Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Atheists Say "Santa" is OK but Jesus Has to Go! Calls Nativity a "Superstition"

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has taken offense with a nativity scene displayed outside a courthouse in downtown Athens, Texas.

The Keep Athens Beautiful Committee has been putting up the nativity scene since 2002, and County Judge Richard Sanders says it’s not violating any law, according to ABC News affiliate KBMT.

“Because we have all the other decorations, it’s legal,” Sanders said. “Our county attorney has looked into it.”

A Henderson County resident complained to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based atheist group, and the foundation notified the committee that the nativity scene was in violation of federal law. The foundation asked for the baby Jesus to be removed, or for a sign to be put up next to his crib that would read: “At this season of the winter solstice may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”

But while some believe Santa is “but myth and superstition,” no one has asked for a sign to be placed next to him, clarifying his non-existence. The town has several other seasonal decorations up, such as reindeer, garden gnomes and snowmen, but the nativity scene is the only decoration has been criticized as a religious symbol. As for Santa, he’s more of a tradition than a religious icon, so the foundation has not taken issue with him.

Henderson County Commissioner Joe Hall says he’ll fight to keep the nativity scene in place.

“Don’t come down here and tell me there is no God. This nation is a Christian nation regardless of what those fruit loops and fruitcakes in Washington D.C. say. Hell will freeze over before I vote to have it removed,” Hall said.

Pastor Nathan Lorick of First Baptist Church in Malakoff, about 10 miles from Athens, said it is time to stand up and speak up in defense of Christianity, which is the majority in Athens.

“I hope this is a platform all across the nation that says, let’s take America back,” he said.


Monday, December 19, 2011

How The Recession Has Affected Many This Christmas Season

YAHOO NEWS--For most Americans, the holidays are a time for happiness and celebration with family and friends--or at least for a few precious days of hard-earned relaxation. But when you're out of work and struggling to get by, the season can make things even harder.

Barry Viprino, a 30-year old financial adviser from Cape Cod, Mass., has been jobless for a year, and his family of five has been living in a one-room apartment. "It is hard looking myself in the mirror, or my kids in the eye," he told us. "For Christmas, they keep asking if we can just get a house. And I have to explain that, Santa cannot give us a house."

Barry Viprino and family

Four years into the Great Recession and the jobless recovery that's followed, we've become inured to the grim statistics. More than 13 million Americans are still officially out of work, and more than four in 10 of them are considered long-term unemployed--they've been jobless for six months or longer. But personal accounts like Barry's--or like one from Norman Spooner of Spencer, Iowa, who explained why he's staying home alone for Christmas this year while his wife visits their grown children: "I am too ashamed to go because I have nothing to offer" -- still hit home.

Over the summer, we asked Yahoo News readers to tell us what it's like to be out of work for an extended period. We got thousands of compelling responses, which we used to create an up-close look at the plight of the unemployed -- a project we called Down But Not Out. For the next installment, we put out a call last week for more stories, this time about how the jobless are coping with the holidays. And once again, readers responded with some fascinating, poignant, heartfelt tales, that help create a rich, nuanced picture of prolonged joblessness in America.

We've posted some of them, in full, on the separate Tumblr site we created for the project. And we've excerpted some below.

"We have started writing letters to one another."
It's not all doom and gloom. To enjoy the season, some readers have been forced to get creative --and even have found some unexpected sources of contentment.

Kellie Norton with her son Justin, at his graduation from U.S. Airforce basic trainin …

Kellie Norton, 38, of Colorado Springs, Colo., is a single mother who lost her job in a department store in March after her autistic 13-year old son became ill and she had to change her schedule. "He doesn't understand that Mommy has no money for presents," she wrote.

Still, she's looking on the bright side. "We won't be traveling anywhere this year. I can not afford the gas," she told us. "I will be bundling my son up on Christmas Eve though. We will spend the few dollars in gas to drive around the city and see all the Christmas lights. The heat in my truck no longer works, so it's gloves and hot chocolate to stay warm. But that's OK. If there is one thing my son loves, it is Christmas lights."

"I can't give anybody anything for Christmas," wrote Paul M., 25, who lost his job three months ago with a contractor at Chicago's Midway Airport. "The least I could do is take some of the food stamps I'm expecting soon and buy materials to make homemade pretzels for my family and friends. The only downside is they'll be hard once they get them."

Dina Johnson with her grand-daughter

Dina Johnson, 39, from southeast Idaho, who lost her job over two years ago, told us she's found a good way to let her loved ones know what they mean to her."We have started writing letters to one another," she wrote. "Mainly the letters are sharing how the other person is important in our lives and what little things they have done to strengthen that relationship."

Heather Yeager, 26, from Tampa, Fla., lost her job at a hospital two months ago, and is facing eviction from her home, along with her four kids, all under the age of 6. "I can't just go out and buy my kids things for Christmas like I would like," she wrote, "so I find myself on the Internet looking at Craigslist ads for things people are giving away for free so that my kids can have some sense of Christmas."

Kevin S., a 48-year-old Californian, told us that last year he was unemployed and couldn't afford gifts for his young son, a big SpongeBob fan. "So I found a yellow and pink sponge in our bathroom," Kevin wrote. "I drew SpongeBob's eyes, nose and mouth on the yellow sponge and cut the pink sponge into a star for the Patrick character. He absolutely loved them and took them everywhere he went. A friend of mine saw them and laughed and said: 'Recession, huh?' 'Yup,' I told him."

"I am always so relieved when Christmas is over"
Still, a lot of readers wrote about the pain of being unable to afford to buy gifts or plan celebrations.

"I always feel like I am missing out on something," wrote Brenda Tlapa, 44, of Bedford Park, Ill., who lost her job at a Fortune 500 design company back in 2008, and is scheduled to lose a warehouse position this Friday. "I see others shopping and spending money, and I honestly get a little upset and resentful. I have absolutely no money to spend on gifts, nothing to give my mother (who means the world to me) and nothing to give my nieces and nephews."

"I am always so relieved when Christmas is over," she added. "It's like a huge weight is lifted off my shoulders."

Spooner, who told us he's spending the holiday alone because he's shamed about being unable to afford gifts, appears to feel the same way this year. "I cannot watch any TV shows or movies that are Christmas themed," he wrote. "I cannot go into any stores during the season because it hurts to see all the Christmas gift wrap, decorations and shoppers. If I am watching TV and a Christmas-related commercial comes on, I immediately have to mute the TV and turn away. I have always loved Christmas and have never missed a Black Friday shopping day, until this year."

Tom H., 57, who lives near Austin, Texas, and has been looking for work for more than two years, is making sacrifices. "My wife asked me for some face wash for Christmas, with tears in her eyes, saying it is something she can't afford to buy anymore," he told us. "I plan on finding something else I can sell to try to order that for her."

K. Smith

Meanwhile, K. Smith (she asked to be identified that way), 50, from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, whose job with a defense contractor was outsourced to China, is cutting back. "There will be little Christmas in our house," she wrote. "Some stocking-stuffers are wrapped in newspaper under a Charlie Brown tree. No turkey or ham waits to be served on fancy linen . . . . No, it'll be simple fare, biscuits and gravy, spaghetti and such." And for Mike Famous of Skippack, Penn., who's been out of work around two years, Christmas is a difficult reminder of better days. "You damn sure don't think about Christmas," he wrote. "If you do, it's only in the sentimental, wayward sense that you have some distant memory as a kid or of when you were with your kids and times were good . . . . I can recall the night before Christmas like it was the night before PARADISE. Those were the days, as they say. Now twenty bucks for a tree is twenty bucks I ain't got. Twenty bucks is three dinners if I work at it. Keep the tree and let me eat."
Read More from YAHOO News

Is There A World War On Christmas?

NEW YORK, Dec. 19, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on how crazy the "War on Christmas" has become:
North Korea is putting South Korea on notice, warning of "unexpected consequences" if Seoul displays Christmas lights near the border. In China last week, government officials and the police smashed the sound equipment of Christians who were about to celebrate Christmas in a village outside Beijing.
Our atheists share the same mindset, if not the same means.
In a South Carolina cancer center, a 67-year-old volunteer Santa was evicted because of the "different cultures and beliefs of the patients we care for"; it later reversed its decision. In an elementary school in Stockton, California, poinsettias were banned but somehow snowmen were permitted; they justified their censorship by saying there was a Sikh temple in the city (note: there is no evidence that Sikhs suffer apoplexy when they see poinsettias, but there is plenty of evidence that cultural fascists enjoy using them as a foil to justify their own intolerance).
A homosexual group on the campus of Washington and Jefferson College succeeded in getting the Dean to approve a condom-decorated Christmas tree. A skeleton St. Nick was found hanging from a cross on the grounds of the Loudoun County Courthouse in Leesburg, Virginia.
Most atheists are not intolerant, but rare is the atheist qua activist who is not. Unfortunately, we don't have to look overseas to Communist nations to witness this verity. That they show up at Christmastime, as well as at Easter, is proof that their real hatred is of all things Christian.
Read More from Christian News Wire

Retired Astronomy Teachers Says She Has Discovered The Christmas Star

Christian Post--When former high school astronomy teacher Irene Worthington Baron received 60 astronomy computer programs from NASA for her classroom, she started wondering if she could use them to prove there really was a Christmas star.

Baron, recently retired after almost 40 years of teaching, just released a new ebook, Unraveling the Christmas Star Mystery. In it, she explains how she used ancient astronomy symbols and modern computer programs to uncover events surrounding the birth of Christ.

She told The Christian Post, “I always thought there was one Christmas star and I wanted to find it.” So she started studying the symbols of ancient astronomers.

In her book, Baron claims that her findings reveal there were 10 major, celestial events announcing the birth of Jesus Christ, the last being the position marker over Bethlehem.

She writes, “The sixth significant event of Jesus’ birth announcement occurred on September 1st, 0004 when a spectacular solar eclipse occurred close to Mars, Venus, and Saturn while the Sun was partially eclipsing the slow moving Saturn. The Moon then moved in front of the Sun and totally eclipsed it. To have the Sun eclipsing Saturn and the Moon eclipsing the Sun simultaneously is an extremely rare event at any time, let alone for a dawn sky.”

She told CP that the “Christmas star was, in fact, Saturn.” It was on the other side of the sun during that time and was very bright in the night sky. It was moving right over Bethlehem during a two-week time period.

Read More From Christian Post

Full Video Coverage of Athens Nativity Rally

Nathan Lorick's Speech at Henderson County Nativity Rally

Sunday, December 18, 2011

JMC Live Faith in America: The Nativity Rally in Athens,TX

Jeremy shares about being born in Athens, TX and talks about the Nativity Rally in that town. He challenges America to imitate the Christ-like character God has called us to be.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Henderson County Texas Takes A Stand for Christ with the Nativity Rally

The Call to the Pastors of Henderson County Texas

And here is the Nativity Rally

More from the Rally

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Facebook Gets Into Suicide Prevention

MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — Facebook is making it easier for people who express suicidal thoughts on the social networking site to get help.

A program launching Tuesday enables users to instantly connect with a crisis counselor from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline through Facebook's "chat" messaging system.

If a friend spots a suicidal thought on someone's page, he can report it to Facebook by clicking a link next to the comment. Facebook then sends an email to the person who posted the comment encouraging that user to call the hotline or click a link for a confidential chat.

The service is Facebook's latest move aimed at improving safety on its site.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Internet Evangelism Is Effective

Online evangelism is producing real disciples for Christ, according to a recent study.

Over half of those who made a decision for Jesus over the Internet have subsequently shared their faith with others, Global Media Outreach's study reveals.

Additionally, 34 percent read their Bibles daily and nearly half pray for at least 10 minutes a day.

"These findings are remarkable because they reveal that online evangelism isn’t just an in-the-moment decision, and people continue to grow in their faith after they have indicated a decision,” Global Media Outreach founder and chairman Walt Wilson said in a statement.

The study, called the Christian Growth Index, measured the responses of more than 100,000 people from around the world.

For Wilson, the results of the study indicate "that online evangelism and discipleship is truly measurable and effective."

Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said they shared their faith three times or more and 37 percent said they shared their faith at least once or twice.


Northeast states cut heating aid to poor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mary Power is 92 and worried about surviving another frigid New England winter because deep cuts in federal home heating assistance benefits mean she probably can't afford enough heating oil to stay warm.

She lives in a drafty trailer in Boston's West Roxbury neighborhood and gets by on $11,148 a year in pension and Social Security benefits. Her heating aid help this year will drop from $1,035 to $685. With rising heating oil prices, it probably will cost her more than $3,000 for enough oil to keep warm unless she turns her thermostat down to 60 degrees, as she plans.

"I will just have to crawl into bed with the covers over me and stay there," said Power, a widow who worked as a cashier and waitress until she was 80. "I will do what I have to do."

Thousands of poor people across the Northeast are bracing for a difficult winter with substantially less home heating aid coming from the federal government.

"They're playing Russian roulette with people's lives," said John Drew, who heads Action for Boston Community Development, Inc., which provides aid to low-income residents in Massachusetts.

The issue could flare just as New Hampshire votes in the Republican presidential primary.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said she hopes the candidates will take up the region's heating aid crunch because it underscores how badly the country needs a comprehensive energy policy.

Several Northeast states already have reduced heating aid benefits to families as Congress considers cutting more than $1 billion from last year's $4.7 billion Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program that served nearly 9 million households.

Families in New England, where the winters are long and cold and people rely heavily on costly oil heat, are expected to be especially hard hit. Many poor and elderly people on fixed incomes struggle with rising heating bills that can run into thousands of dollars. That can force them to cut back on other necessities like food or medicine.

"The winter of 2011-12 could be memorable for the misery and suffering of thousands of frigid households," New Hampshire's Concord Monitor newspaper said in an editorial. "Heating oil prices are expected to hit record highs, and federal fuel assistance may reach a record low for recent years."


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

PARENTS be WARNED as New Adult Domains Going "Live" Today

More 100,000 Web sites using the .xxx domain hit the Web on Tuesday morning, heightening debate over the new top-level Internet designation.

The International Corportation for Assigned Names and Numbers approved .xxx in March, and the domain went up for general sale Tuesday.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Ky Church Overturns Ban on Interracial Couples

An eastern Kentucky church under a firestorm of criticism since members voted to bar mixed-race couples from joining the congregation overturned that decision Sunday, saying it welcomes all believers.

Stacy Stepp, pastor of the Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church in Pike County, told The Associated Press that the vote by nine people last week was declared null and void after it was determined that new bylaws can't run contrary to local, state or national laws. He said the proposal was discriminatory, therefore it couldn't be adopted.

Stepp said about 30 people who attended church services voted on a new resolution that welcomes "believers into our fellowship regardless of race, creed or color."


Friday, December 2, 2011

PIKEVILLE, Ky. Pastor Speaks Out on Interracial Church Ban

Stacy Stepp, pastor of Gulnare Free Will Baptist Church, told the Appalachian News-Express in Pikeville he believes state and national Free Will Baptist associations will stand with him and other members of the church who oppose the ban.

Stepp also said he’s seeking another vote on the issue, perhaps as early as Sunday, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. ”We’re going to get it resolved,” Stepp said, going on to claim that he doesn’t believe the congregation is racist.

Read more

Pastors in Houston, TX Face Charges Against Telling "Gays" About Sin. Will Have to Face New Municipal Court Lesbian Run Judiciary

Two veteran street preachers in Houston are facing a bench trial for spreading the biblical message about homosexuality – and other sins – on one of their favorite corners for preaching in Houston.

Senate Approves Bill that Legalizes Sodomy and Bestiality in U.S. Military

( The Senate on Thursday evening voted 93-7 to approve a defense authorization bill that includes a provision which not only repeals the military law on sodomy, it also repeals the military ban on sex with animals--or bestiality.

On Nov. 15, the Senate Armed Services Committee had unanimously approved S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a provision to repeal Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

Article 125 of the UCMJ makes it illegal to engage in both sodomy with humans and sex with animals.

It states: "(a) Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy. Penetration, however slight, is sufficient to complete the offense. (b) Any person found guilty of sodomy shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said the effort to remove sodomy from military law stems from liberal Senate Democrats' and President Obama’s support for removing the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.

“It’s all about using the military to advance this administration’s radical social agenda,” Perkins told “Not only did they overturn Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but they had another problem, and that is, under military law sodomy is illegal, just as adultery is illegal, so they had to remove that prohibition against sodomy.”

Perkins said removing the bestiality provision may have been intentional--or just “collateral damage”

“Well, whether it was inadvertent or not, they have also taken out the provision against bestiality,” he said. “So now, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), there’s nothing there to prosecute bestiality."

Former Army Col. Bob Maginnis said some military lawyers have indicated that bestiality may be prosecutable under another section of the military code of justice – the “catch-all” Article 134 for offenses against “good military order and discipline.”

But don't count on that, he said.

“If we have a soldier who engages in sodomy with an animal – whether a government animal or a non-government animal – is it, in fact, a chargeable offense under the Uniform Code? I think that’s in question,” Maginnis told

“When the reader stops laughing, the reader needs to ask the question whether or not this is in the best interests of the government, in the best interests of the military and the best interests of the country? I think not.”

He added: “Soldiers, unfortunately, like it or not, have engaged in this type of behavior in the past. Will they in the future, if they remove this statute? I don’t know.”

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Joplin, Mo. Residents Donate over 12,000 Operation Christmas Child Shoe Boxes

The Christmas spirit is alive in Joplin, Mo. Residents of the tornado damaged town have seen their share of hardships this year, but it didn’t stop them from participating in Operation Christmas Child. They more than doubled the number of shoe box donations for the organization that sends gift filled shoe boxes to third world countries every Christmas.

OCC Collection Center Coordinator Della Bergen told The Christian Post that the damage from the tornado didn’t stop people from donating. People who had lost everything still came out and donated boxes because OCC is a yearly tradition for them. She said they told her they’re “not going to miss it this year just because of the tornado.”

In total, the town raised 12,520 shoe boxes, compared with last year’s 5,664. Bergen said one of the reasons for the jump in donations stems from the fact that many tornado victims had people they didn’t even know give them things to survive. In turn, this gave them a deeper understanding of what Operation Christmas Child is all about.

Samaritan's Purse’s rescue efforts after the tornado also helped raise awareness for the ministry, and people wanted to give back.

Those who dropped off boxes told Bergen that even though they were just getting back on their feet, they knew their problems were a temporary situation, but for the kids getting shoe boxes, nothing ever changes.

Many new churches signed on this year to help with the shoe boxes. Harmony Heights Baptist Church was hit by the tornado during a service and three of its members were killed. They lost all of their supplies for OCC in the disaster as well.


9yr old kids are attempting suicide study says

Children as young as nine years old are attempting to kill themselves, according to a new U.S. study that probes depression and suicide in youths.

And nearly 40 per cent of those who attempted suicide first tried to kill themselves in elementary or middle school, according to the study published in the November edition of the Journal of Adolescent Health by researchers from the University of Washington.

The data was collected from an ongoing study that asked 883 participants, aged 18 to 19, to discuss their suicidal history. Out of 78 participants who said they have attempted suicide, 38 said they made a single attempt and 40 made multiple attempts.

Those who tried to kill themselves multiple times began their attempts as children.

"Multiple attempters were more likely to have made their first suicide attempt during elementary or middle school compared to single attempters," said the study, titled: An Examination of the Validity of Retrospective Measures of Suicide Attempts in Youth.

Those who tried to kill themselves — especially those who made multiple attempts — reported significantly more depression than their peers. The authors suggest that with students trying to kill themselves at such young ages, suicide prevention programs should focus on elementary and middle school populations as well as high school populations.

The youngest age of a reported suicide attempt in the sample was nine years old. Suicide attempt rates showed a sharp spike when the participants were around 12 years old.

Twice as many girls as boys in the study tried to kill themselves.

"We can say that there is tremendous stress on being a teenager these days or even younger people because of the Internet and the fast pace of society and all sorts of things happening around them with the social interaction," said Grant Wilson, director of Canadian Children's Rights Council.


Kentucky Pike County church bans interracial couples from membership