Christ isn't afraid of the devil, nor religion, or other people that were different than Him.

We must focus on how we can reach out and meet the needs of everyone we ever come in contact with. Jesus would try and show them that while they are not following the Heavenly Father, He would still give them something to eat or drink without hesitation.

This is the true act of Christianity. To love one another even when it hurts.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Helping Children At-Risk for Abuse through Home Visiting

In 1976, while a Medic in the Air Force, I worked as an orderly in a civilian hospital. In what was a rare instance, I was asked to spend the evening on the pediatric floor, sitting next to the bassinet of a 6-month-old baby girl with a broken leg. At the time I was unaware of the surrounding circumstances. Sometime later I learned that the same baby was brought back to the hospital, DOA – she was a victim of child abuse.

Some experiences are seared in our memories. As pastors and ministry leaders we often find ourselves in the middle of the searing process; whether we have had the arduous task of reporting an instance of abuse or counseling the abused, now grown.

But, we are not without hope, for we know that the One who knits within the womb sees each one and takes note of their need (Psalm 10 and 139). And it is this seeing, steadfast love, found in the cross that compels us to advocate on behalf of these little ones and help their young mothers.

There are some things we take for granted when a baby is born. The added stress of caring for another life should be, by God’s design, softened by the presence of a spouse and the guidance of parents and extended family members. Unfortunately, today, among many young expectant mothers, the father of the child is not a supportive figure if he is involved at all.

To make matters worse, many of these young women have little or no support from their own parents. The young mothers are caught in a terrible cycle of irresponsible living. And, while not a guarantee, this lack of support often leads to sad futures for both mother and child.

Research shows that incidents of child abuse and neglect are lowest in households with married parents. In a long-term study of 644 families in upstate New York, children living with a single parent were two times more likely to be physically abused than children living with both parents. Overall, as many as 700,000 incidents of abuse and neglect are reported each year, and these figures tell only part of the story. The General Accounting Office estimates that as many as 500,000 additional incidents escape documentation each year, due to missing data and poor reporting procedures among other factors (see chart.)

A number of Christian leaders have become so concerned that we have created a new organization called Shepherding the Next Generation, which supports cost-effective ways to reduce abuse and neglect among children in poor, at-risk families. We have identified one highly successful strategy that can cut child abuse and neglect nearly in half. It’s called voluntary home visiting and many states are now supporting it.

What is Home Visiting?

It’s a strategy in which a parent (often a single mom) volunteers to have a professional or paraprofessional – frequently a registered nurse – come into the home and offer guidance and support so that the mother can become the skillful parent God intended her to be. Research has shown that pairing nurses with young, poor women experiencing their first pregnancy can be very effective in reducing child abuse and neglect and improving parenting skills.

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Or Else: Why America Needs Morality

During the course of any given month, publishers send me dozens of books to review. I don’t get the time I’d like to even page through most of them, but the other day one caught my eye. It’s called “After America: Get Ready for Armageddon.”

Now, I’m not into sensationalism, but the book was written by conservative commentator Mark Steyn. In the first chapter, Steyn penned something that stopped me in my tracks. He’s identified the source of our economic and governmental woes. And, I’m not shy to add, I’ve been talking about this for two years now.

Here’s what Steyn had to say:

“When government spends on the scale Washington’s got used to, that’s not a spending crisis, it’s a moral one. . . It’s not just about balancing the books, but about balancing the most basic impulses of society. These are structural, and ultimately, moral questions. Credit depends on trust, and trust pre-supposes responsibility. So, if you have a credit boom in an age that has all but abolished personal responsibility, it’s not hard to figure how it’s going to end.”


How did we get into this economic mess? The denizens of Wall Street, Capitol Hill, and yes, Main Street, U.S.A., cast prudence and responsibility to the curb and chased dollars, votes, and the good life. And it all came crashing down around our heads.

And have we learned anything since the crisis struck? Apparently not, as the recent escapades surrounding the debt ceiling show all too clearly.

Steyn predicts that if Americans do not change course—personally and corporately—the America we know will collapse within years, not decades.

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Iran Pastor On Death Row Urges Faith In Christ

TEHRAN, IRAN (Worthy News)– An evangelical pastor who faces execution in Iran for refusing to abandon his Christian faith has urged fellow believers to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and the “Word of God” despite persecution, according to a letter obtained by Worthy News.

Youcef Nadarkhani, 33, whose first name is also spelled as Yousef, was told last month by Iran’s Supreme Court that he can be executed if he does not recant his Christian faith and returns to Islam.

But in a letter written behind bars earlier this year, Nadarkhani makes clear the Bible tells Christians to expect persecution and that he remains hopeful whatever the outcome of his trial in this strict Islamic nation.

The “Word of God tells us to expect to suffer hardship and dishonor for the sake of His Name. Our Christian confession is not acceptable if we ignore this statement, if we do not manifest the patience of the Lord in our sufferings,” he wrote.

“Anybody ignoring it will be ashamed in that day [when facing God]. Let us remember that sometimes the leap of faith leads us towards some impasses. Just as the Word led the sons of Israel leaving Egypt toward the impasse of the Red sea. These impasses are midway between promises of God and their fulfillment and they challenge our faith,” the pastor added.

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UN wants new global currency to replace dollar

In a radical report, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has said the system of currencies and capital rules which binds the world economy is not working properly, and was largely responsible for the financial and economic crises.

It added that the present system, under which the dollar acts as the world's reserve currency , should be subject to a wholesale reconsideration.

Although a number of countries, including China and Russia, have suggested replacing the dollar as the world's reserve currency, the UNCTAD report is the first time a major multinational institution has posited such a suggestion.

In essence, the report calls for a new Bretton Woods-style system of managed international exchange rates, meaning central banks would be forced to intervene and either support or push down their currencies depending on how the rest of the world economy is behaving.

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Kids see sex on television, not the web

August 8, 2011

Kids see sex on television, not the web

WASHINGTON — A new study has a bit of good news and lots of bad news for parents worried that their children are being exposed to sex online.

The good news? Most kids say they aren't exposed to a lot of sexual material on the Internet.

The bad news? Most kids say the opposite about television and music.

As reported in USA Today, between 16 and 25 percent of children say they are exposed to sexual material on the Internet, while 75 percent say they are exposed to it on TV and 69 percent in their music. The data is from a study that will be published in the journal Pediatrics. The director of the study, Michele Ybarra of Internet Solutions for Kids, is conducting a longitudinal study, following a group of about 1,500 kids for six years.

She presented her study at the American Psychological Association's annual meeting.

"We're following them through adolescence to understand how exposure to technology and experiences in technology are influencing their behavior," Ybarra was quoted as saying.

Her study also had another bit of good news: only 5 percent of kids have participated in "sexting." Other polling has had that percentage much higher.

But the study doesn't mean parents shouldn't take precautions. In fact, other data suggests that porn is a major problem among kids, teens and young adults.

In 2009, the fourth-most searched word on the Internet for kids ages 7 and under was "porn," according to data by For all kids — those up to age 18 — sex was No. 4, porn No. 5.

A 2008 study of undergraduate and graduate students ages 18-26 showed that 69 percent of the men and 10 percent of the women viewed pornography more than once a month. The study was published in the Journal of Adolescent Research.

From the Christian Examiner

Churches Unite to Free Oppressed N. Korea

With the declining popularity of dictator Kim Jong Il and the pending transfer of power to his son, some are predicting that communist North Korea is headed for a collapse.

As a result, Christian leaders believe this is a critical time to call upon the power of prayer for freedom in the oppressed county.

A Painful Picture

Danny Lee, 24, remembers his childhood in North Korea. His grandmother raised him alone after police arrested his Christian mother. Like thousands of others, she found herself in a concentration camp.

She fled the country after her release, and at 17, Danny escaped to China to begin his search for his mother. He paid a broker who helped to facilitate his escape.

"I thought, 'I want to get out of here' ... because everything was so hard," Lee recalled to CBN News. "And I didn't have too much, no food."

But escaping from North Korea is not easy, even after crossing the Tumen River into to China.

"China doesn't protect," filmmaker Justin Wheeler told CBN News. "China looks at them as economic migrants, and so will not protect North Korean refugees currently."

Hiding: An Escape Journey

In the documentary "Hiding," Wheeler follows five North Korean refugees like Lee on their harrowing 3,500 mile journey from China to southeast Asia. It's a modern day underground railroad, but most never reach freedom.

"I think one of the most shocking moments was with a conversation I had with one of the refugees in the film. He actually escaped North Korea because he had a dream about King David in the Bible," Wheeler said. "And he had never heard of the gospel before. He had never heard of Jesus. He had never heard of God before."

Wheeler is part of LINK, a human rights organization that helped Danny Lee and other North Korean refugees find freedom. The Southern California-based group has hosted 400 screenings of its eye-opening film across the country, raised more than $100,000, and launched 110 new LINK chapters at high schools and colleges.

"We want to redefine the way people think about North Korea and the North Korean people," said LINK executive director Hannah Song. "We want to provide emergency relief to North Koreans wherever they can be reached."

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Boy's Family Credits Prayer for 'Miracle'

A 12-year-old boy on a trip with his youth group to a Washington state beach disappeared under the water for 20 minutes.

After an intensive search, rescuers found his unresponsive body and feared the worst. But today, Dale Ostrander is alert, responsive and talking.

His parents credit the power of prayer.

Rescuers frantically searched for the young Ostrander on jet skis, after he got caught in a rip tide off the coast of Washington that dragged him under the water.

Nicole Kissel, 12, was body boarding nearby when she heard Dale's cry for help.

"I went to the bottom of the sea floor. I could feel it. I felt his pants and I had pushed him up, then I went up," she recalled. "I said, 'We have to keep swimming.' The board was almost to land. I was swimming and I looked back he was next to me. I grabbed the board and he was gone."

Ostrander's youth group on the beach immediately began praying.


British Christians Respond with Prayer and Action as England Erupts into Anger and Violence Following Shooting by London Police

LONDON, UK -- Christian leaders in London and across the United Kingdom are calling for both prayer and action to help those affected by three days of rioting.

The rioting and looting follows the shooting death of 29-year-old Mark Duggan by police in Tottenham, London, last week.

Billy and Caroline Kennedy, Leaders of Pioneer, part of the New Community Network at Central Hall, St Mary Street, Southampton, told ANS: “I'm sure, like us, you've been glued to your TV screens and twitter accounts watching the unfolding events in London and in other cities across the UK.

“There are many friends of Pioneer, churches and community projects that we are linked with being affected by the recent turmoil. We are also aware that you will know others beyond our network who find themselves in a similar position.”

The Kennedys said: “We wanted to write to you all and encourage you to see if there are ways you can help and support those affected. We can often feel overwhelmed by the scale of what is going and feel paralyzed. But there are things we can do, whether we are local to the areas most affected or not.”

The Kennedys suggested “a simple phone call, text or email to check people are okay would be appreciated.

“For those of you on twitter, you'll be aware that the top three tweets trending globally are #riotcleanup, #prayforlondon and #londonriots.”

The Kennedys are directing friends to “(which) is a very practical response to the events of recent days. If you are in the areas affected why not get involved and encourage your congregations also. What a great response.

“For those of who can't get to the affected areas, we can pray,” they said.

The Kennedys also told ANS that Pete Grieg, 24-7prayer, will be recording a short video later today from Tottenham, giving some prayer pointers. Readers are asked to keep an eye on

**Phil & Julie Stokes, leaders of The Well Community Church in Camberwell, organized a prayer meeting last night for local Christians. At 12.00pm today they will be meeting with the Southwark Borough Council, where Phil serves as Dean to the Council.

**Steve Clifford, in his role at the Evangelical Alliance, is being called on for comment. Pray for wisdom.

**Patrick Regan, director of XLP and member of The Well, has already been quoted on TV as someone who has the respect of some of those who are involved with the rioting.

“Let's pray for the police. I have a number of friends who serve in the police force. Let's pray for wisdom for those in charge and safety for every officer,” the Kennedys wrote.

“It's time for the church to stand up, pull together and work and pray for a new day in our nation,” they said.

Adrian Hawkes, who runs a ministry in north London, wrote: “Obviously many of Rainbow (Fellowship) live in Tottenham, although most of us were away at our camp, 200+ there. People getting saved... but Gareth and Jo who lead Rainbow live right by the main fire, I understand his garden is covered with ash, we also have friend who lived in a flat above the carpet shop which was the first place to go up in flames, they escaped with their baby to their car and went to stay with in-laws, they are part of another London church.

“Coming to the office today I can see the cloud of thick black smoke pouring over our area, our office is in Edmonton, London, (in the) borough of Enfield. Yesterday coming home from the camp, even areas that were not immediately affected where all closed by 3.00p.m., shuttered and locked up with streets very quiet, even in Barnet. I do think most importantly that our young people need to hear that there is a God to live for, who gives us real purpose in life. Currently we are running a small college where we take in NEET young people (Not in Education Employment or Training) they do not have any purpose.”

Pastor David Wise, of Greenford Baptist Church, located in the London Borough of Ealing, where riots occurred Monday night, writes: “As you will already know Central and West Ealing were areas where there was rioting and looting last night. We are calling GBC together tonight to pray from 8PM till 9PM.”

Following some concern for safety, the Seventh-Day Adventist youth department has now severely downgraded this evening’s pre-arranged event and are only planning on a few experienced Youth leaders meeting at Tottenham.


Bitterness really can make you sick

Tell one person they make you sick, it's hyperbole. Tell dozens of people over time that they make you sick, and you may have a real medical argument.

Researchers from Concordia University in Montreal report that constant bitterness can lead to physical illness, affecting everything from organ function to immune response and vulnerability to disease.

The findings, which appear in the new book Embitterment: Societal, Psychological and Clinical Perspectives, shed light on the complex ways in which people's attitudes and feelings affect their health.

"Negative emotions typically have the power to influence our biology," says Carsten Wrosch, an associate professor of psychology.

"They can . . . release more cortisol into circulation, which in turn, can communicate with other body systems — the immune system, for example. And if there's immune dysregulation, such as systemic inflammation, that increases the person's likelihood of developing a host of different diseases."

Plainly, in blaming the world for your problems, you invite even more woes upon yourself.

Wrosch and his co-author, Jesse Renaud, identify failure as a major culprit behind bitterness, which sees people pointing fingers at external causes for their shortcomings rather than looking at their own actions.

"It's not only the failure; it's the way people attribute causes to the failure," explains Wrosch.

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Countries With Worst Religious Freedom Grades Are Mostly Islamic

( – Muslim-majority countries score worst across a range of measures in a comprehensive new study tracking government restrictions on religion as well as social hostilities involving religion around the world.

The study by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, released Tuesday, found that nearly one-third of the world’s population lives in countries where religion-related government restrictions or social hostilities rose significantly between mid-2006 and mid-2009.

Geographically, the Middle East/North Africa region boasted the largest proportion of countries – 30 percent – where official restrictions on religion increased over that three-year period.

Digging deeper, the 117-page report reveals that countries belonging to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) dominate many of the most serious measures tracked at the end of the survey period in mid-2009.

Seven of the ten countries with the highest – that is, worst – grades when it comes to government restrictions on religion were OIC countries – Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, Maldives, Malaysia and Indonesia. The other three were China, Burma and Eritrea.

Of the 10 countries on that benchmark index, six are designated by the U.S. government as “countries of particular concern” for religious freedom violations – Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.

A separate index in the Pew report graded countries according to levels of social hostility involving religion. Eight of the top ten countries in that index were Muslim-majority states – Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Bangladesh and Egypt. The other two, India and Israel, have Hindu and Jewish majorities respectively, and large Muslim minorities.

In an index measuring official interference with religious practice, 18 out of 26 countries (69 percent) whose government “prohibits worship or religious practices of one or more religious groups as a general policy,” were OIC members – Brunei, Chad, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The other eight were Burma, China, Eritrea, Laos, Madagascar, Monaco, Tuvalu and Vietnam.

A grading of countries where conversion from one religion to another is restricted was also dominated by Islamic states, accounting for 25 out of 29 countries listed (86 percent). They were Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Comoros, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

The four non-Muslim countries were Eritrea, India, Israel and Vietnam.

Taking the conversion issue a step further, among 13 countries where there were incidents of physical violence over conversions from one religion to another, 10 (77 percent) were Muslim – Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Comoros, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia and Syria. The other three were India, Mongolia and Nepal.

Sixteen out of 26 countries/territories where “religion-related terrorist groups” perpetrated violence that resulted in ten or more injuries or deaths” were OIC members – Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Mauritania, Niger, Pakistan, Palestinian territories, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Uzbekistan and Yemen

The 10 non-Muslim countries were Central African Republic, China, Congo, Ethiopia, India, Israel, Nepal, Philippines, Russia and Sri Lanka. (The report does not provide a breakdown of actual attacks, but in at least some of those countries – India, Israel, the Philippines and Russia – terror activity is largely attributed to Islamist groups.)

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Feeding the Poor Through Pay-As-You-Go

Kathy had been out of the job market for about 25 years—instead staying home with her three children—when everything fell apart. The 50-something resident of Edison, in north-central New Jersey, had worked part-time as a file clerk to help pay for her three daughters' college tuition. But she left that job after her father died and her husband suffered a heart attack. Then her husband left, leaving Kathy without an income to provide for her children.

"It's a little scary," says Kathy, who asked that her full name not be used. "The rug was pulled out from under my feet."

Kathy isn't alone. In some communities surrounding Edison, 27 percent of the population lives below the national poverty level.

For Kathy and many others, a church in nearby Highland Park offers a unique solution. A Better World Café, one of a handful of "pay-as-you-can" restaurants in the United States, provides clients with good meals and job training, among other things. Hosted at the Reformed Church of Highland Park, the idea for the restaurant was hatched in 2009 in a group working to meet local needs.

At one meeting, Lisanne Finston, executive director of Elijah's Promise, a faith-based nonprofit, discussed "food insecurity" just when the recession was pushing more people into food pantries. Someone mentioned hearing about restaurants where customers pay only what they can afford. Jean Stockdale, executive director of Who Is My Neighbor? Inc., another New Jersey faith-based nonprofit, Googled the concept. Then she e-mailed Denise Cerreta, founder of the One World Cafe in Salt Lake City, arguably the country's first pay-as-you-can restaurant.

"It seemed like a solution for a lot of problems in our town and for the low-income families in our area," Stockdale says.

Stockdale and Finston pursued the plan, and A Better World Café opened in October 2009 at the church.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Muslim Extremists Threaten to Burn Christian Women

Four months after a recent convert to Christianity from Islam in eastern India’s West Bengal state was stripped and beaten, about 50 Muslim extremists yesterday disrupted a prayer meeting held in her home, threatening to burn it down if she did not return to Islam, area Christians said.

The extremists warned Selina Bibi of Motijil village in Murshidabad district that if she did not return to Islam, then she must either leave the area or see her house burned down. At her baptism at Believers Church four kilometers from her home on March 29, a large crowd of Muslim extremists disrupted the service, said a pastor identified only as Bashir.

“I pleaded with them to let me at least finish the worship service before they attack us,” he told Compass.

When word of her conversion to Christianity reached her village, another extremist group from Motijil led by Jamal Shaike disrupted the service. Shaike and the others verbally abused the Christians, and he ordered his son who was present at the service to leave immediately, Bashir said.

The pastor said that on April 5, two Muslim women along with members of the extremist group summoned Selina Bibi to one of their homes and forcefully stripped her naked.

“The radicals believe that when any person from the Muslim community becomes Christian, they get Christian marks on their body,” Bashir said. “When the radicals could not find such marks, they started beating her up.”

The Muslim extremists later gathered at the local mosque and resolved to ostracize her until she returned to Islam. She lives only with her two teenage sons.

Selina Bibi told Bashir that her body bore the marks of suffering for the sake of Christ, and that she was being treated like a criminal.

“She was not allowed to buy goods from the store, nor was she allowed to sell any vegetables,” he said. “They have also restricted her from procuring water from the village well. In spite of the persecutions she constantly faces from the radicals, she has started conducting a Bible study for ladies every Thursday at her home.”

After the extremist threats yesterday, study member Naseema Bibi said she and some of the other women attending the meeting went to the Murshidabad police station to file a complaint. Police called both parties, and they agreed in writing to allow each other to practice their respective faiths, and that police would prosecute any further attacks or disturbances, she said.

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Case against pastor studied, may be void. He's accused of filming girls in shower at church

Charges against a former youth pastor accused of videotaping four teenage girls in a shower at a Pasadena church in 2007 may not be valid because they were not filed within the three-year statute of limitations.

Thomas Jason Fortenberry, 30, was charged Thursday with two counts of improper photography for the alleged Nov. 4, 2007, incident.

However, Texas law reads that the two state jail felonies must be charged within three years of the offense, a time limit that expired in November.

Asked about dismissing the charges Monday, prosecutors said they are still "evaluating the evidence."

Churches to Read Torah as Others Read Koran

Churches in the U.S. are preparing to read sections of the Torah on Sunday, August 13, in a show of solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people.

The move is a response to an initiative by a group of churches that read from the Muslim Koran during their services on Sunday, June 26. According to the Faith Shared project, which initiated the Koran reading, 66 churches from 32 states joined that effort.

In an effort to counter the move, a grassroots movement of churches across America is preparing to read from sections of the Torah during their services.

According to Pastor Mark Biltz, one of the pastors leading the move, while Jewish communities around the world read the Shema prayer, Christian communities will join them in solidarity. “There is a special bond between Jews and Christians, as both hold as the greatest commandment to love the L-rd their G-d with all their heart," Pastor Biltz explained. "So I’ve also posted the Shema in as many languages as I could find on our website so everyone could see it.

“I am asking in a show of solidarity with the G-d of Israel, the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that churches/organizations join together in one accord and read from the Torah during their Saturday/Sunday services this coming August 13 and 14,” he wrote.

Biltz went on to say that "The suggested reading from this Torah portion is the greatest commandment, found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9, that we love the Lord with all our heart, soul and strength."

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Teachers and the Question of Corporal Punishment

In recent years, great controversies have spanned across all news networks, with their focus being the extent of the teacher's control over children. Central to these controversies is the question of whether a child should be disciplined by his parents or by his teachers, and whether the law should punish teachers who take action or refuse to take action against harmful student behavior. Fortunately for Americans, the answer lies within the works of a man who greatly influenced our very declaration of independence: John Locke.

In his Second Treatise of Government, Locke explains that a child, not having full possession or full development of his mental faculties, cannot be considered to have full liberties and rights. For the rights and liberties owned by a grown man are owned solely because he is capable of no longer being a danger to himself or others, knowing well the boundaries within which he may interact with his neighbors (sect 58-59). But before such faculty is developed, he is held under the near-total authority of his parents in all matters not requiring the state's intervention.

It is the child's lack of maturity which grants his parents authority over him otherwise excluded to the rest of mankind. This institution is so obvious that it is generally considered natural. For without such an appreciation for the institution of parenthood, as well as the powers it must necessarily grant parents, not only is the child susceptible to harm and potential death, but so are those in his neighborhood. And if a child is not properly raised, the likelihood of his harming society could very well continue into his adult years.

This authority, to all reasonable men, must necessarily include discipline through corporal punishment. Were a child fully capable of reason, respecting the superior understanding of his parents and acting with wisdom, such correction would not be necessary. But shy of such respect, all those under parental authority must have pain substituted in place of reason until reason is achievable, the more primitive regions of the mind being conditioned to follow law when higher portions cannot or will not.

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Dobson: America Desperately Needs God's Touch

HOUSTON, TX - Thousands of Americans who gathered here this weekend for a national prayer rally heard many messages of concern about the state of their nation -- but they also heard that with God's blessing, their country can be healed.

"His agenda is not a political agenda; his agenda is a salvation agenda," Texas Governor Rick Perry told the more than 30,000 in attendance at Saturday's prayer rally -- not including the thousands more who watched via streaming video online. (See earlier story)

Organizers of "The Response" said they sought to not make the prayer rally about politics or Perry's possible bid for president, or design an event around any one Christian leader. Reliant Stadium was packed, however, with well-known followers of Christ who simply wanted to exalt the name of Jesus as the nation faces historic challenges.

Dr. James Dobson of Family Talk was one of those in attendance. He told OneNewsNow that he believes the prayer rally will have more lasting impact than people realize -- and that he is hopeful it will spawn a "national revival" because the nation "desperately need[s] a touch" from God.

"We don't have all the answers. We don't have any of them," he said. "We've got a lot of questions we don't have answers [for]. And I just think that this is a historical moment in the long history of this great nation."

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Monday, August 1, 2011

The Language Of Christianity

Military Chaplains Concerned About The End Of Don't Ask Don't Tell

(Fox News)--The military's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy,” will be no more as of Sept. 20, when homosexual men and women will be allowed to serve openly in all branches of the U.S. armed forces.

But a number of military chaplains fear an unofficial version of the policy will take its place, one that muzzles and marginalizes chaplains who hold strict biblical beliefs about homosexuality.

"We've already seen that a chaplain had an assignment pulled because he was critical of the repeal of DADT," says retired Col. Ron Crews, a former U.S. Army chaplain.

rews, along with several other chaplain endorsers (denominations that sponsor military chaplains) are meeting with attorneys this week in Scottsdale, Ariz., to form a coalition that will provide legal and other support for chaplains and soldiers who might be disciplined over conflicts concerning their views on homosexuality. Crews is the executive director of the newly formed Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty.

"We need to cover our chaplains and all military personnel who hold traditional orthodox views on homosexuality, that their constitutional rights will not be infringed upon in this new environment," said Crews.

The government is assuring chaplains they have nothing to fear. A Department of Defense statement says, "Chaplains will continue to have freedom to practice their religion according to the tenets of their faith. Chaplains are not required to take actions that are inconsistent with their religious counseling ... or modifying forms of prayer or worship."

But Crews believes otherwise saying, "That line from the DOD is not the truth. They say there are no issues, but the issues are there."

One example, Crews says, is the military's “Strong Bonds” program, where chaplains council couples, often during retreats, on how to strengthen their marriages and family structures under the pressure of serving their country. Crews says the Department of Defense has had no instructions or guidelines on how to deal with same-sex couples.

If a chaplain holds Biblical orthodox views that see homosexuality as a sin, will he or she be reprimanded or disciplined or reassigned? Crews wonders, "Will they have to cut out chunks of the Bible that they can speak to soldiers about?"

But Chaplain Carleton Birch, spokesperson for the Army Chief of Chaplains, says the military as of right now doesn't recognize same sex marriages, even though six states have legalized it.

"We're working under the assumption that DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) is the law of the land and we haven't been working in anticipation of anything else right now," said Birch.

Crews says that's precisely the point. All the training that chaplains have been receiving for months anticipating the end of DADT was conditioned on DOMA being in place. But the White House announced back in the spring that the Defense of Marriage Act, which says marriage is only between a man and a woman, was not legally defensible. Several members of Congress last week also held hearings on the "Respect for Marriage Act," introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstin (D-Calif) in March, which aims to repeal DOMA.

Birch and others agree all bets are off if DOMA is repealed. "I don't think we know the implications yet."

Even though chaplains are free to exercise their religious beliefs in the pulpit, there are no guidelines for the trenches. And there are also no guidelines for soldiers who may be uncomfortable sharing close living and sleeping quarters with a gay or lesbian soldier. Crews asks "If a private first class is a assigned a homosexual bunk mate, will he be able to share his personal story about what his view on what sin is?"

Without guidelines or uniform rules, commanders will become judge and jury. That is why Crews and the conservative legal advocacy group The Alliance Defense Fund" are making this preemptive move.