Christianity Faith Intelwars Terry crews

Wife of actor and former football player Terry Crews shares how God transformed husband’s life after years of porn and infidelity

Terry Crews has been known for a lot of things: movie and TV roles, professional football (albeit a limited career), hosting the hit show “America’s Got Talent,” and even hawking Old Spice.

He’s a popular celebrity with an engaging attitude, a winning personality, and now — thanks to help from above — a character that reflects things that are truly important.

But he hasn’t always been the man he appears to be on the big and small screens. In fact, he was a cheating, porn-addicted husband who nearly left his marriage in tatters.

He’s a different man now, according to his wife of 32 years, Rebecca Crews, an author, musician, song-writer, and actor in her own right.

And that change in Terry’s life is all thanks to “God’s faithfulness,” Rebecca told the Christian Post in a recent interview.

What happened?

Rebecca, who has a new album coming out, told the outlet that one of her best-known songs, “Breathless,” came as a result of God telling her, “Write, Rebecca,” at a time when she wasn’t sure Terry was ever going to come home.

“My husband and I had gone through a really bitter breakup, and we were trying to rebuild our marriage when we got into a verbal fight,” she told the Post. “I’d always had these inner fears of rejection and abandonment, and so often, when we would fight, my husband would grab his things and leave. He would abandon me there with all my feelings. And it would always leave me in this frozen, fearful state.”

God, she said, had some work to do on their marriage — and especially on Terry, who has talked candidly about his infidelity and porn addiction.

“I believe that I should respect, reverence, and allow my husband to lead our family,” Rebecca told the website. “I do not, however, believe I’m supposed to be a doormat. And in many ways, I was. And there was abuse in my family that allowed me to be codependent and abuse in his family that gave him a chip on his shoulder.”

They weren’t finding the answer in the organization of the church, she said, “because sometimes the church can be so accommodating of male failure and expecting the wives to look the other way by forgiving.”

But they did find help when they turned to God, the Bible, and biblical counseling to rebuild their lives and their marriage.

‘Stronger than ever’

Now they are “stronger than ever,” she said.

“Today, I look at my husband, and I always say he’s a better man than me,” Rebecca shared with the Post. “He took hold of the Word of God, and he took hold of the Scriptures, and he just ran with all his might.”

Terry told God, “I don’t want to be like this anymore,” she said. “And he amazes me every day. He really is the kinder, gentler version of Terry Crews because he let God do a work in his life.”

Rebecca admits that they’re not perfect, but she loves their relationship now: “It’s free from fear.”

(H/T: PureFlix Insider)

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‘That’s a terrifying question’:  Kirk Cameron says Gen Z can save the world — or destroy it

Kirk Cameron, star of ABC’s classic hit show “Growing Pains” and feature films including “Left Behind,” “Fireproof,” and now the host of the American Campfire Revival, joined Dave Rubin on “The Rubin Report” to talk about the dangers of being a child star, whether Gen Z will save America or destroy it, and how faith might be able to help us bridge the political divide.

Kirk shared why he thinks there is a growing desire to incorporate more faith and values into America’s arts and entertainment. He said he sees “passion and energy to change the world” in Generation Z, and emphasized the importance of older generations teaching and steering younger generations in positive directions to inspire them.

“I have kids in the world and I think to myself, ‘What’s this place going to be like in 20 years?'” Kirk told Dave. “That’s a terrifying question when I think about where we’re headed right now — politically, economically, morally, spiritually.”

Watch the video clip below to hear more from Kirk Cameron:

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Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered to pay $1.35 million to LA-area church over coronavirus lockdowns

California Gov. Gavin Newsom was ordered to pay a $1.35 million settlement to a Los Angeles-area church following a decision by a federal judge. The ruling in favor of a Pasadena church is a rebuke of Newsom’s draconian restrictions on in-person religious worship during the coronavirus pandemic.

In the settlement, U.S. District Court Judge Jesus G. Bernal ordered Newsom to cover the legal expenses of Liberty Counsel, a Christian legal organization that filed the lawsuit on behalf of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry against the Democratic governor of California.

Newsom is permanently prohibited from “issuing or enforcing regulations in connection with the COVID-19 State of Emergency declared on March 4, 2020 that impose any capacity or numerical restrictions on religious worship services and gatherings at places of worship,” as long as COVID-19 infections of minors does not rise 100% statewide or 200% in a county with at least 10 coronavirus hospitalizations, or as long as ICU hospital bed capacity doesn’t fall below 20%, or statewide daily case rates for coronavirus does not rise above 25 cases per 100,000.

“Under the settlement, California may no longer impose discriminatory restrictions upon houses of worship,” Liberty Counsel said in a news release. “This is the first state-wide permanent injunction in the country against COVID restrictions on churches and places of worship. Under the agreed state-wide permanent injunction, all California churches may hold worship without discriminatory restrictions.”

Liberty Counsel argued that Newsom implemented “discriminatory restrictions” against houses of worship, but was much more lenient against “similar non-religious” activities and gatherings, such as grocery stores and transportation.

“He is the worst governor in America” for religious freedom, said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, according to the Washington Examiner. “The church stayed open [during the lockdown], and the pastor and parishioners were threatened with daily criminal charges that were up to a year in prison.

“Gov. Newsom’s COVID restrictions intentionally discriminated against churches while providing preferential treatment to many secular businesses and gatherings,” Staver continued. “What’s important is this ruling is permanent. He cannot ever do this again.”

“After nearly a yearlong battle defending our religious freedoms, our lawsuit has reached a permanent settlement in our favor,” the Rev. Ché Ahn, founder of Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry, said in a statement, according to the Patch. “I am thrilled to see the complete reversal of the last discriminatory restrictions against churches in California.”

“Gov. Newsom has always put the health and well-being of Californians first, resulting in the lowest positivity rates in the country and over 35 million shots in arms — more than any other state,” Newsom’s office said in a statement to Newsweek. “This settlement resolves this case while providing clarity and certainty to the public around the public health standards applicable to places of worship following recent rulings by the US Supreme Court.”

The Harvest Rock Church initially filed a lawsuit against California in July when lockdown restrictions were implemented.

The settlement follows Supreme Court rulings against stringent pandemic lockdowns against religious freedoms.

In April, the Supreme Court ruled against Newsom’s strict regulations against religious services. In the 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court proclaimed that California’s restrictions prohibiting three or more households from gathering indoors are likely unconstitutional because the same regulations do not apply to secular activities.

“California treats some comparable secular activities more favorably than at-home religious exercise, permitting hair salons, retail stores, personal care services, movie theaters, private suites at sporting events and concerts, and indoor restaurants to bring together more than three households at a time,” the majority opinion declared.

In December, the high court ruled against Newsom’s restrictions on indoor religious services during the coronavirus pandemic.

In November, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for enacting stricter guidelines against places of worship than non-religious activities.

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Public HS principal to valedictorian: Mentioning your Christian faith in graduation speech is ‘not appropriate.’ But valedictorian is fighting back.

A Michigan public high school principal is getting called out by a legal firm after telling one of the valedictorians that mentioning her Christian faith in her graduation speech is “not appropriate.”

What are the details?

According to First Liberty, one section of the speech Elizabeth Turner prepared for Hillsdale High School’s graduation ceremony next Thursday noted that “for me, my future hope is found in my relationship with Christ. By trusting in him and choosing to live a life dedicated to bringing his kingdom glory, I can be confident that I am living a life with purpose and meaning. My identity is found by what God says and who I want to become is laid out in scripture.”

The legal firm said the school’s principal, Amy Goldsmith, reacted by highlighting that paragraph, along with a second, and telling Turner that “you are representing the school in the speech, not using the podium as your public forum. We need to be mindful about the inclusion of religious aspects. These are your strong beliefs, but they are not appropriate for a speech in a school public setting. I know this will frustrate you, but we have to be mindful of it.”

Image source: First Liberty

What happened next?

Apparently Turner got in touch with First Liberty, because the law firm said it sent a letter to Goldsmith informing her that she’s “violating federal law, which permits private religious speech at school events, and demanding that she allow Elizabeth to reference her faith.”

First Liberty also said that student graduation speeches constitute private speech, not government speech, and private speech is not subject to the Establishment Clause. The law firm added that Turner’s statements “do not transform into government speech simply because they are delivered in a public setting or to a public audience.”

The letter concludes by requesting that Goldsmith “allow Elizabeth Turner to express her private religious beliefs at the graduation ceremony on June 6, 2021. Please confirm that you agree to our request by Friday, May 28, 2021 at 5PM.”

Anything else?

According to another document from First Liberty, Turner emailed Goldsmith regarding her requested changes and said “unfortunately I don’t think I would be able to deliver a genuine speech under those circumstances. I don’t agree that we should avoid the topic of tragedy and death because that is part of everyone’s future. I understand what you are saying, but for me, this is a time for my peers and I to elevate our lives and to choose how we want to live since we’re not promised tomorrow, and I don’t want to write a speech that won’t be meaningful just to check off the box. I believe it is celebratory to call people to a life of purpose and meaning and a call to action to live a life well. For me, my personal future relies on my faith, and I also want the freedom to be able to address that in my speech if the opportunity arises.”

Fox News reported that Goldsmith did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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Skillet frontman John Cooper warns critical race theory and woke ideology is sparking a civil war in American churches

John Cooper, frontman for the Christian rock band Skillet, issued a dire warning about the damaging effects of critical race theory and woke ideologies have on Christians. Cooper says far-left ideologies are sparking a civil war in the American church.

Cooper noticed that social justice started seeping into the church around 2012, which confused the Christian rocker.

“I knew that I wanted to be a light to the world and I want[ed] to share the Gospel of Christ,” Cooper told Fox News. “And I believe a part of that is loving people, and helping the poor, and so on and so forth, but there were things about the social justice movement that gave me a lot of red flags and I didn’t quite understand what was happening. That is when I began to really delve into culture, philosophy, and those types of things.”

“I think that we had our first fully educated adult group that was totally indoctrinated in academia, into woke ideology, into social justice, into critical race theory, into all of these things – and they basically imported the secular definitions of these words into Christianity,” Cooper said. “So, people like myself and most normal people … your average person going to church didn’t realize that we were talking about two different things.”

Cooper explained that progressives alter the language and definitions of words, such as “anti-racism.”

“What kind of Christian isn’t against racism? I mean, that would be a very strange thing to not be against racism,” the Skillet lead singer said. “But I need to know what you mean when you say [you oppose racism] so that I know what I am marching for or what I am standing up for … Can we have a definition of terms? That would be really nice.”

“They were going along with the terminology without understanding what they were going into, and now I think that’s becoming very clear,” Cooper said of the woke language. “We’re having a bit of a church split because a lot of people really believe one way and a lot of people believe another way. I think we’re seeing a civil war in the American church – over social justice.”

“Critical race theory has become this bogeyman term and some people get really mad when you bring [it] up,” he continued. “So, let’s not say what critical race theory is. Let me just say what it does … CRT is responsible for a new Christian book … that is a book of prayers, including a prayer that says ‘God please help me to hate white people.'”

“A conclusion of CRT is that … majority-white churches that don’t have black leadership are racist,” Cooper said, explaining the complexities of critical race theory, and the hypocrisy of the ideology. “But if they do have black leadership, they may be racist because they’re tokenizing blacks. But if they have a black man that they believe is gifted, and they want to send him to a Bible college – after that man gets done with Bible college, if he comes back to the white-majority church and the white-majority church keeps him for their own, then they could be guilty of racism for holding talent in the white community and not sending it out to the black community. But if that black man comes back afterwards, and they send him back to the black community, it’s proof of racism because they don’t want to be under black leadership.”

As another example of CRT, Cooper cited when left-wing author Ibram Kendi, author of the book “How to Be An Antiracist,” said that Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett adopted two black children to shield her from accusations of being a racist.

The Christian rocker noted that just 10 years ago, Americans rarely talked about skin color, but “we talk about it all of the time now.”

“It has made everything in life seen through a monocausality of the color of your skin,” he said in the interview. “It’s those kinds of things that I see as a completely separate worldview than Christianity. But it is being imported into the Bible, and then people are using Bible scriptures along with that worldview – but they don’t actually go together. They’re kind of imposing a wrong worldview with the words of Christ. So, now the words of Christ don’t mean the same thing as they historically have meant.”

He said that his “woke friends” question his Christian faith if he doesn’t march for social injustices because they believe it’s a “gospel issue.”

Cooper called out Black Lives Matter for wanting to “destroy the nuclear family – that’s the opposite of what God has said.”

The musician also warned against having the “government take care of more people.”

“Well, that’s the opposite of what God says. It’s the parents’ job to govern the children,” he said. “That is your mandate from God, and you can’t buck against the design of God. You buck against the design of God, it bucks back.”

Cooper, who is the author of “Awake & Alive to Truth,” sees many of the social justice marches and protests as “performative,” and aren’t providing real solutions. Instead of marching, Cooper advises, “If you apply the wisdom of Proverbs to your life, you will thrive, and there is nothing that can stop you from flourishing because you are acting within the design of God.”

The rock star admitted, “American church did not step up as I believe she should have” in regards to condemning racism in the past.

“And we look back at that and say, ‘Man the church missed some big opportunities to be a light to the world – to have stood up during Jim Crow laws and during redlining, and during all of these various things,'” Cooper stated. “Because of that, we don’t want to be on the wrong side – we don’t want to be on the wrong side of history, and so people I think were kind of going along with a lot of the terminology.”

Cooper lamented that it is really hard to have honest conversations these days because “people are ready to fight,” but he counters the negativity by praying. “I’m not suggesting I always do a good job of this – but I always do pray that I could be full of the spirit of God in order to be gracious toward someone that I disagree with,” he said.

You can read the entire John Cooper interview on Fox News.

Asian attacks Faith Intelwars New york city crime

Asian woman beaten during infamous violent NYC attack speaks out, says she forgives and is praying for her attacker

The elderly Asian woman at the center of a now-infamous and brutal attack in March in New York City is breaking her silence. Although she’s not fully healed, she wants the world to know that she has forgiven her attacker — and that she’s praying for him.

What’s the background?

On March 29, 65-year-old Vilma Kari found herself the victim of a violent attack outside an apartment building on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The video of the attack, which went viral, showed the attacker shoving Kari to the ground, kicking her stomach, and stomping on her. He also reportedly shouted anti-Asian slurs at her and told her, “F*** you, you don’t belong here.”

Also shown in the video were two doormen at the building where the attack occurred who witnessed the attack but did not intervene to protect the victim. In fact, one of the employees could be seen closing the door while the elderly woman lay on the ground following the beating and as the suspect ran off.

The two doormen were suspended shortly after the video was made public. The company fired the pair just days later.

The suspect, Brandon Elliot, who was convicted of murdering his own mother in 2002 and had been on lifetime parole after being released from prison on 2019, has a history of mental illness and was living at a homeless shelter a few blocks from the scene of the attack, Newsweek reported.

What is the victim saying now?

Kari sat down for an interview with ABC News’ Juju Chang, a portion of which was shared on “Good Morning America” Thursday. She told Chang that she was on her way to church when the attack happened — and now, nearly two months later, she’s recovering and has something to say about the man who beat her.

Image source: ABC News video screenshot

Cops said Kari suffered a broken pelvis and head injuries. Kari, who is still using a walker, said she’s on the mend, but she’s not fully recovered yet.

“Physically, I am healing well but mentally, emotionally, I’m not there yet,” she told Chang.

But she had an even bigger message to share: She’s praying for Elliot.

“My attacker, I prayed for him, because I felt he needed prayer,” Kari said.

Chang pressed her on that, wondering why she would pray for her attacker.

“Because that’s the only thing I could do for him in the hope that maybe someday he reforms or he finds the right medicine, whatever [is] needed,” she answered.

“Vilma, guys, is literally fighting hate with love,” Chang concluded.

Beneil dariush Beneil dariush charity Beneil dariush marxism Beneil dariush religion Christianity Elon Musk Faith Intelwars Marxist ideology ufc Ufc 262

UFC fighter dedicates huge win to victims of Marxist ideologies

UFC fighter Beneil Dariush pulled off an impressive upset at Ultimate Fighting Championship 262 on Saturday night. Dariush, ranked No. 7 in the lightweight category, defeated No. 5 contender Tony Ferguson at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Following Dariush’s hard-fought victory over Ferguson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), the Iranian-American mixed martial arts fighter had a message for Elon Musk and condemned Marxism.

Following Dariush’s win, which was his seventh in a row, the 32-year-old MMA fighter thanked Jesus Christ and dedicated the tremendous victory to victims of Marxist ideologies.

“First things first, I want to thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ, that’s number one,” Dariush told UFC color commentator Joe Rogan in a post-fight interview inside the octagon.

“Number two, I want to dedicate this fight to all the people who’ve been hurt by Marxist ideologies,” Dariush proclaimed. “There are millions of you.”

“It’s just a fight, I know it’s not much, but I want you to know that I love you,” the victorious fighter continued. “And I understand the pain…I don’t completely understand, but I love you. I understand your pain.”

Then, on a lighter note, Dariush jokingly expressed his frustrations with Elon Musk for his electric car company not delivering a Tesla automobile to him after waiting for six months.

“Joe, I want to call out your buddy Elon. Elon Musk! Where is my wife’s car, bro? I have been waiting for six months,” Dariush said with a smirk. “I’m having a baby. I need a big car; I need to protect my daughter. Let’s go, Elon, get me my car.”

UFC 262: Beneil Dariush Octagon Interview

Dariush, who is of Assyrian heritage, lived on a farm in Iran until he was 9 years old, then his parents moved him to the United States. Dariush began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu in 2007, earning his black belt in only five years, and made his UFC debut in 2014.

Dariush is a devout Christian, and regularly talks about his faith on his Instagram page.

Dariush has done mission work in Haiti, and used his own money to start an orphanage in the poverty-stricken Caribbean country.

Dariush has also helped charities around the world, including a campaign to assist Iraqis devastated by ISIS by helping them move to Brazil as refugees.

Dariush visited the Philippines, where he fed the homeless and spent time at orphanages that protect children from being trafficked.

Church Covid restrictions Faith Intelwars

Woman details triumphant return to in-person church after a year of COVID-19 restrictions: ‘I realized how much I probably took for granted’

A parishioner has made headlines after detailing her experience with in-person church services more than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic stopped much of America in its everyday tracks.

What are the details?

Bea L. Hines shared her experience for an article published in the Miami Herald on Friday.

She wrote, “There’s just something special about being in the House of God on the Lord’s day.”

Hines said that she was visiting New Orleans, Louisiana, last week with her goddaughter, her husband — a minister — and their family.

Hines said that the day was also especially important to her because it was Mother’s Day and the first time she’d attended in-person services at a church since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Just walking into the sanctuary after so many days of virtual church gave me such a joyful feeling,” Hines wrote. “Although I was many miles away from my own church, I felt at home.”

Hines said that her home church in the Liberty City neighborhood in Miami has held only virtual services since the pandemic sickened and killed millions of people across the globe.

Hines added that when she entered the New Orleans church, she could “feel the loving warmth” that “even the masks could not conceal.”

“Just sitting in a pew inside a sanctuary, smiling at other worshipers behind my mask, raising my hands in praises to God, and singing the beautiful songs of Zion gave me a warm, happy feeling,” she wrote. “I was home.”

Hines said that in the moment, she immediately recalled the importance of church and God’s people gathering together in His house.

“As I prayed and joined in the singing, I realized how much I probably took for granted about being assembled in the house of the Lord with my brothers and sisters for worship,” she admitted. “After all, attending church is what I do. It’s what I have been doing for all my life, even before I sought the Lord for a personal relationship with Him.”

Hines said that Christians — including her — need to lean into their faith when it comes to times of trials and tribulation — and especially during the COVID-19 crisis.

“COVID-19 is a killer,” she wrote. “But it has also been a time of learning. We learned new ways to do things, to be creative. We had to wear masks, so we made them beautiful and stylish. When we could not congregate in our sanctuaries, some churches erected canopies in their parking lots, creating sanctuaries without walls, so their parishioners could worship while safely social distancing.”

Hines noted that attending church last week for her first time in more than a year was “almost like old times again.”

“The sweet fellowship among parishioners, the taking of Holy Communion and listening as [the minister] preached about the virtues of motherhood, had me on cloud nine,” she wrote. “I could hardly contain myself.”

She concluded, “It felt so good to be able to raise my hands in praises to the Lord, thanking Him for allowing me to set my feet inside His house once more. And while everyone wore a mask and elbow bumped each other, it was still special. We were in the sanctuary of the Lord, basking in His glory.”

Faith Gene Simmons Intelwars kiss tim tebow

KISS frontman Gene Simmons takes on Tim Tebow critics who attack player’s faith

Former NFL quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, well known for his devotion to his faith and willingness to share his beliefs, received serious props this week from a big name in one of the most secular sectors of American culture.

KISS frontman Gene Simmons took to social media to declare what a “shame” it is that Tebow’s critics would stoop so low and mock the man for holding to his Christian convictions.

What happened?

Tebow has made headlines over the last several days as reports have swirled that the all-star college quarterback who wasn’t able to make a long-term career at the signal-calling post in the NFL would likely be making a return to the league this year — as a tight end. The move comes after a sub-par stint in professional baseball’s minor leagues.

The former Florida Gator’s likely return to the professional ranks as a Jacksonville Jaguar under the command of former Gators coach Urban Meyer — Tebow’s college career mentor and current-day neighbor — has not been without controversy.

Tebow, whose Christian faith has been his most identifying characteristic, was often the butt of over the top mockery, anti-faith jokes, and censorship. For example:

  • Liberal groups pressured CBS to cancel his pro-life Super Bowl ad.
  • A minor league baseball team in Charleston, South Carolina, was forced to apologize after mocked Tebow’s faith during a three-game series.
  • HBO host John Oliver once joked that if he had a gun with two bullets he would shoot Tim Tebow before Osama bin Laden.
  • Twitter censored his Bible message about relying on God during difficult times.

Football analyst and former NFL and college star Randy Cross felt the media’s treatment of Tebow was so inappropriate that while working for CBS Sports he called out his fellow members of the press for “root[ing] against him because of what he stands for.”

This week, as criticisms of Tebow began to make the rounds again, the rocker known as “The Demon” went on defense for America’s best-known Christian athlete … for standing up for his faith.

“I support @TimTebow,” Simmons tweeted Tuesday evening. “He was widely criticized and made fun of, simply because he is a man of faith, who believed in his Christian values. Shame on the NFL and the rest of the world for stooping so low.”

Anything else?

Criticism of Tebow’s likely return to the NFL also featured those who wanted to know why he should get another shot in the NFL while no team would sign QB-turned-activist Colin Kaepernick. To these critics it was clear that race was the only plausible explanation.

But Tebow’s former Gator teammate and retired NFL linebacker Brandon Spikes was having none of it. He took to Twitter to call out the haters and tell them to “stop pulling this race bulls**t!”

He urged fans to understand that Tebow would be good for the Jaguars — or any team, for that matter — tweeting, “Tim Tebow will be an inspiration in any locker room trust me i know.”

(H/T: Faithwire)

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Deace: Don Lemon may have been woefully wrong in his conclusions about God, but at least he was talking theology instead of woke-ology

Augustine. Aquinas.

Luther. Calvin.

Don Lemon.

Yeah, I know, but stick with me here.

Because for all the CNN host’s supreme ridiculousness, he actually landed on the target of all targets earlier this week when, on “The View,” of all places, he addressed the character of God and how it applies to life in this world.

Doesn’t matter if his arrival there was accidental. Doesn’t matter if his conclusions were wrong. Doesn’t even matter if his intentions were malevolent.

Just talking about God and not the latest social justice distraction ultimately served to let the lion out of its cage. Theology, not woke-ology, was front and center. And since it is theology that long held the privilege of being known as the mother of the sciences in the canon of Western civilization, it means any conversation that includes it as its plumb line for debate has a chance at arriving at something truly worthy — if not flat-out divine.

So many of our modern conversations have zero chance at such an outcome because they pit the inspirational and intellectual equivalent of the lint in our navel against fingernails on the chalkboard. From stem to stern, there is simply no “there” there. Yet when Don Lemon ineptly addressed the Catholic Church’s obvious and predictable refusal to bless same-sex relationships, my only wish was that he had the stamina to keep his interest parked there indefinitely.

Here’s what Lemon said: “If you believe in something that hurts another person or that does not give someone the same rights or freedoms, not necessarily under the Constitution, because this is under God, I think that that’s wrong. And I think that the Catholic Church and many other churches really need to re-examine themselves and their teachings, because that is not what God is about. God is not about hindering people or even judging people.”

Total nonsense? You betcha. But not only is God part of the conversation, assertions are being made about Him as if they not only matter, but are in fact fundamental to who we are as a people on this earth.

How often does progressivism willingly and enthusiastically give you that opening? Well, when the very existence of progressivism has as one of its chief aims to make the answer to that question “never,” you should understand why I don’t want to scare Lemon away. This is the cancel culture, after all.

Like I said earlier, I may not fully trust Lemon’s motivations for choosing this discussion, but I know with certainty that as long as I can keep him engaged there, I have a shot at saving civilization through something other than bloodshed. If you won’t even acknowledge God’s place in the world, how can you ever kneel before his will and purpose?

Not so coincidentally, the nation of Denmark now appears to be addressing the cost of ignoring the things of God for far too long. Sure, it’s not saying that out loud, but when its government announced it will limit the number of residents with “non-Western origin” in neighborhoods to a maximum of 30% within 10 years in order to “reduce the risk of religious and cultural parallel societies,” it may as well have been saying that “all of our secular utopian fantasies have hit a dead end.”

So Denmark acted. Either it addresses reality as it really is and not as it wishes it to be, as determined through hard experience, or it will die. And so it is with Don Lemon, just as it is with each and every one of us.

God exists and He has a plan for us. Without that knowledge, we are lost. So God bless you, Don, for finally picking up a map for a change.

Now let me further help you in your cause, because you are unfortunately holding it upside down.

Faith Intelwars Section 230

Federal appeals court tells ‘ex-gay’ pastor he can’t sue Vimeo for deleting his ministry’s videos, says company is covered by Section 230

James Domen, the pastor of Church United in Southern California and a self-described “former homosexual,” lost his appeal last week seeking to sue Vimeo after the video platform removed his and his church’s videos for promoting “sexual orientation change efforts,” or SOCE, in December 2018.

According to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, Vimeo is protected by Section 230, which offers tech companies a way to avoid liability for content that appears on their websites.

What happened?

Domen, a former practicing homosexual who chose to leave the lifestyle and enter ministry and now has a wife and kids, created a Vimeo account in October 2016 promoting his ministry, the Christian Post reported. Domen and his church posted nearly 100 videos to the account, including “videos addressing sexual orientation as it relates to religion,” over the next two years.

Domen said the videos were part of Church United’s work to challenge the state’s efforts to expand its ban on SOCE to include pastoral counseling, the Post said.

That did not sit well with Vimeo, which alleged that Domen’s account violated the platform’s content rules banning SOCE — or what critics of “ex-gay” ministries call “conversion therapy.”

Vimeo warmed the pastor and his church via email in November 2018 that “a moderator had marked the Church United account for review. The e-mail explained, ‘Vimeo does not allow videos that promote [SOCE],'” the appellate court said.

The company reportedly told Church United to remove the problematic videos within 24 hours. If they did not, Vimeo said it would do it for them — or delete the account entirely.

When Domen’s ministry chose not to remove the videos, Vimeo elected to delete the account on Dec. 6, 2018, saying, “Vimeo does not allow videos that harass, incite hatred, or include discriminatory or defamatory speech,” the Christian Post said.

Domen and his church sued Vimeo in response, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Stewart Aaron ruled against them in January 2020.

In the appellate court ruling last week, the court said Domen and Church United could not sue Vimeo “due to the company’s immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act,” according to the Post.

In her opinion for the Second Circuit, Judge Rosemary S. Pooler wrote that Vimeo’s actions and policy “fell within the confines of the good-faith content policing immunity that the CDA provides to interactive computer services.”

This story has been updated.

Catholic Faith Intelwars LGBT marriage Pope Francis Same-sex marriage

‘The cool pope isn’t so cool after all’: Pope Francis says church won’t bless same-sex unions, calls homosexuality a sin

The Vatican published a document Monday saying the Catholic Church would not bless same-sex unions, a statement that likely let down a number of Catholics who identify as LGBT.

Now Pope Francis, whom progressive outlets like Rolling Stone have called the “cool pope,” is being seen as not so cool after all for not being woke enough to betray thousands of years of Christian teaching.

What did the pope say?

In a response to the question to the Holy See of “Does the Church have the power to give the blessing to unions of persons of the same sex?” the Vatican responded, “Negative.”

The pope-approved statement called homosexuality a choice and said God “does not and cannot bless sin,” which means the church, too, cannot bless sin.

Blessings belong to the category of the sacramentals, whereby the Church “calls us to praise God, encourages us to implore his protection, and exhorts us to seek his mercy by our holiness of life.” In addition, they “have been established as a kind of imitation of the sacraments, blessings are signs above all of spiritual effects that are achieved through the Church’s intercession.”

Consequently, in order to conform with the nature of sacramentals, when a blessing is invoked on particular human relationships, in addition to the right intention of those who participate, it is necessary that what is blessed be objectively and positively ordered to receive and express grace, according to the designs of God inscribed in creation, and fully revealed by Christ the Lord. Therefore, only those realities which are in themselves ordered to serve those ends are congruent with the essence of the blessing imparted by the Church.

For this reason, it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex. The presence in such relationships of positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated, cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the Creator’s plan.

Furthermore, since blessings on persons are in relationship with the sacraments, the blessing of homosexual unions cannot be considered licit. This is because they would constitute a certain imitation or analogue of the nuptial blessing invoked on the man and woman united in the sacrament of Matrimony, while in fact “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”

No longer a ‘cool pope’

Rolling Stone, the leftist progressive entertainment magazine, reported this story on its website under the banner headline “Guess the Cool Pope Isn’t So Cool After All.”

Pope Francis has gained a reputation among left-wing — many non-religious or non-Catholic — fans for being woke on issues near and dear to the left’s heart (except, much to their lament, abortion). For example:

  • The pope said last year that the coronavirus is “nature’s response” to man’s mistreatment of the environment.
  • Last fall, the pontiff denounced trickle-down economics and private property and advocated for the redistribution of wealth in a papal encyclical.
  • He used his 2020 Easter address to advocate for a socialist “universal basic wage.”
  • Francis was on record saying he was considering adding “ecological sin” to the church’s official teachings in order to take on “sin against ecology … against our common home.”
  • A couple years ago, there was discussion that the pope may allow married men to become ordained priests and thereby bring an end to celibacy.
  • In December 2018, rumors swirled that the pope was considering the approval of a significant edit to the Lord’s Prayer.
  • He added environmentalism to the church’s seven works of mercy in 2016.
  • In October, the pope appeared to endorse same-sex civil unions in a documentary in which he discussed pastoral care for those who identify as LGBT. (The Vatican said the comments were taken out of context.)
  • Last November, he praised NBA players for their racial justice protests.

So it’s no wonder that the reporters and editors at Rolling Stone were taken aback by the pope daring to uphold 2,000 years of Christian teaching by calling homosexuality a sin and standing for traditional marriage.

In fact, the rag pointed out that it’s got to be tough for the pope to be cool when he’s running a backwards, two-millennia-old faith organization:

Rightly or wrongly, Pope Francis has long enjoyed the reputation as the “cool pope,” a view that has been bolstered by, among other things, his public statements in support of the theory of evolution and a 2014 profile in the pages of this magazine. A documentary released last fall even appeared to suggest his emerging support for same-sex pairings.

As it turns out, however, it’s pretty difficult to be hip and woke and with-it if you’re the face of a retrograde thousands-year-old religious institution, as the Vatican clarified in a statement on Monday that it would not bless same-sex unions on the grounds that God “does not and cannot bless sin.”

The pope’s critics, naturally, said he was somehow hypocritical for calling homosexuality a sin while numerous priests stand accused of pedophilia — a scandal the pope has condemned.

Christianity Church Faith Intelwars Woke Woke culture

Famed pastor condemns ‘woke’ culture that is creeping into evangelical churches: ‘Deadly’ for the Gospel

Atlanta pastor Michael Youssef shared a powerful warning this week to evangelical churches to watch out for “woke” pastors who hide from telling the hard truths, as well as far-left ideology that is making its way to the pulpit.

The insidious theology that is creeping into the church is “deadly as far as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is concerned,” he told the Christian Post in an interview reported Wednesday.

He has seen this before

Youssef, 72, who serves as pastor of the Church of The Apostles in Atlanta with about 3,000 members, told the outlet that he remembers watching the Episcopal Church collapse from the inside in the ’80s as an Episcopal priest. He said the denomination followed the culture away from Christian principles and moved toward secularism — a move made evident with its vote to approve same-sex marriage.

“Those same battles that I fought in the mainline denominations are now invading the evangelical churches,” Youssef said. “It’s the same arguments, the same lingo, and the same words repeating themselves with such precision I am deeply, deeply concerned.”

Youssef, the Christian Post said, is concerned that pastors are “falling into the trap” of woke cultured are doing so for a couple reasons: first, it’s “popular,” and second, it “appeals to the flesh.”

“Bowing to woke culture allows you to avoid rejection by culture and society,” Youssef said. “It’s a very, very popular message that is now being preached from many evangelical pulpits; traditionally Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching churches. We have gone so far that it just grieves me to the point that I literally sometimes just weep tears.”

Pulpit to culture

And what gets pushed from the pulpit will infect the congregation, and what infects the congregation will impact the culture.

“I’ve always believed, as goes the pulpit, so goes the pew. As goes the pew, so goes the culture,” he added. “As a pastor, I put the full blame on us, right in our laps, because we want to be liked, loved, and followed on social media by millions of people. Pastors are the culprits. We need to be about Jesus, not about being liked, because that is deadly as far as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is concerned.”

Now he’s doing what he can to influence younger pastors and ministry leaders to stick to Christian principles and not yield to the spirit of the age, notably the infamous “Marxist” Critical Race Theory that categorizes everything by racial victim groupings.

“Young pastors must realize that this is a deception. It’s very subtle and very clever, but it’s a deception nonetheless,” Youssef told the Christian Post. “And that is the burden that God laid on my heart to such a point I just couldn’t sleep. I had to address it. I believe people are in a state of confusion and need a clear word from Scripture.”

Critical Race Theory is “a very Marxist ideology that people are taking very seriously,” he added. “The idea of the oppressed and the oppressors is not that simple. Now we have private Christian schools here in Atlanta where white children are apologizing to black kids. Apologizing for what? They are innocent; they haven’t done anything. It’s crazy; it’s just going insane.”

As long as a pastor bows to moral relativism in an attempt not to “offend” anyone, Youssef warned, his church will fail to effectively minister to future generations. Instead of cowing to culture, he said, the Church needs to “invade” areas of society that Christians fled years ago.

“We must take charge,” Youssef encouraged. “Christians have abandoned so many areas of society, from media and the classroom. Instead of withdrawing, we need to go and invade these areas and take them for Christ and not be afraid.”

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Fewer churches hold in-person services now than at end of last summer, and attendance is way down for those that are open

A new poll from Lifeway Research revealed that though most Protestant churches have continued to meet despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the share of churches meeting now is down significantly from the end of last summer.

According to Lifeway, 87% of Protestant pastors said their churches were meeting in person last September. That number dropped 11 points to 76% in January.

Compounding the bad news, churches that are meeting in person have reported markedly lower attendance numbers.

Nearly a third (31%) of pastors told Lifeway that their attendance in January 2021 is less than half of what it was just one year ago.

More than a third of pastors (37%) said their current congregations are between 50% and 70% of their January 2020 sizes.

Another 3 in 10 said their weekly numbers were between 70% and 100% of last year’s numbers.

Just 2% said their churches’ attendance has grown since the start of the pandemic.

The survey reported that 39% of mainline pastors said their churches did not meet in January, while just 12% of evangelical pastors said the same.

Impact on kids

Lifeway’s poll also showed that kids’ lives are being disrupted more than just when it comes to schools being closed. Children’s and student ministries programs have also been heavily impacted, with about half of churches moving to online-only for ministry to kids and teens — or cancelling the ministries altogether.

About one-third (32%) of youth ministry and a quarter (25%) of kids’ ministry programs are conducting all activities in person. Another 25% of youth ministries and 24% of kids’ ministries are doing some activities in person.

More than a fifth (22%) of student programming and a fifth (21%) of children’s programming is happening only online.

A fifth (21%) of churches said they have held no activities — online or in-person — for students. And a third (30%) said the same of kids’ activities.

(H/T: The Christian Post)

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Washington National Cathedral cowers to woke mob, apologizes for letting famed pastor Max Lucado preach. His offense? Holding biblical views on sexuality and marriage.

The Washington National Cathedral took heavy fire for allowing popular evangelical pastor and author Max Lucado to preach at its virtual Sunday service last weekend. Though the church initially defended its decision as part of a move to build bridges, leadership later caved to pressure from left-wing activists and nearly tripped over themselves apologizing for the mistake of allowing Lucado to speak.

Lucado’s offense? He holds biblical Christian views on sexuality and marriage.

He didn’t preach on those topics Sunday — his sermon was about the Holy Spirit, the Christian Post reported — but the fact that he has a history of standing up for traditional biblical values on social issues was enough to have him silenced, the woke mob said.

What happened?

After the Episcopal Church’s Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Paul in the City and the Diocese of Washington invited Lucado to speak at the cathedral in Washington, D.C., LGBT activists were livid.

The reliably liberal denomination known for its left-wing views on marriage and sexuality had betrayed the gay community by inviting a nondenominational evangelical pastor like Lucado who follows traditional Christian teachings on marriage and sexually, and the woke mob couldn’t have that.

So they did what mobs do: sought to intimidate their target into compliance and force their opponent to be silenced.

Activists launched a petition days before Lucado’s sermon demanding that the church rescind its invitation to Lucado, claiming that his “teaching and preaching inflicts active harm on LGBTQ people.”

They accused him of pushing “[f]ear-mongering and dehumanizing messages” and preaching “the kind of dangerous theology that promotes oppression of and violence toward the LGBTQ community.”

According to the petition, “Lucado has inflicted serious harm” and should not be given a platform.

On Feb. 6, the cathedral’s dean, the Rev. Randy Hollerith, sent a response to the petition. Hollerith said that he and the church have long been supporters of “LGBTQ inclusion” and that they “believe the Gospel calls us to nothing short of full embrace and inclusion.” He also added that he understood why the petitioners would be concerned about Lucado’s past statements on sexuality and that it “grieves” him when churches “are used as weapons against God’s LGBTQ children.”

But, he said, there was good reason to invite Lucado: We must find common ground, which comes by peacefully engaging with people we might disagree with.

He wrote:

Let me share why we invited Max to preach. We have to come out of our corners, find common ground where we can, and find ways to live with and see each other as the beloved children of God that we are. We have all grown too accustomed in our silos and echo chambers. In order to start the process of rebuilding, we need to hear from each other.

That does not mean we will always agree. In fact, I don’t agree with Max’s views on LGBTQ issues. We can still hold our convictions and cling to our values in the midst of disagreement. But the work that we cannot ignore is the vitally important task of what Isaiah called “repairing the breach.” That starts, first and foremost, with those with whom we disagree. When we only engage with those with whom we agree on every issue, we find ourselves in a dangerous (and lonely) place. My hope is that all churches and faith communities will find ways to open their doors to perspectives different from their own.

And retired Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, defended the cathedral’s invitation in a video Sunday morning after Lucado’s sermon, saying the church should be a house of prayer for “all the people of God — all — and sometimes that includes we don’t agree with much at all.”

Fallout continued

But that wasn’t enough for Lucado’s critics. They had wanted his sermon canceled, and when it wasn’t, they turned up the outrage and increased their criticism of church leaders, according to a report from the Episcopal News Service.

By Wednesday, the church leaders had had enough and scrambled to offer apologies to the mob for the horrible “mistake” of inviting someone with a record allegedly causing so much pain to speak.

Dean Hollerith blamed his “straight privilege” for failing to understand the “pain” Lucado had caused in the past and the “depth of injury his words have had.”

“I made a mistake and I am sorry,” Hollerith said.

Washington Bishop Mariann Budde echoed the dean’s statements and offered her own mea culpa.

“I would like to apologize for the hurt caused in inviting Max Lucado to preach at Washington National Cathedral,” she wrote. “I have heard from those who were not only wounded by things Max Lucado has said and taught, but equally wounded by the decision to welcome him into the Cathedral’s pulpit.”

Hollerith and Budde announced that they are going to hold a “listening session” on Feb. 21 for anyone who wants to share their LGBT experiences within the church.

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Local congregation in Louisiana raises $125,000 to pay neighbors’ electricity bills

As people continue to struggle in the current pandemic-plagued U.S. economy, members of one New Orleans-area church decided to find a practical way to help their neighbors — they engaged in a campaign to raise money to help pay their neighbors’ electricity bills.

And it was no small effort.

The nondenominational Household of Faith Family Worship Church International, which has three locations in Harvey, Louisiana, just across the Mississippi River from the Crescent City, helped raise $125,000 for the cause, the Christian Post reported.

When asked why the church did this, Dale Barriere, the wife of Senior Pastor Antoine Barriere, told the Post they launched the campaign “because God said so.”

According to the Post, the efforts helped pay bills for customers of energy company Entergy, which partnered with the church to meet residents’ needs.

For Dale Barriere, this was an answer to prayer.

“Our prayer was how can we help those who are hurting and He said $100 towards Entergy bill,” she told the outlet. “Our hope is to encourage the community to never give up and when you think there’s no help, out of the blue help steps in.”

Barriere explained to the Post that the church first raised $50,000, and then Entergy matched their donation. According the church, members of the congregation and businesses then added another $25,000, bringing the total to $125,000.

People were having trouble paying their bills not just because of higher unemployment in the downturned economy, Entergy said. The company also said that the cold weather, coupled with the pandemic that has forced more people to stay home, has led to higher electricity usage — and therefore higher bills.

“We had colder weather, so people were using heat more. We had an end of holiday period where people were not traveling normally,” Entergy New Orleans CEO David Ellis told “What those point to is higher consumption.”

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Progressive Christian author trips over herself to apologize for inaugural prayer thanking God for ‘giving us this land,’ throws organizers under the bus

Christian author Jen Hatmaker received the opportunity to lead a group of fellow left-wing progressive faith leaders in prayer Thursday at the National Prayer Service, an event held every four years the day after the presidential inauguration to honor and pray for the president and the country.

And now Hatmaker is
mea culpa-ing all over social media for daring to thank God for giving America the land we have — and she’s throwing event organizers under the bus for her troubles.

What did Hatmaker say?

When it came time for her to lead a prayer during the event, which was held virtually for the first time due to the coronavirus concerns, Hatmaker began by saying, “Almighty God, you have given us this good land as our heritage. Make us always remember your generosity and constantly do your will. Bless our land with honest industry and an honorable way of life.”

January 21, 2021: Inaugural Prayer Service at Washington National Cathedral (OFFICIAL VERSION)

And it was that opening sentence thanking God for America’s land that led to Hatmaker’s apology.

She took to Facebook Thursday, shortly after the event, to reveal just how sorry she was for the line that made her “stomach hurt all day.”

And she really,
really wanted people to know that she did not write the line she uttered as part of her prayer. (She also apparently did not read the line beforehand.)

It was those event “organizers” who gave her the naughty words.

“I was proud to offer the final liturgical prayer which was written by the organizers to serve as an anchor,” Hatmaker pointed out.

“I have one regret and thus apology. The very first sentence thanked God for giving us this land as our heritage,” Hatmaker said.

“He didn’t,” she continued. “He didn’t give us this land. We took this land by force and trauma. It wasn’t an innocent divine transaction in which God bestowed an empty continent to colonizers. This is a shiny version of our actual history. If God gave this land to anyone, it was to the Native community who always lived here.

“That line. I knew it as soon as I said it,” she added. “And I panicked and froze and then just kept going. I am so sorry, community. Primarily sorry to my Native friends. It MATTERS to me that we reckon with our history of white supremacy and the lies we surrounded it with, and I am filled with regret that I offered yet another hazy, exceptional rendition of the origin story of colonization. Ugh.”

How would she have opened the prayer had she been the one to write it?

In the most predictable way possible: “God, may we continue to be a people who reckon with our violent history, repent from the unjust systems we built, denounce white supremacy in all its forms past and present, and continue to work together to form a more perfect union.”

(H/T: The Christian Post)

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Elderly man with COVID bludgeoned to death by roommate for praying

An elderly California man dealing with COVID-19 was bludgeoned to death by a roommate for praying.

An 82-year-old Latino man was being treated for coronavirus at the Antelope Valley Hospital in Lancaster in Southern California. The elderly man was sharing the hospital room with a 37-year-old man who was also diagnosed with COVID-19.

The older hospital patient “leaned on his Catholic faith and began to pray,” according to
The Washington Post. The BBC reported, “Jesse Martinez became upset when the 82-year-old man sharing his hospital room started praying, according to Los Angeles police.”

Martinez allegedly used an oxygen tank to beat to death the elderly man in his hospital bed on Dec. 17, at approximately 9:45 a.m. The victim died the following day.

“He then struck the victim with an oxygen tank,” according to the
statement from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau.

The two men did not know each other before being assigned to the same hospital room, and authorities did not know why Martinez murdered the man for praying.

Martinez was arrested and charged with murder, a hate crime enhancement, and elder abuse. His bail is set at $1 million. He is being held at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility. Martinez is scheduled to appear in Antelope Valley Court on Dec. 28.

The investigation is on-going.

Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris (R) was ”
shocked and saddened” to hear about the man’s death, and said in a statement, “These families were already experiencing a hardship and now this — it’s senseless.”

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Amid Christmas — and COVID — the most important lesson remains: Jesus shows up

Like many other people across the planet, I’ve had my ups and downs this year amid the COVID-19 crisis.

A natural quasi-hermit, I had no issue remaining inside my home under lock and key. After all, being under semi-lockdown was my normal state of existence.

However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t admit that there were times where I wished things were back to “normal,” whatever “normal” might have been for that particular instance: Sitting on a jammed beach blanket watching fireworks on the Fourth of July as the salt and sand played havoc with my hair, which sports more silver stripes this year than ever before; standing in a snaking Starbucks line patiently waiting for my highly anticipated first pumpkin spice latte of the season; queuing up in a long line to take an overcrowded trolley through a wonderland of Christmas lights on a cold night, with my children’s mittened hands securely fastened in my own.

These were a few of my favorite things, and I missed them, but that didn’t mean that there weren’t other events that would take precedence over my personal comforts and joys.

Pestilence, political division, police brutality, and even more marked 2020 with an indelible stain of human desperation.

Though media, politicians, activists, entertainers, and armchair warriors were louder than perhaps ever before, the world, this year, seemed quieter — and more divided — than it’s ever been.

And then came the Great Conjunction.

The Great Conjunction. What a thing to happen this year of all years, right? The alignment of Saturn and Jupiter, appearing as one bright, shining star just days before Christmas — it was too good to be a coincidence, too planned to be serendipity. The Great Conjunction was more kismet than anything else. For many if not all believers, the Great Conjunction was the very Christmas star that appeared more than 2,000 years ago with Jesus’ birth.

“Conjunction” by its very definition is a word to connect clauses or sentences — and what greater a phrase to describe what Jesus Christ himself did for his creation, time and time again: to connect us to our Heavenly Father by coming to Earth and eventually becoming the ultimate sacrifice.

The Great Conjunction in 2020 was more than just a celestial anomaly — it was a message of Jesus’s unfailing, unflinching promise that He is here, and He will come no matter how ugly humankind’s ugly gets. And it has doubtless gotten very ugly this year.

The Great Conjunction was Jesus’ eternal message that He will always show up, wherever we are and throughout whatever has happened.

More than 2,000 years ago, Jesus showed up when the world needed him most.

“After listening to the king, [the wise men] went on their way,” Matthew 2:9-11 says. “And behold, the star that they had seen when it rose went before them until it came to rest over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.”

Time and time again, the promise remains the same: Jesus shows up — and while many of us sat around pondering the fate of the world this year, Jesus showed up more than ever. We simply needed to take a pause and look up to the skies to remember whose we are and whose world this really is.

Merry Christmas and the happiest of new years to come.

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These 15 Christmas TV specials are the best ever made

The Christmas season offers some of the greatest television ever made — from touching commercials to holiday episodes of your favorite shows to seasonal specials. There is always something available for families to gather and watch this time of year.

Yesterday, you experienced the “Top 15 Christmas family-friendly Christmas movies of all time.” Today, enjoy a look at the 15 best Christmas TV specials ever made. Like the movie list, there were a few rules needed to set boundaries for the TV list: Each item had to be “Christmas-y” and family-friendly; had to be created for TV and not a theatrical release that’s now replayed on TV annually; and had to be an actual “special” created for Christmas and not just a Christmas-themed episode of a regular series.

#1: A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

This is one overtly Christian cartoon that has become and annual must-see — even among secularists. When Charlie Brown becomes depressed over the commercialism of Christmas, he turns to the school’s Christmas pageant for inspiration. But as the director of an unruly cast — not to mention his disappointing tree — he finds himself more frustrated than ever. All of that changes when Linus reminds everyone about true meaning of Christmas by reciting the Nativity story from Luke’s Gospel. Plus, the special put the musical genius of Vince Guaraldi into the mainstream of American pop culture.


#2: Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966)

Featuring the incredible vocal talents of Boris Karloff, this tale of a nasty … well … Grinch who hated Christmas because of the happiness it brought to the lives of others offers a poignant story of redemption and change. Determined to keep Christmas from coming, the Grinch steals all of the gifts, decorations and food from the entire town of Whoville. When the Whos still celebrate sans gifts, ol’ Grinchy Claus realizes that Christmas will come without ribbons, come without tags, come without packages, boxes or bags.


#3: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

The “Rudolph” tale of a band of misfits’ journey across the North Pole trying to find where they fit in inspires kids everywhere and is probably the best-known of Rankin/Bass’ many stop-motion Christmas programs. The characters who’d been cast-off save Christmas and become the heroes. Throw in the beloved voice of Burl Ives, and you’ve got a classic that will continue to endure.


#4: Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1970)

This is another one of several Rankin/Bass gems chock-full of great songs and characters. The Mickey Rooney- and Fred Astaire-led creation delves into Santa Claus’ origins and pits him against one of the best comic “villains” of all time — the evil Burgermeister Meisterburger


#5: A Christmas Carol (1984)

George C. Scott’s turn as the miserly Scrooge is the most famous of the made-for-TV movie adaptations of the Dickens tale (though the 1999 Patrick Stewart version may be closing in). The film stayed true to the story and earned Scott an Emmy nomination.


#6: Frosty the Snowman (1969)

Based on Gene Autry’s 1950 hit song, it features Frosty “dying” so he can save a little girl. Kids are taught about love and laying-down-your-life-for-others sacrifice, all with palpable Christian parallels — even the bad guy changes his ways in the end.


#7: John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together (1979)

In 1979, Jim Henson’s team worked with country folk artist John Denver to create an LP of 13 Christmas songs (which eventually went platinum). From that album came a one-hour special for ABC featuring great Muppet takes on holiday classics, plus the typical Muppet humor.


#8: The Star of Bethlehem (2007)

The Magi followed a star in the heavens to find the Christ child. Explore the truth of God’s stellar handiwork in this documentary that uses historic and scientific evidence to tell the real story of the Star of Bethlehem.


#9: Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962)

Call it a history-maker. It was the first-ever animated Christmas special produced for TV, according to The cartoon was created to give the feel of a Broadway production — a feel that was enhanced by the musical work of two Broadway show writers, Jule Styne and Bob Merrill.


#10: The Little Drummer Boy (1968)

This old-school, stop-motion 1960s production about the little orphan boy who didn’t have anything to give to the infant Jesus except his drumming ability teaches kids that the best things we offer each other have nothing to do with money or “stuff.”


#11: Mickey’s Once (and Twice) Upon a Christmas (1999/2004)

Both of these shows are a series of cartoon shorts all about the importance of friends and family and doing good for others at Christmas. From Donald’s repentance for his selfishness to Goofy’s expressions of love for his son Max to Mickey and Minnie’s selfless giving of everything they have for each other, these specials offer great lessons for the little ones.


#12: A Flintstone Christmas (1977)

The story in Fred Flintstone’s one-hour special begins with Fred begrudgingly agreeing to play Santa Claus at a party for the Bedrock Orphanage on Christmas Eve. On the night of the party, an injured and sick Santa Claus recruits Fred to fill in for him (and Barney takes the role of an elf) to make sure all the presents get delivered. The boys work through a massive storm, make a trip to the North Pole and barely make it back to Bedrock in time for the orphanage party.


#13: Prep & Landing (2009)

The North Pole has gone super-hightech in Disney’s Emmy-winning special. Elves Wayne and Lanny, while prepping the world for Santa’s annual trip, are the only members of the command team available to make possible a visit by St. Nick in the midst of a terrible storm. They save Christmas for Sector 7 using sweet gadgets and a little creativity.


#14: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (1983)

Grace (played by Loretta Swit aka “Hot Lips Houlihan”) is tasked with the job of leading her church’s annual Christmas pageant. The disaster of a job gets even worse when the six Herdman kids, who are known troublemakers from a broken home, decide to be a part of the play. By the end, the Herdman children, from whom no one expected anything worthwhile, learn the power of the Christmas nativity story and teach the church the true meaning of Christmas.


#15: Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey (1977)

One of the lesser-known Rankin/Bass creations, “Nestor” is a very religious special that shares the story of an outcast and abused long-eared donkey who goes on to fulfill his special purpose—to carry a very pregnant Mary to Bethlehem. The message, combined with the musical talents of the estimable Roger Miller, make this a powerful show for kids.

A version of this list first appeared in the December 2014 issue of TheBlaze magazine.

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Despite COVID-19 restrictions, 500 Missouri church volunteers find way to pack more than 40,000 meals during Sunday’s morning services

They were not going to let a pandemic get in the way of providing for the less fortunate — especially during the Christmas season.

That’s what was going through the hearts of some 500 volunteers at a church in Joplin, Missouri, over the weekend.

What did they do?

Members of Hope City Church gathered for a different style of worship service Sunday morning, the Christian Post reported. Instead of the usual time of music, prayer, and sermons, the church’s entire morning services — at 9:45 and 11:15 a.m. — were reserved for packing meals for a local charity.

Lead Pastor Cody Walker told the Post that the teams of hundreds packed 40,218 meals for Watered Gardens Ministries, an organization the church has worked with for years now.

What about the pandemic? Walker said they took the appropriate precautions, knowing that it would take extra effort to complete their mission.

“We had about 525 individuals pack the meals. Everyone was required to wear a mask, hair net, and gloves,” the pastor told the Post. “Every volunteer was stationed with a small team of about 10 in a specific spot while they packed the meals.”

It was worth the effort because the church was focused on the desire to “give our people an opportunity this season to impact our local community.”

“In a season where it can be easy to give our attention and focus to things, we wanted to focus on people. Instead of having a typical worship gathering, we spent most of our time packing meals that will help feed hungry families,” Walker said. “We know everyone needs two things: food and hope. We hope these meals will be able to provide both for people who need to know they are not forgotten or alone. Our people at Hope City know we are all in the same boat and serving others is at the heart of the Gospel.”

Watered Gardens Ministries told the Post that Hope City Church filling an ongoing need for an item that runs out regularly and shared that the meals will be passed out at their Mission Market and their Outreach Center.

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Former Philly archbishop says Joe Biden should be denied Holy Communion

The archbishop emeritus of Philadelphia proclaimed that Joe Biden should be denied the sacrament of Holy Communion. The former archbishop maintains that his opinion is not “political,” but rather a “pastoral concern.”

Charles Chaput said that despite Biden being Catholic, the former vice president should not receive Holy Communion. Chaput asserts that Biden’s support for the “grave moral evil” of abortion should disqualify him from Holy Communion.

Chaput voiced his viewpoint in First Things, a religious journal aimed at “advancing a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society.”

“Public figures who identify as ‘Catholic’ give scandal to the faithful when receiving Communion by creating the impression that the moral laws of the Church are optional,” Chaput wrote. “And bishops give similar scandal by not speaking up publicly about the issue and danger of sacrilege.”

“Those bishops who publicly indicate in advance that they will undertake their own dialogue with President-elect Joseph Biden and allow him Communion effectively undermine the work of the task force established at the November bishops’ conference meeting to deal precisely with this and related issues,” Chaput explained. “This gives scandal to their brother bishops and priests, and to the many Catholics who struggle to stay faithful to Church teaching. It does damage to the bishops’ conference, to the meaning of collegiality, and to the fruitfulness of the conference’s advocacy work with the incoming administration.”

“This is not a ‘political’ matter, and those who would describe it as such are either ignorant or willfully confusing the issue,” he continued. “This is a matter of bishops’ unique responsibility before the Lord for the integrity of the sacraments. Moreover, there is also the pressing matter of pastoral concern for a man’s salvation.”

“At minimum, every bishop has the duty of privately discussing these vital moral issues and the destructive effect of receiving Communion unworthily with public figures who act contrary to Church teaching,” he concluded. “Reception of Communion is not a right but a gift and privilege; and on the subject of ‘rights,’ the believing community has a priority right to the integrity of its belief and practice.”

The debate is ignited because Washington, D.C., Cardinal Wilton Gregory proclaimed that he would administer Holy Communion to Biden.

Cardinal-designate Gregory told the Catholic News Service, “I’m not going to veer from that,” in regards to Biden receiving Holy Communion.

He said there is a need for dialogue within the church among people who think differently.

“Conflict within the church is not a new reality; it goes back to apostolic times,” Gregory said. “What seems to be new is the capacity for people to broadcast the conflicts and to allow social communications to intensify the conflict.”

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Dozens of police barricade Canadian church parking lot to keep worshippers out of drive-in service. So they line the highway instead.

The Church of God at Steinbach in Manitoba, Canada, received a $5,000 fine for violating COVID restrictions by meeting in person on Nov. 22. But the churchgoers decided that they would not be deterred from coming together, and on Sunday they held a drive-in service.

But the police wouldn’t let churchgoers into the parking lot — even though would-be attendees had been instructed to stay in their car with the windows up, the Christian Post reported. So the faithful lined the highway in front of the church.

What happened?

After receiving the maximum fine allowed for holding an in-person service that violated Manitoba’s ban on groups larger than five people, the Church of God in rural Steinbach, Manitoba, said it would not stop offering worship gatherings for the faithful.

In a Nov. 23 press release posted to Facebook, Pastor Henry Hildebrandt said that churches “have been singled out” in the COVID lockdowns and not given the same treatment as pot shops, liquor stores, and fast-food joints that have been considered “essential.” This violation of the churchgoers’ “right to religious freedom and peaceful assembly in the Canadian Constitution” is not something Christians follow in “blind obedience,” the pastor said.

“We are not asking for special treatment, just equal treatment,” Hildebrandt wrote. “Christians have always believed that their faith and the reasonable expression of that faith is essential to their mental health and well-being and that being arbitrarily separated from each other is detrimental to them.”

“On Sunday morning, people in this province interacted at Walmart, Costco, and other retailers,” the pastor continued. “The same thing happened at the local liquor store, cannabis dispensaries, and the list goes on. Yet, it is our faith community that is singled out for public criticism, media attention, and visits by the RCMP, Manitoba Public Health and local bylaw enforcement. There must be an allowable expression of faith that is deemed essential while we are allowing the sale of products at establishments that exist solely for the sale of alcohol, coffee, donuts, cannabis, and fast food.”

In light of the government’s crackdown on in-person gathering inside the church building, the church announced it would be holding a drive-in service in its parking lot on Nov. 29 — as did other churches in Manitoba.

Not content with stopping indoor services, the provincial government declared that even drive-in services were verboten.

But the Church of God at Steinbech was not to be deterred. In a Saturday morning Facebook post, the church announced that the planned drive-in service was still on. The church instructed those who planned to attend to stay in their cars with the windows up. A subsequent post told worshippers to tune to 88.5 FM to listen to the service.

“Tomorrow morning we will have the safest parking lot in Manitoba,” the post said. “Keep your windows rolled up and stay in your vehicles. This won’t be like the parking lots of Costco, Walmart, and the government-owned liquor stores where people freely mingle. Make no mistake, this is not about a virus.”

On Sunday morning, parishioners found dozens of police vehicles lined up along the highway outside the church and blocking the entrance to the parking lot.

A video shot as police barricaded the church entrance showed a growing line of cars along the highway being prevented from entering the parking lot.

The church later posted photos showing the highway jammed with cars of people taking part in the drive-in service while parked along the side of the road.

What did the government say about bans on drive-in services?

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, told the CBC that the government has several tools it can use to enforce public health restrictions.

“If somebody was undertaking activity that we felt put the health of the public at risk, we could issue a health hazard order that would require an organization to close,” Roussin said, according to the CBC. “There could be continued fines, there could be prosecution under the Public Health Act. So those are just the various options available to to enforce things.”

According to Roussin, people just need to stay home because even drive-in services can be dangerous.

“We know there are a lot of things that are very important to people, but we’ve heard from our health care providers, we’ve seen the numbers, so we are asking Manitobans for a relatively short period of time to take these steps to stay home and limit any type of gatherings,” Roussin said Monday, according to Canada’s Global News.

“Are people going to be in their car? Is that all household people in there? Does anyone need to use their washroom during this time? There are risks involved with it,” Roussin added.

2020 presidential election Faith George Washington Intelwars Prayer Thanksgiving Thanksgiving 2020

Thank you, almighty God, for your blessings this Thanksgiving

This year, Thanksgiving Day falls on Thursday the 26th of November, marking 231 years to the exact date of the first Thanksgiving Day proclaimed by President George Washington. Forgive the cliche of quoting from Washington’s proclamation, but the simple fact is Washington issued a near-perfect statement of how Americans ought to think about the Thanksgiving holiday, and it’s worth honoring by remembrance.

A mere three paragraphs, Washington’s proclamation begins with an acknowledgement, the proclamation itself follows, and the president concludes with a request for the American people.

First, Washington acknowledges it is “the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor.” These days, Americans are very fond of demanding that government protect our various and innumerable rights. Undoubtedly, the purpose of just government is to secure the rights and liberties of its citizens. But a system of self-government such as we have will fail and will be unjust if the people, who are sovereign, do not recognize their duties. We each have a duty to our neighbors to respect their rights. We have a duty to follow just laws. To be good citizens. To be kind to one another, to serve each other, to help those in need, and for Washington, to be thankful for God’s provisions and to pray for his protection and favor.

In recognition of this duty, Washington proclaims “Thursday the 26th day of November next” to be a day for “the People of these States” to devote to God. Americans are to thank Him, “the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be” for “his kind care and protection,” for his mercy during the Revolutionary War, for the “tranquillity, union, and plenty” which followed, for “the peaceable and rational manner” in which the new American government was established, and “for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed,” the “means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge,” and also for “all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.”

These blessings here recounted are permanent things. Americans continue to enjoy the goodness God has shown to our forefathers, which speaks of God’s eternal nature. The sovereign King of Heaven, in His boundless mercy, saw fit to permit a rag-tag assembly of English colonists to overthrow the most powerful empire on earth and raised up wise political leaders to frame a Constitution that’s lasted for 233 years — a Constitution that to this day protects your rights and liberties and enables you to read this article in the safety of your own home, surrounded by family and friends and delicious food that, Lord willing, will last for several days.

And for those less fortunate, who may lack family or friends and food, did God not provide a country with many who can share with their countrymen? It is a great sin and transgression indeed for those of us who can share to neglect our duties to those who lack.

Yet sin is a reality we all must confront. People treat each other wickedly. We are unkind in our words. We are hateful and murderous in our thoughts. We are greedy, selfish, and self-serving, neglectful and thoughtless of those in need. We are proud and boastful, yet who can truly say they’ve always done right and never harmed another by word or deed? We lie to each other. We only love those who love us first, and even then we love poorly. We are unforgiving. And we’re too often ungrateful.

This is why, in the third paragraph, Washington requests that the American people “unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions.”

The greatest blessing freely offered by God to man is pardon for our sins. God offers forgiveness for all the wrongs we’ve done to Him and to each other to those who repent. Once free of our individual and national sins, He enables us “whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually—to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed.”

So giving thanks to God doesn’t simply involve thankful prayer, though that is important and necessary! It also involves obedience to His will, which is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” We must repent of our sins toward one another and pray for forgiveness. We must love each other by performing our duties as citizens, which is to act righteously, to obey just laws, to respect each other, to help and support each other, both publicly and privately.

As Thanksgiving Day 2020 approaches, I cannot help but think of the hostility too many Americans feel towards one another after a contentious and divisive presidential election. I know this as truth: The anger, frustration, and anxieties felt by Americans on both the left and the right are the consequences of sin. No one is blameless. We have all sinned. If we loved each other as we ought, if we performed our duties as citizens to each other as we ought, would any right-thinking person be outraged or anxious about the White House changing parties for four short years?

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for a God who loves us and offers forgiveness for our sins. I am thankful for a God who listens to and answers prayer. I’m thankful that God rules in heaven, that all authority on earth is on loan from Him, and that He will enact justice when we will not, no matter who occupies the presidency. I am thankful for a God who taught us, when we pray, to ask for our “daily bread,” reminding us that we are to rely on Him for His provisions each day and that we ought not to worry about tomorrow. I am thankful for a country and a Constitution that protect my right to worship this God. And it’s my intention and earnest prayer that in showing my gratitude, I fulfill my duty as an American citizen and a patriot to love my neighbors, as God commands.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” — Philippians 4:6-7