Charisma News | Breaking News. Spiritual Perspective. Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:00:02 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Colorado Teen Gets 4 Years for Plotting With ISIS
A 19-year-old Colorado woman and Muslim convert who admitted that she planned to travel overseas to join Islamic State militants was sentenced on Friday to four years in federal prison as she renounced the violence of radical Islam.
Shannon Maureen Conley has been held without bond since federal agents arrested her in April at Denver International Airport as she prepared to board a plane bound for Germany.
In September, Conley pleaded guilty in Denver federal court to one count of conspiracy to provide material support to Islamic State, designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization.
Islamic State, also known as ISIS, is a Sunni Muslim militant group that has seized large swaths of Iraq and Syria and has beheaded several Western captives. In recent online videos, the group has threatened to kill two Japanese nationals unless paid a $200 million ransom.
Conley, dressed in striped prison garb and wearing a traditional Muslim head scarf, read a prepared statement in court before she was sentenced, pausing at one point to compose herself as she became emotional.
In her statement, she expressed gratitude to the FBI for "potentially saving my life" by intervening to arrest her and said she rejected the violent ideology espoused by Islamic extremism.
"I believe in true Islam, where peace is encouraged," she said, her voice cracking.
Conley, from suburban Denver, struck up an online relationship last year with a Tunisian man, identified as Yousr Mouelhi, who said he was a member of the insurgent group, according to an FBI arrest warrant affidavit.
"During their communications, Conley and Mouelhi shared their view of Islam as requiring participation in violent jihad," according to the plea agreement reached with federal prosecutors.
Conley, a certified nurse's aid, went to a U.S. Army Explorers camp in Texas, and had firearms and first-aid training in preparation for waging war against those she considered infidels, court papers showed.
Federal agents met with Conley several times in an attempt to dissuade her from joining the militant group. But Conley told them she planned to marry Mouelhi and join the fighters to "correct the wrongs against the Muslim world," even though she knew it was illegal, the FBI affidavit said.
Conley had faced up to five years in prison, but prosecutors agreed not to seek the maximum penalty because of her guilty plea and cooperation with investigations.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Keith Coffman/Reuters Featured U.S. News Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:30:00 -0500
Prison Chaplain Wins $4M Settlement After Police Break His Leg

A prison chaplain was awarded $4 million after police attacked him. 

Chaplain Christopher Graham was attacked and arrested in September 2010 after the mother of his children called police and told them he attacked her with a machete. 
When police arrived, "They thought I was some thug," Graham tells the New York Daily News. "They pulled [my] hat off my head and pulled dreadlocks out of my head. They slammed me to the floor and held me down. One of them was stepping on my neck and my face. The other one was trying to break my leg."
All the while, Graham kept mum on his occupation until one officer at the 77th Precinct in New York noticed an ID tag hanging from Graham's neck. 
Graham was initially charged with misdemeanor assault, menacing, criminal possession of a weapon, resisting arrest and harassment, but the judge dropped the charges.
Though the jury is awarding Graham $3.95 million in compensatory damages, the Corporation Counsel is considering challenging the verdict.
"We review, in a variety of ways, all allegations of officer misconduct," Deputy Chief Kim Royster tells the Daily News. "A [verdict in] a civil case does not constitute a finding or even evidence that an officer has engaged in any misconduct."
Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Thu, 29 Jan 2015 13:00:00 -0500
Imprisoned Pastor Saeed Writes a Poignant Letter to President Obama

American Pastor Saeed Abedini has written a letter from his Iranian jail cell to President Obama thanking him for meeting with his wife and kids.

Last week, President Obama met with Pastor Saeed's wife, Naghmeh, and their two children, Rebekka and Jacob, and promised to make Pastor Saeed's freedom a "top priority," even telling Jacob that he "will try" to work to get Pastor Saeed home by Jacob's birthday in March.

Yesterday, Pastor Saeed told a family member in Iran who was able to visit him that President Obama's willingness to take the time to meet with his wife and kids greatly encouraged him.

He wrote a letter to President Obama expressing his immense gratitude:

Dear Mr. President,

I was personally encouraged that you were in my hometown of Boise, Idaho, and made time to visit my wife and children. They have had a heavy burden to carry in my absence, and your presence helped to relieve some of that burden. Thank you for your fatherly compassion of letting Jacob know that you will try to get me home by his birthday. I know that as a father you can truly understand the pain and anguish of my children living without their father and the burden that is on my wife as a single mother.

I also know how encouraged Christians around the world were to also hear of this meeting. Nothing is more valuable to the body of Christ than to see how the Lord is in control and moves ahead of countries and leadership through united prayer.

Thank you again for standing up for my family and me and for thousands of Christians across the world who are persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. President Obama, you have my prayers from inside of these walls. I pray for God's guidance, wisdom and blessing for you as you lead this great nation. 

God bless you and your family, and God bless America!

Saeed Abedini

Prisoner for Christ, who is proud to be part of this great nation of the United States of America that cares for religious freedom across the world.

Rajaee Shahr prison
Karaj, Iran

Pastor Saeed—a U.S. citizen—has been wrongfully imprisoned, separated from his wife and kids, for nearly 2 1/2 years in an Iranian prison because of his Christian faith.

We agree with Pastor Saeed that President Obama's willingness to meet with his family sends a powerful message about America's priorities and resolve to defend persecuted Christians.

During his weekly visitation yesterday, Pastor Saeed was allowed to talk and pray with a family member from Iran for about 20 minutes in the Iranian prison.

As Pastor Saeed expressed last week, he continues to suffer from increased pain—the result of injuries sustained from prison beatings. He continues to need medical care.

Now it is time to bring Pastor Saeed home. We will continue working with the Obama Administration, the State Department, the United Nations and world leaders toward Pastor Saeed's freedom.

Please continue to pray for his release, as we continue working to bring him home to America. Stand with us and urge President Obama to take action on his word and not leave Pastor Saeed behind. Sign our petition for Pastor Saeed's freedom (below and) at

Jordan Sekulow/ACLJ Featured World News Thu, 29 Jan 2015 12:00:00 -0500
Judge Roy Moore Takes a Stand Against Judicial Tyranny

Federal judges may have the last word on marriage—but they won't have the final one. That's becoming abundantly clear in Alabama, the latest state to feel the sting of a runaway court invalidating the will of the people on marriage. In a letter to Governor Robert Bentley (R-Ala.), Chief Justice Roy Moore made that quite clear—explaining that this isn't an issue that the federal courts will resolve. Rather, he said, it "raises serious, legitimate concerns about the propriety of federal court jurisdiction over the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment."

Unelected judges and a handful of lawyers have been pushing state marriage amendments over like sleeping cows. Meanwhile, stunned Americans have struggled to make sense of a legal system that puts its own political agenda ahead of the expressed will of the people. Like most conservatives, FRC has watched in horror as the courts have robbed tens of millions of Americans of their voice on an issue of critical importance—not just to our nation's stability, but to its very survival.

If the Supreme Court completes the circle and invents a right to same-sex "marriage," I believe it will be the Roe v. Wade of the 21st Century. People then, as now, insisted that the Supreme Court had the final say on the issue. Forty-two years later, they couldn't be more wrong. Far from settling the issue of abortion, the Supreme Court ignited a powerful, nationwide movement—now four decades strong—to overturn the justices' ruling.

Of course, there are a few out-of-touch writers who take issue with the comparison, surprised that anyone wouldn't just "move on" and accept the redefinition of mankind's most fundamental institution. Damon Linker at The Week insists that legalizing same-sex "marriage" would never spark the kind of nationwide protest that abortion has. It's "nonsense," he argues. "Unlike Roe v. Wade, same-sex 'marriage' isn't a life or death issue. They can't even convincingly demonstrate that anyone is hurt in any way by a gay wedding," he writes. "The harm, in the present, is purely figurative."

It certainly wasn't "figurative" for Melissa and Aaron KleinJack PhillipsBarronnelle StutzmanNang and Chris MaiCraig James and others who may not have lost their lives—but did lose their livelihoods over their moral beliefs on marriage. Meanwhile, abortion wasn't widely accepted because it runs counter to nature—mothers don't kill their own offspring. Same-sex "marriage" also runs counter to nature—since it isn't the natural bridge that brings the two sexes together.

Linker goes on to argue that public approval for redefining marriage has surged "because there are no cogent arguments on the 'anti' side." That not only flies in the face of social science, but of public polling too. While some may accept same-sex marriage as they have abortion-on-demand, same-sex "marriage" will never enjoy universal acceptance as the norm that natural marriage does. We've already seen a decline in public acceptance of same-sex "marriage" as others have lost their freedoms of speech and religion. Those numbers will increase.

And if this were such non-issue, why are GOP candidates and voters so motivated by marriage? "Candidates have got to be declarative about where they stand. Period," Republican Sam Clovis told reporters after Iowa's forum. "If you're not vocally pro-life and pro-traditional marriage, I don't think you can win here because you're going to get hammered. Maybe you could win in New Hampshire, but it's a different culture."

Which brings us to another point. Linker wrongly suggests that Roe—not marriage—"undemocratically overruled the will of the people." Thirty-six states, he explains, have same-sex "marriage." What he fails to mention is that only three of those states redefined marriage at the ballot box—the other 33 were imposed by judges, given as ultimatums by the courts to legislatures, or passed by lawmakers in defiance of voters. If liberals honestly believe that Americans—millions of whom turned out to protect natural marriage in law—will stand by while the courts silence their voice, they're mistaken.

Tony Perkins is President of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature.

Tony Perkins Featured Opinion Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:30:00 -0500
Carl’s Jr. Super Bowl Ad Uses Naked Woman to Sell Hamburgers

I've never been a big fan of Hardee's or Carl's Jr., and this revelation makes me less of a fan. Even if I did eat greasy fast food, I wouldn't spend my money at either of these chains because of their tasteless advertising.

Last year, I wrote about how Hardee's and Carl's were essentially using soft porn to sell burgers. Now, they are once again using sex to sell fries.

"Their new ad is extremely inappropriate to air at any time, but especially while families are likely watching. Their 'All-Natural' commercial will surely ruin family time once again," One Million Moms bemoans.

"The commercial that will be shown at the Super Bowl features a woman who appears to be naked as she walks through a farmer's market. This is as close to complete nudity as you can get because she appears to be nude until the end when she is in full view wearing a string bikini top and tiny shorts while eating a hamburger from Carl's Jr."

According to One Million Moms, the only indication as to who sponsored this Super Bowl ad is in the final few seconds of the commercial.

"Carl's Jr. and Hardee's regularly bank on the 'sex sells' philosophy," says One Million Moms. "There is no need for a burger to be promoted by sex appeal, and this advertising ploy is why 1MM will not give up."

Want to let these fast food chains know their commercial is tasteless? Click here to take action.

Jennifer LeClaire Featured Opinion Thu, 29 Jan 2015 11:00:00 -0500
Gay Politician Threatens to Out Adulterous Congressmen for Blocking Same-Sex Marriage

Alabama's first openly gay lawmaker says she will "out" elected officials if they try to block the same-sex marriage ruling.  

State Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, says that if the state's politicians are protesting gay marriage based on "family values," she will show exactly how family-friendly they are.  

"I will not stand by and allow legislators to talk about 'family values' when they have affairs, and I know of many who are and have. I will call our elected officials who want to hide in the closet OUT," Todd reportedly posted on Facebook

Todd's comments came after high-profile politicians said they would be fighting a judge's ruling striking down a ban against same-sex marriage.  

"Don't start throwing bricks at my window when yours is already cracked as well," Todd tells

Todd was particularly offended with Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, who made this comment following the judge's ruling: "It is outrageous when a single, unelected and unaccountable federal judge can overturn the will of millions of Alabamians who stand in firm support of the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment. The Legislature will encourage a vigorous appeals process, and we will continue defending the Christian conservative values that make Alabama a special place to live."

Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:30:00 -0500
Al Jazeera English Bans Terms 'Terrorist', 'Islamist'

In the wake of Tuesday's attack on the Corinthia Hotel in Libya, an Al Jazeera English executive reportedly sent an email to employees banning the use of certain terms, including "terrorists," "extremism" and "Islamist."

Fox News' Todd Starnes blasted the network for its new policy.

"If nothing else, the leaked email confirms what we've long suspected: Al Jazeera is nothing less than a propaganda machine for those who hate America," Starnes said. "And while they are busy banning words—maybe Al Jazeera ought to add impartial and objective journalism to its list."

Watch Todd's American Dispatch in the video above.

Todd Starnes Featured American Dispatch Opinion Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:00:00 -0500
Prophetic Word Sparks Purity and Power Revival in Virginia

While writing The Next God: An Appeal to Heaven for Spiritual Awakening, I traveled to many cities to witness pockets of revival breaking out.

What the Holy Spirit showed me is there are many expressions of revival. Of course, they are all marked by a fervent hunger for the presence of God. One expression of revival is manifesting in Bristol, Virginia.

What started as a three-hour service with Ryan LeStrange and Jeremiah Johnson has turned into a genuine outpouring at Impact International Church there.

It all started when Johnson, pastor at Heart of the Father Ministry in Lakeland, Florida, released a prophetic word about an appointed season of transformation and revival opening up in the Tri-Cities region of Tennessee and Virginia.

"The atmosphere shifted and it became clear that this was not an ordinary meeting," says LeStrange, founder of Impact International Ministries in Bristol. "There has been a tangible move of purity and fire sweeping the nightly services."

They're calling it Awaken21: A purity and power revival. The number 21 represents a set time in which God is igniting the outpouring. It also represents holiness and completion.

LeStrange says one of the most powerful moments was when people started repenting for exalting their gifts above intimacy. The room, he says, was filled with the cry of hunger.

"Young people have been flooding the altar crying out for more and being set free," LeStrange says. "People are committing their lives to the Lord and restoring their first love."

Johnson points to God's healing power in the meetings, noting a powerful miracle when LeStrange prayed for deaf ears to be opened.

"A man who was watching online from Ireland was instantly healed and his deaf ear began to hear. He reported that he had been deaf in that ear since childhood. Many others have been healed of various infirmities," Johnson says.

"On Saturday night healing power swept the meeting and a woman who had driven in from North Carolina received a powerful miracle in her back. She had surgical rods in her back and was suddenly able to bend and move. After the meeting she took her brace off free from pain and restored movement."

I have worked with both Ryan and Jeremiah. They are both sowing the seeds of revival everywhere they go as we enter into what I believe is a Third Great Awakening. Sure, it's growing darker in America, but I believe the next move of God is emerging even now. (Click here to listen to Ryan and me talk about the next move of God.)

I see the remnant rising. I see people from different denominations praying together for awakening. I see more desperation than I've ever seen in the body of Christ. Despite all the doom and gloom I see around me, I have never been more hopeful. We're not there yet, but I believe a spirit of repentance is coming over the church and those who embrace it will help usher in the next great move of God.

Jennifer LeClaire is senior editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and author of several books, including The Making of a Prophet and Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Religion and Witchcraft. You can visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Jennifer LeClaire Featured Watchman on the Wall Opinion Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:00:00 -0500
Katy Perry's Preacher Dad Has Plenty to Say About Pop Star's Superbowl Performance

Come Sunday, Keith Hudson will be among the crowds. Not at as a traveling minister, though, but in the stands during his daughter's Super Bowl XLIX halftime performance. 

"Oh no, I don't have a problem. She's gonna do some good ones—she's excited," Katy Perry's father tells the DailyMail. 

Perry and Hudson have clashed over values since Perry left Christian music to pursue a pop career. Perry believes in astrology and aliens, but not God—yet their relationship remains intact. 

"People don't understand that I have a great relationship with my parents—like, how that can exist," Perry tells Marie Claire. "There isn't any judgment. They don't necessarily agree with everything I do, but I don't necessarily agree with everything they do. They're at peace with—they pray for me is what they do."  

However, in that same interview, she tells MC she has barred her parents from certain performances—like President Barack Obama's inauguration—because the family disagreed on politics. 

Hudson has attended Perry's megaconcerts before, though he was disturbed by what he saw. 

"I was at a concert of Katy's where there were 20,000 people," he says of one performance. "I'm watching this generation, and they were dancing and jumping around. It was almost like church! I stood there and watched how much they were admiring Katy. I thought, 'They're loving and worshipping the wrong thing.' I couldn't help but weep and weep and weep."  

Hudson and his wife, Mary, became pastors in the 1980s and traveling evangelists in the '90s. Keith labels himself as an end-times messenger, while Mary is an author and prophet, according to their website.

Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Thu, 29 Jan 2015 09:00:00 -0500
Mitt Romney Launches Fiery Dart at Hillary Clinton

Republican Mitt Romney criticized Democrat Hillary Clinton over foreign policy and the economy on Wednesday in what could be a prelude to the line of attack he takes if he decides to run for president a third time. 

Romney seemed to be in campaign mode in a closely watched appearance in Starkville, Mississippi, delivering a speech at Mississippi State University and stopping at a local barbecue restaurant, where he ate a pulled-pork sandwich. 

In his speech, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee looked past potential Republican rivals for 2016 and raised questions about President Barack Obama's struggle to contain Islamic militants in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. 

He criticized Obama over his refusal to refer to the militancy movement as "radical Islam." 

"I don't know how the president expects to defeat the jihadists if he won't even call them what they are," Romney said. 

Romney targeted Clinton in his remarks, accusing her of making mistakes as Obama's first-term secretary of state and of being out of touch with how jobs are created. 

The wife of former President Bill Clinton and former senator from New York is the overwhelming favorite to be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016 should she decide to run. 

She "cluelessly pressed a reset button" in U.S. relations with Russia, which did not work, Romney said, because Moscow proceeded to invade Ukraine. 

And he assailed her declaration to an audience last October not to let anyone tell them that "it's corporations and businesses that create jobs." Clinton disavowed the remark soon after. 

"How can Secretary Clinton provide opportunity for all if she doesn't know where jobs come from in the first place?" Romney said. 

Applause erupted in the speaking hall when Romney said he was considering another presidential run. Having endured relentless Democratic attacks over his wealth in 2012, he made a joke about it in his speech, saying he did not need to make paid speeches because "as you've no doubt heard, I'm already rich." 

Romney is to decide in a matter of weeks whether to seek the presidency again. If he does, advisers say, he will run a different kind of campaign than last time, including more of a focus on the plight of people living in poverty. 

Romney would face a formidable contender in former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is also exploring whether to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

 © 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Steve Holland/Reuters Featured Politics Thu, 29 Jan 2015 08:30:00 -0500
Billy Graham's Grandson Urges Church to 'Wake Up'

In Ferguson, Missouri, burned buildings still lay in piles of rubble, a silent testament to the violence that engulfed the city following the death of Michael Brown and the subsequent grand jury decision.

A crossbeam that once held a roof aloft now sits crookedly on the ground, spray painted with the simple words, "Jesus Help Us!"

On Sunday, Jan. 25, hundreds of Christians of various races from across Ferguson and the greater St. Louis area joined with area pastors and political leaders to cry out with the same message. This gathering, called "We Are One," focused on repentance, reconciliation and unity.

From the very beginning of the event, the name of Jesus was lifted up as the answer to racism.

Will Graham, grandson of Billy Graham, joined with Dr. Tony Evans of Dallas, Bishop Harry Jackson Jr. of Washington, D.C., Aeneas Williams (NFL Hall of Famer and St. Louis area pastor) and others in calling those in the audience to draw their hope and truth from Christ alone.

During his allotted time near the beginning of the program, Will Graham urged repentance.

"As a church we've lost our first love. Instead of putting Jesus Christ at the forefront of everything we do, we put ourselves up front," Graham said. "My friends, we need to repent. As leaders, how can we ever expect to have the community experience repentance if we don't repent ourselves?

"The church has fallen asleep. It's not just a problem in Ferguson, or a problem in St. Louis, or in America, but around the world."

Paraphrasing Romans 13:11, Graham proclaimed, "Now is the time to wake out of that sleep!"

Aeneas Williams, who is well known for intercepting passes and entering the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is the pastor of The Spirit Church in St. Louis. He brought the same passion he once displayed on the gridiron when he spoke from the pulpit at "We Are One."

"We shall unify! We shall—in our own generation—be a part of the generation of people that bring law enforcement together, that bring all ethnicities together," said Williams. "We're not going to leave here and pass on the baton of division to the next generation!"

Dr. Tony Evans, who pastors Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, provided the keynote message and called upon the audience and churches to be united as one in Jesus Christ and to impact the world around them.

He shared an anecdote of a couple that was in a car accident. The man feared his fiancée would bleed to death, but he found a home nearby with a sign hanging from it announcing the doctor who lived there. After answering the door, the doctor rebuffed the wounded couple, saying he was no longer practicing, despite the sign by the door.

Evans then made the connection to the church today, as society is bleeding. "It's time now for Ferguson to make a choice. Either be what we say we are, or take down the sign. Don't say I'm a church, but be segregated. Don't say I'm a church and be racist. Don't say I'm a church, and be full of injustice! Either take down your sign, or be the real thing!"

Will Graham and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association were invited to be a part of the program due to the ministry efforts of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team following the riots that engulfed Ferguson. Over the course of several weeks from late November 2014 to early January 2015, some 81 crisis-trained chaplains prayed with more than 1,500 people from in and around the community.

Erik Ogren/BGEA Featured U.S. News Thu, 29 Jan 2015 08:00:00 -0500
WATCH: Larry Tomczak Sets the Record Straight With CNN's Anderson Cooper on the Gay Agenda

Larry Tomczak wrote an article for his Here's the Deal commentary on Charisma News that drew responses from both Ellen DeGeneres and CNN's Anderson Cooper. In this second video response, Tomczak goes point by point through Cooper's response to his article, setting the record straight.


Jennifer LeClaire Featured Opinion Thu, 29 Jan 2015 07:00:00 -0500
Let’s Call 'Fifty Shades of Grey' What It Is: Perverted

When the novel Fifty Shades of Grey was published three years ago, critics described it as "dull and poorly written," "depressing" and "a sad joke." Yet, it sold 100 million copies.

Women were fascinated by the dark tale of a 21-year-old college student, Ana Steele, who falls in love with a handsome but mysterious young billionaire named Christian Grey after she interviews him for a newspaper.

The book was accurately dubbed "mommy porn" because it is sexually graphic and full of crude language, and also because Christian expects his girlfriends to totally submit to his sexual tastes—which involve whips, chains, handcuffs and gray neckties.

This is not just mainstream porn. This is mainstream bondage porn. And it's coming to a theater near you, just in time for Valentine's Day.

The movie version of the book will hit theaters on Feb. 13, and Fandango says Fifty Shades of Grey is already breaking records for advance ticket sales. Presumably, fans of the book will be lining up at the cineplex to watch Christian abuse Ana in his bedroom, which she calls the Red Room of Pain.

Critics expected the film to be rated N-17. (After all, the actor who plays Christian, Jamie Dornan, visited a sex dungeon to prepare for the role.) But the Motion Picture Association of America announced last week that Fifty Shades will be rated R. That means (1) the sex scenes were edited carefully, (2) teenagers can see it legally, and (3) the movie will probably make a ton of money.

I think I'm going to be sick.

We Americans get really angry when oil companies spill toxic fuel in our oceans; yet we applaud when Hollywood dumps a tanker of poisonous garbage like Fifty Shades of Grey on our country—with no offer to clean up the damage. We should be outraged. I'm not going to picket my local theater when this movie debuts, but I'm urging people to think before they spend $10.50 to flush what's left of American decency down the toilet.

Here are three of the biggest reasons why we should urge everyone to cover their eyes and run from Fifty Shades of Grey:

1. It encourages sexual deviance. In the novel, Christian invites Ana to become his sexual partner, but he asks her to sign a document that spells out what he plans to do to her—and he demands that she tell no one about it. The contract says: "The Submissive shall accept whippings, floggings, spankings, canings, paddlings, or any other discipline the Dominant should decide to administer, without hesitation, inquiry or complaint." Ana finds out that Christian has had relationships like this with 15 other women—and yet she still pursues him, agrees to the painful sex and enjoys it.

There might have been some redemptive value in this movie if Ana called the police or ran out of Christian's penthouse and refused his advances because she respected herself. But no—she submits to the abuse, and signals to women everywhere that there is pleasure in pain. The film also tells women that it's OK to be a mindless sexual slave, especially if your boyfriend is rich, handsome and has his own helicopter.

2. It glorifies violence against women. Last year a researcher from the University of Michigan did a study on the effects of Fifty Shades of Grey on women readers. It showed that women who read the books (it is actually a trilogy) were 25 percent more likely to have an abusive partner; 34 percent were more likely to have a partner who stalked them; and 65 percent were more likely to engage in binge drinking.

Just as there is a link between violent video games and violent behavior in teen boys, this study showed that women who read graphic porn novels tend to gravitate toward the types of abusive relationships depicted in books like Fifty Shades. The study also showed that these women were more likely to have eating disorders. (Interestingly, the dominant male character in Fifty Shades carefully controls his girlfriend's eating habits.)

3. It totally perverts the meaning of love. In one scene in the book, Christian buys Ana a platinum and diamond bracelet so she can cover the bruises on her wrists—which she got after being tied to her boyfriend's bed. The message from Ana's lover: I will hurt you, but I will buy you nice gifts so you will stay with me. That's twisted. And couples are going to see this movie on Valentine's Day?

One of the most bizarre moments in the book occurs after Ana leaves Christian and then goes back to him. She says: "The physical pain you inflicted was not as bad as the pain of losing you." Any psychologist will tell you that is the mentality of an abuse victim, who is brainwashed to believe that the attention she gets from her abuser is better than no attention at all.

True love is not about pain, domination or control—but Hollywood is happy to serve big helpings of this slop if people are willing to pay for it. Please protect women. Please defend decency. Please don't support this movie.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter @leegrady. He is the author of 10 Lies the Church Tells Women and other books. You can learn more about his ministry, The Mordecai Project, at

J. Lee Grady Featured Opinion Thu, 29 Jan 2015 06:00:00 -0500
Fearing Apocalypse, Parents Kill Children and Commit Suicide

 The parents of a Utah family found dead in a locked bedroom at their home last year often discussed religiously-held notions of the apocalypse and orchestrated a multi-drug familicide using methadone and over-the-counter cold medication, police said on Tuesday. 

The bodies of Benjamin and Kristi Strack and three of their children aged 11 to 14 were discovered by the Stracks' lone surviving child and his grandmother on Sept. 27 in Springville, about 45 miles south of Salt Lake City. 

"It was a fairly common theme for the parents to talk about, the apocalypse, the end of days, final judgment," said Springville Police Department detective Greg Turnbow, the lead officer on the case. 

"Their surviving son, when he was interviewed, indicated that his mother had made comments that if things got bad enough she would much rather take herself and her family out in a comfortable way, rather than a painful way." 

The information was released at a press conference on Tuesday that covered information from a medical examiner and broader information about the case, Turnbow said. 

The parents deaths were ruled suicides. The children ages 11 and 12 were ruled homicides, and the 14-year-old son had a note in which he was aware of his "possible impending doom," Turnbow said. 

The father had heroin in his body and the others had methadone and over-the-counter medication, Turnbow said, citing coroner's findings. There was no sign of a struggle. 

Among the items recovered from the home by investigators, according to the warrants cited by the Deseret News, were empty bottles of liquid methadone, as well as 10 opened and empty packets of nighttime cold and flu medication. 

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Eric M. Johnson/Reuters Featured U.S. News Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:32:48 -0500
Cartoonist Urges Restraint Except When It Comes to Israel

One might think cartoonists, as champions of irreverence and untrammeled free speech, would be unanimously resolute in defending their martyred comrades at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Yet Joe Sacco, one of the most popular and outspoken of today's political cartoonists, is actually constructing an argument for self-censorship. What Sacco prescribes is a kind of selective self-censorship, in which cartoonists refrain from insulting Muslims—but are free to target Israelis.

Showered with accolades and awards for his book-length graphic stories about serious historical topics such as World War I, Bosnia and the Arab-Israeli conflict, Sacco has emerged as one of the most influential figures in making the comic art form respectable beyond the confines of comic fandom—and providing educators with an effective new way to teach history.

Thus it was no surprise that Sacco was a much-sought-after commentator on the Charlie Hebdo slaughter. He told the New York Times that he was, of course, "disgusted" by the "really contemptible" killings. "But," he hurried to add, "I also come from a position of trying to understand why people are affected by images, and not just say, 'Why can't you take a joke?' An image of Muhammad in some compromising position isn't meant to be just a joke."

Salman Rushdie, perhaps the world's most famous target of Islamist intolerance, recently referred to these rationalizers as "the 'but' brigade." For Joe Sacco, Charlie Hebdo's satirical portrayals of Islam's founder were not satirical at all. They were not "meant to be just a joke." They were meant to inflict harm. He is suggesting that it was the Charlie Hebdo staffers who started it, and the men who gunned them down were guilty—but with extenuating circumstances.

Sacco elaborated on his point in the way a cartoonist does best—by creating a 10-panel comic strip for the British newspaper The Guardian. Sacco's piece, "On Satire," attempts to discredit critics of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, both among his fellow cartoonists and the wider public. He begins by contrasting the response of other cartoonists to his own. The others are depicted as self-righteous cavemen, obnoxiously beating their chests in affirmation of free speech; he is a sober, thoughtful visitor to the graves of the victims, respectfully doffing his hat. 

Sacco then shifts into "Oh yeah? Let's see how you like it" mode. He presents distasteful caricatures of blacks and Jews, accompanied by two sarcastic questions. Next to the black man in a tree with a banana, Sacco asks, "I'm allowed to offend, right?" Next to the hook-nosed Jew counting money, he asks, "If you can take the 'joke' now, would it have been as funny in 1933?"

There are two glaring problems with Sacco's comparison of the Muhammad cartoons to racist cartoons about blacks or Jews. The first is that a cartoon about Muhammad is not ipso facto a racist attack on Muslims or Arabs. It is a satirical poke at a religion. A cartoon satirizing, for example, Moses, is not automatically anti-Semitic. Mocking the tenets of a religious faith is not the same as making negative statements about all members of a particular race or ethnic group.

The second problem is Sacco's superficial understanding of history. Of course, neither blacks nor Jews find it funny when a cartoonist depicts them in a bigoted fashion—but they do not murder the cartoonist. Sacco asks if his grotesque depiction of a Jew "would have been funny in 1933," that is, the year the Nazis rose to power. It certainly would not have been funny. But German Jews did not murder anti-Semitic cartoonists in 1933. Civilized people respond in a civilized way when they are offended. In the free world, the answer to Sacco's sarcastic question, "I'm allowed to offend, right?" is a resounding "yes."

The climactic scene of The Guardian cartoon shows the infamous photograph of the hooded Abu Ghraib detainee with his arms spread, with Sacco commenting, "Perhaps when we tire of holding up our middle finger we can try to think about why the world is the way it is—and what it is about Muslims in this time and place that makes them unable to laugh off a mere image."

But the Abu Ghraib abuses took place 12 years ago. The Paris killers were not yelling about Abu Ghraib. They shouted, "We have avenged the Prophet!" Sacco is literally inventing excuses for the killers.

In the final panel of Sacco's cartoon diatribe, men with axes are chasing two unarmed Muslims, one of them a woman carrying a baby. Sacco sarcastically declares, "If we answer 'Because something is deeply wrong with them'—certainly something was deeply wrong with the killers—then let us drive them from their homes and into the sea, for that is going to be far easier than sorting out how we fit in each other's world."

Those who are familiar with Sacco's graphic novels about the Arab-Israeli conflict will note the irony of that "driving them into the sea" reference in The Guardian. In Sacco's vivid imagination, Westerners are shown driving Muslims into the sea. But in the real world, that phrase is best known in connection with an historical event where it was actually employed: the attempt by five Arab armies, in 1948, to slaughter the Jewish residents of the newborn state of Israel—to perpetrate a Charlie Hebdo massacre, writ large. 

Yet Sacco's 2009 magnum opus on the Arab-Israeli conflict, the 388-page Footnotes in Gaza, contains exactly one panel about the 1948 war, and even there Sacco cannot bring himself to acknowledge that the Arabs' intention was to destroy Israel. The centerpiece of the book is an Arab claim that Israeli soldiers massacred 275 Arab civilians in the Gaza city of Khan Younis during the 1956 war. Sacco, who accepts the Arab version hook, line and sinker, says this explains why Arabs hate Israel—the killings in Gaza "planted hatred in their hearts." That's why he skips over the 1948 war. It would disrupt his narrative that the Arab-Israeli conflict essentially began in 1956.

Sacco was unable to locate a single Israeli soldier who witnessed, or even heard about, the alleged massacre. He relies entirely on his interviews with elderly Gazans, who regale him with gory (but often implausible or contradictory) tales. The reader is inundated with so many images of Israelis beating, harassing and generally humiliating defenseless Arabs that it is not hard to believe the Israelis massacred some of them too. 

The notion that an anti-Jewish cartoon must include a hooked nose and some dollar bills, as Sacco suggested in his cartoon for The Guardian, is passé. In today's world, the monstrous Israeli mass murderer can serve a similar purpose. Sacco's definition of cartoons that are racist provocations in effect preserves an important exception: slandering the Jewish state is legitimate. 

Joe Sacco has sharpened the lines of the post-Paris debate. Do provocative cartoonists share the blame for their own grisly deaths? Should satirists restrain their pens when the offended parties have at their disposal armies of jihadis—or, in the case of North Korea, nuclear missiles? Thanks to Sacco, perhaps this is also the moment to consider whether malicious cartoons of Jews are illegitimate only if the targets are Diaspora Jews.

Dr. Rafael Medoff is a historian who has worked with Marvel Comics and Disney's educational division to create comics and cartoons about historical topics. He is the co-author of the forthcoming book "Cartoonists Against the Holocaust."

Rafael Medoff/For Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Thu, 29 Jan 2015 07:00:00 -0500
Atheists Launch Vile Attack Against Mayor Who Honors God

A small town in Alabama that has been heavily criticized by anti-religion groups has received a boost from attorneys with the Pacific Justice Institute.

The City of Winfield, outside of Birmingham, came under fire after the mayor and city council passed a proclamation in December acknowledging the blessings of God and expressing a desire to seek divine guidance. Over the next several weeks, the city received blistering letters of condemnation from the American Civil Liberties Union and Freedom From Religion Foundation decrying the alleged violation of separation of church and state. 

The FFRF letter was particularly harsh, suggesting that God was the mayor's "imaginary friend" and that, if God did exist, he probably did not care about the small Alabama town. 

In response, PJI sent a letter to Mayor Randy Price late Friday, pointing out the proclamation's consistency both with recent cases and historic American traditions. The PJI letter noted the omission in either the ACLU or FFRF letters of failed attempts by those groups to mount similar legal challenges. 

Within the last few years the FFRF lost a legal challenge to President Obama's continuation of the National Day of Prayer proclamation, and the ACLU lost a case where it had sued over Ohio's state motto, "With God all things are possible."  

Court decisions in this area have also allowed local proclamations and resolutions to voice anti-religious sentiments. For instance, the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the right of San Francisco officials to issue scathing denunciations of religious groups and the Catholic Church, in the name of free speech.            

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, "The City of Winfield has chosen to continue a very long American tradition of acknowledging God and seeking divine guidance for continued blessings. The ACLU and FFRF may huff and puff, but they can't rewrite history. This proclamation does not compel or coerce anyone to do anything. As with any governmental action, not everyone is going to like it, but that doesn't make the proclamation unconstitutional." 

Pacific Justice Institute Featured U.S. News Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:00:00 -0500
This School Is Getting Shut Down for 'Religious Intolerance'

Education officials in the United Kingdom are shutting down a Christian school, accusing staff of not teaching the students to be more tolerant of other religions.

Officials at the British Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) targeted Durham Free School in a report that condemns them for teaching their Christian beliefs instead of multiculturalism.

"Leaders are failing to prepare students for life in modern Britain. Some students hold discriminatory views of other people who have different faiths, values or beliefs," the report states.

The report also blasts the Christian school's hiring practices, saying: "Governors place too much emphasis on religious credentials when they are recruiting key staff."

School officials dispute the report, stating: "There are a number of irregularities in the action that the government is taking."

The Durham Free School has until early February to dispute the report, and they're vowing to fight to stay open.

Dozens of parents have written to defend the school, saying it has made a big difference in their childrens' lives. Their testimonials say their children are receiving an excellent education and have even blossomed after facing bullying in previous schools.

"I'm not a religious person, but it's important to me that my child grows up knowing how to treat people, as well as how to pass exams. The school's core values offer an excellent grounding for all children growing up in modern Britain," one parent said.

"Giving our children the values of Christianity has to be embraced; as difficult as it will be given the peer pressures of modern life, having a moralistic outlook will benefit them and indeed their children and the future," another parent wrote. 

The OFSTED report also accuses the school of not doing enough to fight bullying of students.

But the school states on its website that 100 percent of parents who replied to a survey stated that their child is happy there, and their child feels safe.

And 98 percent of the 64 parents who responded to an anti-bullying questionnaire in December said the school managed bullying effectively. And the testimonials back up that survey.

"There's no way I'd send my daughter to any other school. She was badly bullied at primary school; now she's up and dressed and ready to go to school at 6:30 AM. For her to come in from school with a smile on her face is everything," another parent wrote.

CBN News Featured World News Wed, 28 Jan 2015 14:00:00 -0500
71-Year-Old Pastor Facing Life in Prison for Molesting His Grandkids

A pastor was convicted of molesting his own grandchildren.  

The Rev. Roy Harriger was charged with molesting three of his grandchildren, but only convicted of molesting two. Since his arrest, more than 15 people have signed affidavits saying he sexually abused them as children. 

"(The family was) obviously happy with the verdict," District Attorney Joseph Cardone tells the Daily News Online. "I'm pleased for the victims and proud of them for coming here and testifying under such difficult circumstances. Hopefully they will be able to get some closure with this." 

"I thought of him as my father," one family member told New York's WKBW. "The only dad I knew. And for him to do this to my kids killed me because I couldn't believe that a man who was supposed to be a man of God would do this to anybody. So I just thank whoever is up there, putting him away for good, where he needs to go. I want my kids to enjoy the rest of their lives knowing that he's in jail." 

A bondsman rescinded Harriger's bond, meaning Harriger must remain in prison until his sentencing in eight weeks, according to WGRZ

"He's a flight risk," Harriger's son George tells WIBV. "He could hurt my mom, he could hurt other people and stuff, he's on the streets for eight more weeks until sentencing. This is just wrong. He should not be on the streets." 

Harriger pastored Ashwood Wesleyan Church in Yates in Lyndonville, New York.

Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Wed, 28 Jan 2015 13:30:00 -0500
Jindal’s Practical Solution to Battling Federal Gay Marriage Law

Gov. Bobby Jindal isn't afraid to speak his mind. Last week, he made it clear that radical Islamic terrorists are not going to heaven to be blessed with seven virgins, but straight to hell.

Now, the Christian politician is making a bold statement about how our lawmakers should respond if the Supreme Court rules in favor of gay marriage this summer. The High Court will decide if homosexuals have the constitutional right to marry.

Jindal appeared on George Stephanopoulous' This Week broadcast on Sunday morning. When he asked Jindal if he supported former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's suggestion that states should resist any Supreme Court ruling that paves the way for gay marriage, Jindal's Christianity and practical mind went on display.

"I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. My faith teaches me that, my Christian faith teaches me that," Jindal responded. "If the Supreme Court were to throw out our law, our constitutional amendment—I hope they wouldn't do that—if they were to do that, I certainly will support Ted Cruz and others that are talking about making an amendment in the congress and D.C., a constitutional amendment to allow states to continue to define marriage."

Jennifer LeClaire Featured U.S. News Wed, 28 Jan 2015 13:00:00 -0500
Alabama Chief Justice: Defy Gay Marriage Ruling

 In a move viewed skeptically by legal experts, the socially conservative chief justice of Alabama's Supreme Court on Tuesday encouraged judges in his state to ignore a federal ruling last week striking down its ban on gay marriage. 

Justice Roy Moore, in a letter addressed to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, said Friday's federal ruling, which was put on hold for two weeks and could be superseded by a U.S. Supreme Court decision on gay marriage due by the end of June, violates the state constitution. 

"I am dismayed by those judges in our state who have stated they will recognize and unilaterally enforce a federal court decision which does not bind them," Moore wrote. "I would advise them that the issuance of such licenses would be in defiance of the laws and constitution of Alabama." 

Ronald Krotoszynski, a constitutional law expert at the University of Alabama School of Law, said Moore's words carry little legal weight, as federal constitutional law trumps that of states. 

"There is no credible legal argument that an order from a federal judge with jurisdiction over a matter isn't binding on a state government," he said. 

Moore has long been a lightning rod. In 2000, he gained national attention for installing a Ten Commandments monument in the state's judicial building. He was removed from office three years later after defying a federal order to take it down and was returned to his post by voters in 2012. 

U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade, an appointee of President George W. Bush, whose ruling struck down the state's gay marriage ban as unconstitutional, issued a second ruling on Tuesday awarding a separate Alabama same-sex couple the right to marry. 

Her initial ruling triggered impassioned reactions around Alabama, which overwhelmingly passed a gay marriage ban in 2006. 

State Representative Patricia Todd, a Democrat who is the state's sole gay lawmaker, threatened over the weekend to expose her colleagues' extramarital affairs if they continue to cite "family values" while speaking against the ruling. 

Bentley, a Republican, said in a statement put out after Moore's letter that he supports Alabama's gay marriage ban and will work to uphold it.

 © 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Jonathan Kaminsky/Reuters Featured Politics Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:30:00 -0500
Defying Death, Carman Speaks Out on Hellish Cancer Experience

Carman was on death's door, but he kicked the devil in the teeth just like he said he would and his No Plan B Tour is selling out.

The music legend was diagnosed with cancer in February 2013. He told me in March 2013 that he was going to take a street kid approach to fighting cancer. Some balked at the Italian singer when he declared his cancer would leave in three weeks. But here he is, less than two years later, hitting the road again.

In a Facebook post Carman talked about the difference one year can make.

"I remember so well washing my hair after the third week of chemotherapy and seeing it all come off in my hands in clumps. I remember the agony of that giant needle in my sternum to draw out stem cells," he wrote.

'The ports they planted in my chest to daily inject drugs. The mind-numbing pain of my bones expanding to produce stem cells. Sleeping in the bathroom for days because I'd throw up so often. The dry heaves. The violent stomach cramps. Gaining 15 pounds in 3 days on chemo."

Carman lost 30 pounds in one five-day period because he couldn't hold down a glass of water. He still remembers the claustrophobic two-hour MRIs in that giant plastic tube. He still remembers one winter night catching pneumonia with no immune system and coming within inches of leaving this world. But he also remembers God's grace.

"I remember never getting angry or depressed. Never feeling abandoned or hopeless. It was the valley of the shadow of death but I feared no evil. I remember the commitment I made to my Facebook and Kickstarter supporters be on 100 stages across America in nine months singing the gospel," Carman wrote.

"I remember the belief you all had in me that held my mind together, kept me strong, focused and peaceful. Today I'm strong and cancer-free. I have a full-time trainer and nutritionist Tamara Reeves, keeping me accountable."

Every day, Carman says, he takes a 6-ounce Zeal drink, which is the equivalent of 56 vitamin pills and vows he's energetic and ready to start touring again on Feb. 12.

After defying death, Carman is encouraging others who are facing a health or finance crisis. He urges those facing a health crisis to get to their doctors, call for the prayers of the saints, exercise and eat right.

"God can turn anything around. He can keep you through the worst of times. Restore the years the locusts have eaten away. Give you peace and confidence when everyone else is losing their minds. I've been through it. I know," Carman concluded. "Yes, I do promote a healthy lifestyle. But that health is based on Jesus Christ being at the center of your life. Can I get an 'amen' from somebody who knows this Jesus I'm talking about tonight?"

Jennifer LeClaire Featured U.S. News Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:00:00 -0500
As President, Mike Huckabee Believes God Would Help Him Eliminate This Evil

If Mike Huckabee is elected president in 2016, he says he'll have God's blessing to eliminate the "secular theocracy" that's governing the United States. 

"Our country is in real trouble ... we've divorced ourselves from an understanding that we cannot survive as a republic if we do not become, once again, a God-centered nation that understands our laws do not come from man, they come from God, the natural law of God," Huckabee tells James Robison in Life Today

Robison says the laws ruling our nation are a theocracy, just a "secular" one, and Huckabee agrees. 

"It's humanistic, atheistic, even antagonistic toward Christian faith. And that's what we need to understand," Huckabee says. "Our basic, fundamental rights are being robbed from us, taken from us piece by piece." 

The former Fox News correspondent says that if he were to be elected president, it must be with God's blessing.  

"You know, the only thing worse than not being elected president would be to be elected president without God's blessing," Huckabee says. "I can't think of a worse place in the world to be than in the Oval Office without God's hand upon you. I'd rather not get near the place."

Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Wed, 28 Jan 2015 11:30:00 -0500
The Ugly Truth About 'Fifty Shades of Grey' Movie

National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE) today launched an aggressive national campaign against the controversial film, Fifty Shades of Grey. NCSE's new webpage, highlights 50-plus ways that Fifty Shades harms and provides various actions that the public can take, including signing a boycott petition and joining the #50DollarsNot50Shades campaign, which calls on patrons to forgo the film and donate to women's shelters instead.

"Hollywood is advertising the Fifty Shades story as an erotic love affair, but it is really about sexual abuse and violence against women," said Dawn Hawkins, executive director of National Center on Sexual Exploitation. Hawkins noted that the public sees too much sexual abuse and violence against women in real life and urged Hollywood to take this into consideration when setting the entertainment agenda.

"The porn industry has poised men and women to receive the message that sexual violence is enjoyable. Fifty Shades models this porn message and Hollywood cashes the check," said Hawkins.

The #FiftyShadesIsAbuse site urges patrons to support survivors of abuse and help educate the public on the realities of 'Fifty Shades' relationships.

To learn more, sign the petition and join the #50DollarsNot50Shades campaign, please visit:

Amanda Smith Featured Opinion Wed, 28 Jan 2015 11:00:00 -0500
Why Atheist Persecutors Need Bobby Jindal’s Prayers

Delaware Gov. Jack Markell just declared Feb. 12 "Charles Darwin Day" in his state—just because a member of the Delaware Atheist Meetup group asked him to.  

Nevertheless, no one is persecuting Markell for his godless move. In fact, atheists everywhere are celebrating and at least one is encouraging other governors to make atheistic proclamations in their states.

Atheists love Darwin and his theory of evolution, which claims humans evolved from lower life forms. The problem with that theory, of course, is that it defies Scripture. God created Adam and Eve in His image (see Gen. 2), not Mighty Joe Young and Betsy in the image of the animals Adam named.

Markell proclaimed that "Darwin's Theory of Evolution is the foundation of modern biology, an essential tool in understanding the development of life on earth." I respectfully beg to differ. Darwin's theory of evolution has emerged as a deceptive tool in the hands of determined atheists who spend more time trying to prove God doesn't exist than reading His Word with an open heart.

Crying Out for Revival

Again, no one is persecuting Markell for his godless move. But let former Texas Gov. Rick Perry or Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal pray in the name of Jesus in a public setting and all hell breaks loose. I was at The Response: Baton Rouge this weekend, where thousands of believers from all walks of life and many denominations gathered together to cry out to God on behalf of a nation in crisis.

"Our God is an awesome God, amen!" Jindal declared from a platform inside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on the campus of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. "We're going to plea for Him to send his Spirit, His healing Spirit, a Spirit of revival in this place, all across this state, all across this blessed land."

Born and raised in a Hindu family, Jindal also shared the testimony of how he came to know Jesus Christ as a teenager—on the very campus at which he was then crying out to God for a spiritual revival. It was a touching testimony of the power of sowing gospel seeds in the hearts of those with whom we interact and a strong example of how God works all things according to the counsel of His will (see Eph. 1:11).

Crucifying Jindal

Although disappointing, it's not surprising that Jindal received heaps of criticism for his decision to host a Christian prayer rally. Protestors gathered outside the assembly center to voice their opposition. One protestor told CBN, "He shouldn't be doing it on a state campus. If they want to do that, go somewhere else."

But that was mild compared to what would come next. Right Wing Watch verbally crucified the governor, accusing him of "teaming up with anti-gay extremists and Christian-nation advocates" and "giving them credibility they do not deserve." Slate assumed The Response was "part of the rollout for Jindal's inevitable presidential run." And claimed: "Jindal's 'Response' a No-Go Zone for Atheists, Gays, and Forms of Intelligent Life."

I could go on an on and some of the backlash is much worse than that—for calling people to come together and pray in the name of Jesus. I'm all for free speech and freedom of religion, but it seems some other religions—or the religion-less, secular humanists and atheists—are threatened by Christians who pray in the name of Jesus. That always surprises me, given they don't believe there's any God listening or answering anyway. Atheists should be glad Jindal is praying. I pray that God will encounter the hearts of atheists in an unprecedented way this year.

I think Jindal said it best when he told CBN: "You've got a group of Christians who say we want to pay money to rent a hall on LSU's campus so we can come together and pray. Do we really live in a society where that's controversial?" Unfortunately, in an age where antichrist spirits are rising, I guess we do.

Jennifer LeClaire is senior editor of Charisma. She is also director of Awakening House of Prayer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and author of several books, including The Making of a Prophet and Satan's Deadly Trio: Defeating the Deceptions of Jezebel, Religion and Witchcraft. You can visit her website here. You can also join Jennifer on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Jennifer LeClaire Featured Watchman on the Wall Opinion Wed, 28 Jan 2015 10:30:00 -0500
Atlanta Mayor: Christian Ex-Fire Chief's Reputation Will Be Destroyed

Former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran says he was fired because he wrote a book expressing his Christian faith, according to a discrimination complaint filed Jan. 19 with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

"I believe that I have been discriminated against because of my religion," Cochran wrote in the complaint.

His attorney, Jeremy Tedesco of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith, said the ADA wants to vindicate the former fire chief following his "unjust termination."

"Americans are guaranteed the freedom to live without fear of losing their jobs because of their beliefs and thoughts," Tedesco said.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed threatened that the former fire chief's reputation would be destroyed should he file a lawsuit.

"He's gonna lose," Reed told television station WAGA. "And in the process his reputation is going to be destroyed because people are going to see he's dishonest."

The EEOC complaint is the latest move in a battle between Cochran and Reed that has generated a national debate over religious liberty in the public marketplace since it began in November. 

Cochran was suspended without pay on Nov. 24 for writing a book about biblical morality, Who Told You That You Were Naked? He said homosexuality is "vile" and listed it among other forms of "sexual perversions."

He was also accused of giving the book to colleagues at work with whom he had personal friendships.

An investigation by the city of Atlanta found that "firefighters throughout the organization are appalled by the sentiments expressed in the book."

The report went on to say that "there is also general agreement the contents of the book have eroded trust and have compromised the ability of the chief to provide leadership in the future."

But the investigation found no evidence of discrimination against LGBT firefighters.

"There is currently no indication that Chief Cochran allowed his religious beliefs to compromise his disciplinary decisions," the report states. "No interviewed witness could point to a specific instance in which any member of the organization has been treated unfairly by Chief Cochran on the basis of his religious beliefs."

Cochran was cleared of any wrongdoing. But on Jan. 6—the day he was supposed to return to work—he was fired.

The mayor denied that Cochran's faith had anything to do with his dismissal. Instead, he said it was lack of judgment and management skills. He also said Cochran violated the city's code of conduct.

Folks, this was nothing short of an old-fashioned witch hunt led by the mayor, LGBT activists and the city's left-wing firefighter's union.

According to the city's investigation, they interviewed a retired lesbian battalion chief who harbored "suspicions" about Cochran's Christian faith.

"She stated that she took a voluntary demotion because of these suspicions," the report states.

What a load of fertilizer.

The Atlanta Professional Firefighters Local 134 piled on, commending the mayor for firing the Christian fire chief.

"Local 134 supports LGBT rights and equality among all employees," the union said in a statement, urging the city to "improve LGBT rights by adding an LGBT liaison for the fire department."

Now, the leadership of Local 134 is either ignorant or illiterate—because the official investigation clearly shows the fire chief never discriminated against LGBT firefighters.

The New York Times editorial board said it doesn't matter if Chief Cochran was innocent. That's not the point, it wrote Tuesday in a scathing editorial titled "God, Gays and the Atlanta Fire Department."

"It should not matter that the investigation found no evidence that Mr. Cochran had mistreated gays or lesbians," the Times wrote. "His position as a high-level public servant makes his remarks especially problematic, and requires that he be held to a different standard."

The mayor may have the LGBT activists, the union and The New York Times on his side—but Chief Cochran has some much bigger firepower—the nation's evangelical community.

Leading the charge is Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Graham told me he's known Cochran for years—and found him to be a decent and honorable man.

He said Cochran has become the latest victim of a national cleansing of Christians in the public marketplace.

"We need to stand up with Chief Cochran and others when they are persecuted," Graham told me. "This man is being persecuted because he believes the Bible."

Robert White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, called The New York Times editorial "quite remarkable."

"It declares his innocence and then declares him guilty," he said. "Guilty of what? He didn't discriminate against any homosexuals. He vowed that he wanted to have a healthy workplace for all of his employees."

The Times went on to argue that while Cochran is free to believe whatever he wants, there are limits to where he can believe and still maintain gainful employment in the public arena.

If I didn't know better, I'd say The New York Times is suggesting a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for public workers who happen to be Christian.


Todd Starnes is host of "Fox News & Commentary," heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is God Less America. This column originally appeared on

Todd Starnes Featured American Dispatch Opinion Wed, 28 Jan 2015 10:00:00 -0500
Mainstream Media Ignore Flatly Pivotal Event in Modern Christian History

Liberty Counsel joins Media Research Center and other leading pro-life organizations to chastise the networks for ignoring the 2015 March for Life.

The network media snubbed hundreds of thousands of participants who journeyed to Washington, D.C., to mark the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. NBC and ABC completely ignored the March, and CBS dedicated 15 seconds. In recent days, bashing police officers and deflating footballs have garnered media coverage, but when hundreds of thousands of people peacefully stand up for the most vulnerable in our society, mainstream television coverage was invisible.

Mat Staver responds, "The intentional refusal to report on hundreds of thousands of people—dominated by youth—standing for life in our nation's Capital is irresponsible. While the media turned a blind eye, the tidal wave of life will one day wash away the bloodshed of our children."

Liberty Counsel Featured U.S. News Wed, 28 Jan 2015 10:00:00 -0500
Obama Addresses Those Who Question His Faith in Christ

While touring a country that's dealing with religious cleansing, U.S. President Barack Obama revealed what strengthens him—his Christianity.  

"In our lives, Michelle and I have been strengthened by our Christian faith," Obama said, according to ABC News. "Still, as you may know, my faith has at times been questioned—by people who don't know me—or they've said that I adhere to a different religion, as if that were somehow a bad thing."  

"He has a serious practice of faith even though he doesn't necessarily wear it on his sleeve," former White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Joshua DuBois told the New York Times.  

The president made the comments during his second tour of India, which included a visit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He warned Nodi that religious persecution could splinter the country

Modi has come under fire since his election in 2014 for reportedly forcing Muslims and Christians to convert to Hinduism. The Washington Post reports Indian Christians are fearful of violence now that Modi is at the helm.  

"Every person has the right to practice their faith how they choose, or to practice no faith at all, and to do so free from persecution and fear," Obama told Modi during his tour, according to Yahoo! News.  

The Obama family has faced heat when it comes to their personal faith. The president has been accused many times of being a Muslim, as well as faced scandals involving his former pastor Jeremiah Wright.  

"I would argue that Obama's faith has been one of the most misunderstood of any president out there," Gary Scott Smith told the New York Times. Smith is the author of Faith and the Presidency: From George Washington to George W. Bush.

Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Wed, 28 Jan 2015 09:30:00 -0500
Islamic State Militants Take 20 Christians Hostage

The kidnapping of at least 20 Coptic Christians in two separate incidents in December and January has been claimed by Libyan militants affiliated with the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

Seven of the Christians were abducted on Dec. 29 while driving by car back to Egypt from the coastal city of Sirte, currently under the control of the Libya Dawn alliance of Islamist militants. Another 13 Copts were seized Jan. 3 in Sirte by armed men who raided the building where they lived. The attackers checked the men's Egyptian I.D. papers, taking hostage those who were Christians and letting the Muslims go free.

"We were afraid to go out because we might be targeted," said Mila Ishak, 27, who had been living in the same housing compound in Sirte as the kidnap victims. At about 2:30 AM on Jan. 3, he told World Watch Monitor, he received a cellphone call from a friend who occupied a room in an adjacent building.


The friend, Ishak said, "called me again and with fear and a low voice, told me that they were able to break the door of the room beside his room, and had abducted all their six friends who were inside the room." Ishak said the intruders tried to break into the room from which his friend was calling, but gave up and left.

Then the intruders entered the building where Ishak lived. He said he heard one of them command another resident of the building, who was up at that hour, to "show them the rooms of the Christians in the building," and to rouse the men sleeping inside. The man pounded on the door where seven men, all Christians, were sleeping.

"I was hearing everything," Ishak said. "One of the seven residents of the room ... awoke and opened the iron door of the room. They entered the room and abducted all of them too."

Next, he said, came the pounding on the door to his own room. But as there were only three pairs of shoes outside his door, compared to the seven pairs outside the first room, one of the intruders said "leave them. That is enough. Let's go."

Ishak said he and 10 others paid a Libyan smuggler to get them back into Egypt on Jan. 5.

Still alive

Photos of all 20 kidnapped Copts were posted on an official IS website on Jan. 12. Their faces have all been identified by relatives in their home villages in Upper Egypt's Minya province. None of the families have been contacted by the kidnappers. Although Egyptian officials say they are communicating with the Libyan authorities, the government has only confirmed that the men are still alive.

Several relatives of the kidnapped men told World Watch Monitor their pleas to Egyptian authorities have gone nowhere.

"Two weeks (have) passed since the time of their abduction and the foreign ministry hasn't done anything to help us," said Hany Adly, whose brother, Gaber, was among the seven men abducted Dec. 29. "We haven't seen any positive step from them."

As many as 1.5 million Egyptian workers remain caught in the chaotic fighting between warring factions in Libya, where an internationally recognized government in Tobruk in the east is locked in conflict with a rival government in Tripoli in the west. On Jan. 25, the Ansar al-Sharia group based in eastern Libya confirmed the death of its leader, Mohammad al-Zahawi, injured last October while battling government troops in Bengazi. Militias allied with Tripoli accuse Egypt of supporting the Tobruk side, although Cairo denies military involvement.

But Egypt's Coptic Christians have been particularly targeted recently. On Dec. 23, two Coptic doctors in Sirte were shot to death in their home in front of their two small children. Their teenage daughter's bullet-riddled body was found in the desert several days later.

Barbara G. Baker Featured World News Wed, 28 Jan 2015 08:00:00 -0500
Where Does ISIS Fit Into Bible Prophecy?

The struggle against ISIS is the latest in what seems like a never-ending war on terror that has cost trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. How should followers of Christ respond to this new threat?

In the face of mounting uncertainty in the Middle East, Christians can rise above the fray and shine as bright lights against the threat of ISIS, say Dr. Charles Dyer and Pastor Mark Tobey, authors of The ISIS Crisis: What You Really Need to Know (Moody Publishers).

That threat is real, the authors emphasize. Drawing from history, current events and biblical prophecy, they help readers make sense of the multifaceted and often confusing history of conflicts in the Middle East and trace the roots of this terrorist group.

However, they caution, ISIS thrives on its ability to create immense levels of fear and confusion. Such responses can lead to prejudice, paranoia or even paralysis. None of these responses are fitting for representatives of The Prince of Peace.

"Too many Christians respond in the same way to situations like ISIS, the Ebola outbreak, an economy in a tailspin or any other trial that feels completely out of control," they add. "When the ground begins to move under our feet, fear tempts us to cut and run."

The alternative? Trust in the sovereign control of God and in His perfect justice: "God is the only perfect, righteous Judge of all the earth. He knows everyone's motives and actions, and He will ultimately give each person what he or she deserves. This includes ultimate justice for members of ISIS. The wicked, the ruthless and those who love violence will face a certain and dreadful judgment."

Ultimately, Dyer and Tobey say, our hope will not be found in military might or super-sophisticated counterintelligence, but in the eternal Word of God. And in His Word, God has revealed a strategy for how Christians can face the real enemy at work in the world.

"ISIS isn't the real enemy," they emphasize. "But driven by the real enemy's power, this group has the darkest and most evil intentions. Furthermore, ISIS represents a collection of lost individuals who have been deluded into believing a lie. Satan's power of delusion, coupled with humanity's own corrupt nature, makes everyone capable of committing the worst atrocities imaginable."

And what does God's Word reveal about how ISIS fits in the prophetic timeline? "The best answer seems to be that it doesn't," the authors explain. "ISIS might not survive, but later a far more powerful, and deadly, coalition will eclipse it. The prophet Ezekiel describes a time when that coalition will launch an attack against Israel. Another army will someday surge across the Middle East. They won't be carrying the black flags of ISIS, but their intent will be just as evil and destructive."

World events suggest this time may be approaching, they conclude: "When world events mirror the events described in the Bible, the beginning of the end could be near." 

Janis Backing Featured Opinion Wed, 28 Jan 2015 07:00:00 -0500
FIRM Conference Aims to Pierce Hearts of Youth for Israel

For various reasons, the typical audience at pro-Israel rallies and conferences have tended to consist of white, anglo-saxon gray-hairs who have long supported the Jewish state. Millennials, especially high school students, are a rare commodity at such events.

The recently formed Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries (FIRM) has set out to change all of that, beginning with the ministry's launch at the Israel Summit at Resurrection Fellowship Church in Loveland, Colorado, on Feb. 4-6.

More than 500 high school students, along with approximately 90 students from Youth With a Mission (YWAM) are expected to attend the three-day conference. With anti-Semitism spreading worldwide at an alarming rate, FIRM Co-Founder Wayne Hilsden says reaching young people with the biblical truth of Israel has become crucial.

"The whole aura or image of the gathering is going to be very young, with young people even emceeing the sessions," says Hilsden, the senior pastor at King of Kings Community Jerusalem in Israel. "Our conference is especially geared toward younger believers.

"We will be pointing these young people to existing ministries—such as International Christian Embassy, Eagles' Wings, Jewish Voice Ministries International and Chosen People Ministries—that also have a focus on young people and are young adult driven."

Speakers during the three-day event including Pastor Jack Hayford, Jewish Voice Ministries International's Jonathan Bernis, Michael Brown, George Morrison, Sandra Teplinsky and Calev Myers. Worship will be conducted by Paul Wilbur, Jamie Hilsden, Kelanie Gloeckler and Kaitlyn Scott.

FIRM's vision is multi-faceted. The ministry hopes to not only awaken in the people of Israel a desire to know a mutual Messiah, but also to awaken the body of believers to "tap into the nourishment of the olive root from which we have sprung, to reverse the erosion of our common Judeo-Christian values and to experience blessing promised to those who bless God's chosen people."

"This is a message to our students that your time has come," said Tomas Sandell, a FIRM board member and the president of the European Coalition of Israel. "This is so important for our youth because there has been a tendency in the body of Christ to reduce the narrative on Israel. It's our fault that this generation is missing the message completely. We need to get our hands dirty and really be in the thick of it. We need to appeal to a new generation of believers."

FIRM has been spreading the word about the conference for approximately six weeks, and more than 1,200 people have registered in addition to the high school and YWAM students who will attend. Resurrection Fellowship seats 1,400, so Hilsden says FIRM officials have been debating about whether to seek a larger venue for the event. Registrations are still being accepted.

"Frankly, if we had formed FIRM a year ago, we would have expected these types of numbers," Hilsden said. "But FIRM is a new initiative. The response has been absolutely overwhelming."

FIRM's website will go live on the conference's first night, simply visit this address: The Christian Broadcasting Network is sending a crew to cover the event as well.

FIRM officials don't expect the Israel Summit to go off without opposition. Charles E. Carlson, a self-proclaimed "pro-peace" activist and founder of an organization called We Hold These Truths, penned a letter to FIRM board member and Resurrection Fellowship Lead Pastor Jonathan Wiggins on Jan. 16 to inform him that he and others will "hold a vigil for peace, life and justice" during the three-day event at Resurrection Fellowship.

Carlson, who refers to Israel as a war-maker, told Wiggins that the demonstration would be "orderly and legal, and the police would be notified of each appearance."

"We will stand FIRM in the face of people who don't share our views," Wiggins said. "But we will also have bottles of water for them, granola bars and other things. We may even bring out a heater to make them more comfortable. I want our young people to see the way we believe Jesus would treat these people. The Bible says that perfect love casts out fear, and we want these people to know that we love you and that Jesus died for you too."

Shawn A. Akers Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Wed, 28 Jan 2015 07:00:00 -0500
Dutch Sheets Tells Story Behind the Appeal to Heaven Flag

Within the Christian circles of which you and I are a part, you may have seen someone waving a white flag displaying an evergreen tree beneath the phrase, "An Appeal to Heaven."  As of late, this banner has made its way into countless prayer gatherings, prayer rooms, political rallies and government buildings. The Appeal to Heaven flag holds great significance as it relates to the founding of our nation, God's eternal covenants, and our present hope for America.

The first time I saw this flag was at the 2013 Spring Commencement Ceremony of Christ for the Nations Institute, where I formerly served as Executive Director.  I invited one of my spiritual sons to serve as commencement speaker.  He is a Captain in the United States Army and had just returned from serving as the legal adviser to a Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan.  

He served with Army Green Berets and Navy Seals —some of the best-trained units in the world!  The Captain delivered a powerfully challenging message to the graduates, but toward the end of his speech, he wanted to make a special presentation to "Papa Dutch", as he sometimes calls me.  To be honest, I was a little uncomfortable with this idea because I did not want the focus to be off of the graduates and on me. However, honored by my spiritual son's kind intention and trusting his heart, I allowed the presentation to continue.

He briefly shared some history regarding the flag he was about to give me. It was quite significant as it had flown over our nation at its birthing. It was not the stars and stripes, but a flag commissioned by our first president, George Washington, before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.  

In fact, before the Revolutionary War actually began, General Washington formed and financed America's first Navy and commissioned them to sail with this flag flying overhead. During the American Revolution, an evergreen tree on a white standard could be seen flying in Massachusetts and before long, throughout all thirteen colonies. 

 The words "An Appeal to Heaven" became the decreed statement over the nation as this flag flew amid battlefields and encampments. This standard led the American Revolution's grossly outnumbered and under-resourced troops into battle repeatedly as they fought and won the war for America's freedom. The flag's history is expansive and profound.

As this Army Captain unfurled the flag, I felt the presence of the Lord come on me very strongly.  Though I was seeing this flag for the first time, it confirmed and amplified a revelation God began giving me over a decade ago.  I sensed it's weighty significance.

Little did I know, however, this flag would also represent God's next great assignment for my life, searing upon my heart the same cry He birthed within the hearts of the Revolutionaries at the founding of our great nation.

Over the next few months I will share this story; a prophetic journey that continues to unfold. It is nothing less than a living proclamation of God's everlasting promises, His destiny for us, and His hope for America.

Join us each week as we journey to An Appeal to Heaven.

Dutch Sheets is an internationally recognized teacher, conference speaker and author of The Power of Hope. He has written more than 20 books, translated into over 30 languages. His first work, Intercessory Prayer, sold nearly a million copies and is being used to empower believers worldwide for passionate prayer and societal transformation. He and his wife, Ceci, make their home in the Dallas area.

Dutch Sheets Featured Opinion Wed, 28 Jan 2015 06:00:00 -0500
7 Homeschoolers Seized to 'Protect' Them From Parents

Seven homeschooled kids remain in state custody after being seized from their home earlier this month.  

Police raided the Stanley home in Hot Springs, Arkansas, after an anonymous caller told police the Stanley children were running barefoot in the snow, according to Yahoo! News. When police arrived, they reportedly discovered a mineral supplement not approved by the FDA and then "stole" the children.  

"The DHS has come and stolen our kids from us under the guise of 'protecting our children,'" Mother Michelle Stanley wrote in an email posted at Health Impact News

Now hearings will determine if the Stanley children may be returned to their parents. Until a decision is reached in mid-February, children will remain in foster care. 

"Our whole lives have been turned upside down," Hal Stanley told the Washington Post. "Our children are traumatized." 

The family attorney told KATV the judge had probable cause to keep the children in custody.  

Department of Human Services Public Information Coordinator Kate Luck expanded upon it a bit further.

"If the judge determines that the children cannot remain safely in the home, he has 30 days to set up an adjudication hearing. At that point both sides will bring all of the evidence that they have and we will make a further determination on what we will do with the children," Luck said told KATV. 

The reason given in court is the mineral substance—Miracle Mineral Solution/Master Mineral Solution, or MMS. According to the Post, it's not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but it's readily available on online health sites. The FDA did issue a warning in 2010, advising consumers to throw the supplement away immediately, as it can turn into "potent bleach." 

KATV says DHS wouldn't seize the children based solely on the presence of MMS.  

"(The children's removal) could mean that the home is unfit, it could mean that the environment is not a good environment, that there's dirt everywhere, it could mean that. It could also mean the children cannot safely remain there. It may be that the parents have done something to make the environment unsafe," Luck told KATV.

Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Tue, 27 Jan 2015 16:42:20 -0500
WATCH: 'Men of Issachar' Prepare to Run for Political Office

Watch The Brody File report from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as the crew reports exclusively on a private pastors training meeting as many get set to run for political office.

It's the Lord's army at work. The experience was called the Issachar Training Event arranged by the American Renewal Project. The men of Issachar are mentioned in the Bible. They were, "men who understood the times" (1 Chr. 12:32). The Brody File has this behind-the-scenes look.

This is the beginning stage of what very well could be a turning point in American politics. Included in this report is part of my interview with political operative/influential evangelical David Lane. Lane's goal is to get 1,000 pastors to run for some sort of political office in 2016. He's well on his way with this event.

David Brody/CBN Featured Opinion Tue, 27 Jan 2015 15:30:00 -0500
Mormon Church Comes Out in Support of Gay Rights

The Mormon church on Tuesday announced its support for laws protecting the rights of gay individuals - as long as religious freedoms are not compromised - a rare conciliatory move toward a community with whom it has long been at odds. 

Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said at a news conference in Salt Lake City they were taking a "fairness for all" approach that would balance religious freedom with safeguards for gays and lesbians in terms of housing, employment and other rights. 

But the church stopped short of supporting same-sex marriage, a key right sought by gay activists that is already legal in 36 states. 

"We believe laws ought to be framed to achieve a balance in protecting the freedoms of all people while respecting those with differing values," church elder Dallin Oaks told the news conference in remarks posted on the church's website. 

"We reject persecution and retaliation of any kind, including persecution based on race, ethnicity, religious belief, economic circumstances or differences in gender or sexual orientation," Oaks said. 

As public opinion has shifted recently in favor of gay rights across the country, the Mormon church has come under fire for resisting such moves.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Peg McEntee and Dan Whitcomb/Reuters Featured U.S. News Tue, 27 Jan 2015 14:37:33 -0500
Obama Reportedly Behind Anti-Netanyahu Campaign

U.S. President Barack Obama may be done with American elections, but some of his former advisers are running a campaign against Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu through certain partnerships. 

OneVoice includes a "five-man Obama team," with Obama's former field director Jeremy Bird. The OneVoice campaign is using American money and names to support Victory 2015, which supports Palestinian statehood, according to Haaretz.  

"We believe that it's critical that the majority of Israelis who are concerned about the numerous security and socioeconomic challenges we face have their voices heard in the next election," says Polly Bronstein, OneVoice Israel's executive director

That's where Bird comes in. Haaretz calls Bird—a founding partner of 270 Strategies, which focuses on grass-roots campaigns and played a role in Obama's 2012 re-election—the secret weapon to this campaign.  

"It's not right to do in Israel exactly what we did in the United States, the context is completely different," Bird tells Haaretz, yet the goal of a grass-roots movement to stimulate change remains the same.  

"In Israel, OneVoice is spearheading nationwide initiatives to build a broad coalition of those who share our vision—across civil society, the private sector, the Knesset and the governing coalition. As the co-founder of the largest cross-party caucus in the Knesset, OneVoice Israel is linking civil society directly to their elected officials to hold them to account," according to their website

The revelation comes as Obama and Netanyahu's strained relationship makes international headlines.  

According to an editorial in the Times of Israel, their fractured relationship is now an open conflict

An Obama administration official spoke to CNN, confirming the president is sore after Netanyahu announced he was coming to Washington in advance of Israel's March elections.

"The last thing we want to do is hurt Israel, but if he is able to stiff the U.S. President like that and we still offer him a meeting—that invites him and anyone else to do that over and over," the official told CNN.

Jessilyn Justice Featured World News Tue, 27 Jan 2015 14:35:09 -0500
Auschwitz's Last Survivors Speak Out 70 Years After Hitler's Reign of Terror

Around 300 survivors of the Auschwitz death camp were gathering on Tuesday to mark 70 years since its liberation by Soviet troops, joined by world leaders for a commemoration held in the shadow of war in Ukraine and a rise in anti-Semitism in Europe. 

Tuesday's gathering in southern Poland marks perhaps the last major anniversary that survivors of the Nazi German camp will be able to attend in numbers, given the youngest are now in their 70s. Some 1,500 attended the 60th anniversary. 

Around 1.5 million people, mainly European Jews, were gassed, shot, hanged and burned at the camp in southern Poland during World War Two, before the Red Army entered its gates in winter 1945. It has become probably the most poignant symbol of a Holocaust that claimed six million Jewish lives across Europe. 

The presidents of Poland, Germany, France and Ukraine are expected among hundreds of dignitaries. Notable for his absence will be Vladimir Putin, whose military intervention in Ukraine has helped drive West-Russia relations to their lowest ebb since the Cold War. 

Poland has been one of the most vociferous critics of Russia's March annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and its support for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. 

Wary of the domestic political consequences, Poland did not send a full diplomatic invitation to Putin, sources have told Reuters. 

"There is a war going on in east Ukraine," Polish Justice Minister Cezary Grabarcyk told Polish ZET radio. 

"It would be hard to imagine, in this situation, hosting Russia's president. Albeit informally, Russia is taking part in this conflict." 

NATO says Russia has sent men and armor to aid the separatists. Putin denies this, but risks new sanctions when European Union foreign ministers meet on Thursday. 


Russia will be represented at the commemoration by Putin's chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov. Putin sent a message extolling the role of the Red Army in ending the Holocaust, saying it had "saved not just the Jewish people but also other peoples of Europe and the world."

 France's Francois Hollande makes the trip less than three weeks after Islamist gunmen killed 17 people in Paris in attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly newspaper and a kosher supermarket. 

Four French Jews were among the dead, the latest victims of a recent spate of armed attacks on Jews in Europe. 

European Jews warn of a growing under-current of anti-Semitism, fueled by anger at Israeli policy in the Middle East and social tensions over issues of immigration, inequality and economic hardship that have contributed to a rise of far-right political movements, notably the grass-roots PEGIDA movement in Germany. 

On the eve of the anniversary, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germans had an everlasting responsibility to fight all forms of anti-Semitism and racism. 

"We've got to constantly be on guard to protect our freedom, democracy and the rule of law," Merkel said. "We've got to expose those who promote prejudices and conjure up bogeymen, the old ones as well as the new." 

The camp's victims also included, among others, Roma, homosexuals and political opponents of the Nazis. 

David Wisnia, an 88-year-old survivor of Auschwitz, said on Monday the Holocaust was "almost impossible for a human mind to comprehend." A choir boy as a child at Warsaw's Great Synagogue, which was blown up by Nazi forces in 1943, Wisnia will sing a memorial prayer in Hebrew on Tuesday. 

"I pray to God that we as human beings are able to learn something from it," he said.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Wiktor Szary and Wojciech Zurawski/Reuters Featured World News Tue, 27 Jan 2015 12:36:33 -0500
WATCH: Elderly Grandma Rescues Disabled Man From Fiery Death
Call it a (grand)motherly instinct, but this woman is a hero for her quick thinking and bravery. When a disabled man was stuck in a burning van, Rosemary Carrea knew she had to act.
"All I knew was that I needed to get him out of the van," Carrea says.
Watch what happens next. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured World News Tue, 27 Jan 2015 12:24:14 -0500
Brave Preschooler Saves Life of Mommy (and Unborn Baby Brother)

When her epileptic mother collapsed, 4-year-old Calise Manning knew it was not a drill. 

"I told you I was going to take care of you," Centerria Manning says her daughter told her. 

Without hesitation, the little girl called 9-1-1, telling operators exactly what they needed to know—and some additional information.  

Watch the video to see this precious family. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured U.S. News Tue, 27 Jan 2015 09:21:48 -0500
WATCH: Ancient End-Times Bible Prophecy Rapidly Unfolding

As world events unfold, CBN Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell's book, Destination Jerusalem, aims to put today's events in perspective.

Mitchell chronicles firsthand the meteoric rise of the Islamic State (ISIS), the growing persecution of Christians, the minimal response by the West and much of the Church, as well as the part Jerusalem plays in the scenario. 

As prophecy unfolds before our eyes, Dateline Jerusalem points to how Christians can prepare for the days ahead.

CBN News Featured Opinion Tue, 27 Jan 2015 08:58:33 -0500
Christine Caine: We Have Thrust Women Into the Marketplace Like Lambs to the Slaughter

Christine Caine, most known for her work in fighting human trafficking, launched her new movement, Propel Women, during Monday's Convocation at Liberty University.

The nationwide movement is designed to help women in the marketplace learn how to interconnect their faith with their work, church and home life. Caine's visit was part of a weeklong launch at Liberty, which includes panels, seminars, and special guest speakers. Carl Lentz, pastor of Hillsong (New York), will address students in Wednesday's Convocation and best-selling author Beth Moore will speak in Friday's Convocation.

Last fall, Caine told Christianity Today that she chose Liberty as the site to launch Propel. She described Propel as a training program that will feature inspirational videos, industry-specific articles, mentorship pipelines and urban events to encourage Christian women leaders in the workforce.

Caine and her husband, Nick, founded The A21 Campaign in 2008. A21 was given the global 2012 Hero of Human Trafficking Award. They also lead Equip & Empower Ministries and are members of the leadership team at Hillsong Church in her native Sydney, Australia. She has written five books.

Before Caine took the Convocation stage on Monday, alumna ('05) Meredith Andrews led students in worship, along with the Liberty Campus Band.

Caine told students that throughout the week she wants them to learn that they are empowered by God to do what He has told them to do, which is to go into this entire world to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

"I feel at home at Liberty, and I am so grateful to be here because there is nowhere else on earth that I would rather be launching Propel," she said.

She added that in the 20th century, women—who for centuries only had the duty of a homemaker—were propelled into the workplace with very little guidance.

"We have thrust women into the marketplace like lambs to the slaughter because we have left them to secular feminists to educate, to train and to equip them to somehow navigate this world, which up until the 20th century was mostly a man's world."

She said she had the idea for Propel last June when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Before her surgery that same month, she recalled asking the Lord if she did everything He put her on this planet to do, and if she was bringing everybody home that she was supposed to bring home with her.

"Life is too short to blow on my ego, on stupid secondary discussions and debates that do not matter in light of eternity, and it is too short to be full of pride and selfish ambition," she said. "We need to be a generation of young people that say we are obsessed with one thing, which is making Jesus's last commandment our first priority."

Caine told students that they need to be a generation of men and women that will bear witness to the truth of the gospel in the marketplace.

"We need to reclaim godly leadership qualities, not arrogant and selfish qualities, and we need to pursue godly ambition, not selfish ambition," she said. "We need to come to the table as men and women in mutual respect and love and understand that we are equal in God's eyes."

Caine concluded by challenging students to pray for each other during this launch week.

"We want this world to know we are His disciples by the true love we have for one another," she said. "God is going to show us this week how we can make a difference in our own world."

Melissa Skinner/Liberty University Featured U.S. News Tue, 27 Jan 2015 08:42:06 -0500
Battle Still Rages for Churches That Want to Meet in NYC Schools

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court Monday that answers New York City's arguments against high court scrutiny of its 20-year-old quest to ban worship services in empty public school buildings. In September of last year, ADF asked the high court to review a 2-1 ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit that upheld a city policy prohibiting worship services in public school buildings during non-school hours. The panel's ruling is on hold until the Supreme Court decides whether to take the case.

"In New York City, any community group can meet in vacant school buildings for any purpose except for religious groups meeting to worship God. The city's arguments in defense of this policy cannot withstand constitutional scrutiny," said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. "Evicting churches and the help they offer the people in their communities through their worship services in otherwise empty buildings on weekends helps no one. Violating the First Amendment, as New York City is doing, hurts everyone. For that reason, we hope the U.S. Supreme Court will agree to hear this important case."

The panel's ruling in Bronx Household of Faith v. Board of Education of the City of New York said that the city can single out for exclusion what it defines as "religious worship services." The New York City Department of Education has defended this policy, known as Regulation I.Q., in court on and off since 1995 even though the department allows other community groups to rent space for their meetings.

"The Department did not need to open its facilities for after-hours nongovernmental uses, but it did. Now it must abide by constitutional rules forbidding express discrimination against religious expression and practices in otherwise permissible uses," the ADF reply brief explains.

"Conspicuously absent from [the city's] opposition is any attempt to describe how Reg. I.Q. survives the baseline free exercise [of religion] test announced ... and affirmed in [two previous Supreme Court decisions]," the brief states. "This is not surprising because a government policy like Reg. I.Q., which singles out expressive conduct undertaken for religious reasons for exclusion from a public forum is not neutral or generally applicable and cannot be justified by an unfounded fear of violating the Establishment Clause."

"Churches meeting in New York City public schools for worship services have fed the poor and needy, assisted in rehabilitating drug addicts and gang members, helped rebuild marriages and families and provided for the disabled," said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman. "The churches have also helped the public schools themselves by volunteering to paint the interiors of inner-city schools; donating computers, musical instruments and air conditioners; and providing effective after-school programs to help all students with their studies. We hope the Supreme Court will allow them to continue being a true benefit to the communities they love to serve."

The Supreme Court is expected to consider the ADF petition at its Feb. 20 conference.

Alliance Defending Freedom Featured U.S. News Tue, 27 Jan 2015 08:32:51 -0500
Man Vindicated in Controversial 'Mark of the Beast' Case

A man who believed his company's time-keeping scanners were the Mark of the Beast has won a lawsuit for forced early retirement. 

In a hearing this week, the jury in Clarksburg, West Virginia, awarded Beverly Butcher $150,000 in compensatory damages, ruling he was forced to retire for his religious beliefs.  

Butcher worked at Consol Energy in West Virginia until he complained Consul's biometric scans for time and attendance violated his Christian beliefs, according to the Associated Press.  

The Exponent Telegram reports Butcher wrote to his employers, asking to be exempt from scanning his left hand. 

A letter in the lawsuit "discussed the vendor's interpretation of Chapter 13, Verse 16 of the Book of Revelation contained in the Bible; pointed out that the text of that verse references the Mark of the Beast only on the right hand and forehead; and suggests that persons with concerns about taking the Mark of the Beast 'be enrolled' (meaning, use the hand scanner) with their left hand and palm facing up. The letter concludes by assuring the reader that the vendor's scanner product does not, in fact, assign the Mark of the Beast," according to The Exponent Telegram. 

When the company refused to compromise with Butcher, he was forced into early retirement. 

The jury found Butcher had sincere religious beliefs and had properly informed his employer. 

The $150,000 is for salary, pension and court costs.

Jessilyn Justice Featured World News Tue, 27 Jan 2015 08:26:16 -0500
Saeed Abedeni Reports Increasing Pain in Iranian Prison

This has been a week of progress in American Pastor Saeed's case—a U.S. citizen wrongfully imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith—but his pain and injuries remain an increasing concern.

On the same day that Pastor Saeed's wife and young children were able to meet with President Obama in Pastor Saeed's hometown here in the U.S., a member of his family in Iran was able to visit Pastor Saeed in prison—Saeed's first visitor in more than a month.

Pastor Saeed's stomach pain—lingering injuries from prison beatings—remains a concern. Pastor Saeed expressed increased amounts of pain. He has still not received the critical medical attention he needs in a private hospital. He needs surgery.

But most of all, he needs to be brought home.

While his family in Iran is grateful to have the opportunity to once again resume regular visits, it is difficult to see Pastor Saeed continue to suffer.

Despite his injuries, Pastor Saeed continues to remain upbeat and hopeful, asking for news of his wife and kids. Saeed's family member was also able to share with him encouraging stories of people praying and supporting him all over the world.

I am sure it will be an encouragement to him that the president of the United States took the time to meet with his family. We don't know if Pastor Saeed has yet heard the news, but it is being reported in the Persian media. We hope to have more updates next week as to Pastor Saeed's condition and perhaps his reaction to the meeting between President Obama and his family.

This week represents a critical step toward his freedom. Now we will continue to press forward and work with the Obama Administration to bring this loving husband and father—this tormented U.S. citizen—home to America.

Please continue to pray, share Pastor Saeed's story, and sign the petition for Pastor Saeed's freedom at

ACLJ Featured World News Tue, 27 Jan 2015 09:00:00 -0500
The Idol of Secularism Must be Toppled

The secular U.S. Supreme Court invented their own theology and religion in 1963, in an 8-1 decision, which unleashed on America a malignant, evil religion: Secularism. It has borne much fruit:

"The distinctiveness of marriage has been abolished (Baird v. Eisenstadt); prayer and Bible reading in schools has been stamped out (Abington, Schemp, et al.); the mother's womb has become the most dangerous place for a baby (Roe v. Wade, et al.); the rights (but not the duties) of fathers and parents of minor girls have been voided (Planned Parenthood v. Danforth); divorce has become easier than marrying; the Ten Commandments have been banned from public view; and now the natural distinction between male and female is being abolished (Goodridge, Lawrence, etc.). The Pledge of Allegiance is forbidden; the Boy Scouts are under attack; and Christmas carols are banned. Pornography is everywhere."

Even lone dissenter Justice Potter Stewart foresaw the reality on that awful day: "[The decision] led not to true neutrality with respect to religion, but to the establishment of a religion of secularism." 

This struggle for the soul of America is merely the ongoing battle since the beginning of time, "man says" or "God says." God has said multiple times over thousands of years that homosexuality is wickedness* -- just like stealing or committing adultery, it is sin—but to double-down the U.S. Supreme Court, in its omniscience, sanctioned and legitimized homosexual marriage in 2014 as a diverse and acceptable lifestyle, well inside the cultural norm.

Bucking 500 years of established law, the U.S. Supreme Court over the last half-century has initiated, "not just a political change, but a fundamental transformation of the entire political and social order."** 

Philipp Melanchthon, friend and collaborator in the Protestant Reformation with Martin Luther, "For just as there are in theoretical disciplines, such as mathematics, certain common principles, common concepts, or assumptions, such as that 'the whole is greater than the parts,' so there are in morals certain common principles and first axioms which constitute the ground rules of all human functions. These you will rightly call the laws of nature."***

"God says" or "man says" is the choice facing America. "We the people" must hold the Judicial, Legislative and Executive Branches of government accountable or be ready to answer to God; this is our point of no return. The secularist ideology is more than a mere political philosophy, dueling for ideological supremacy, it is a Weltanschauung (a worldview), a religion. Secularism—the false idol instituted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1963—has finally bloomed, blossomed and produced fruit; it's stench is nauseating.

The good news is that Jesus has not left His bride, the church. We just need a Gideon or Rahab the Harlot to stand. In God's unchanging order, if America is to be saved, it will be done by men and women of Issachar, who know the times and know what to do. It's true that we're not much, not too many of us are mighty, just the type of people that God Almighty—Jehovah—needs so that we, the victors, glorify Him in our weaknesses.

David Lane is the founder of the American Renewal Project.

* Harold O.J. Brown

** Genesis 19:1-13; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9
*** Harold J. Berman, Law and Revolution II

David Lane Featured Opinion Tue, 27 Jan 2015 08:00:00 -0500
Let’s Stand Up for Those Who Stand Up Against Tyranny

For those of us in the body of Christ, we are firm believers that when one in the body hurts, we all hurt. We also know Jesus wants us to treat others as we would want others to treat us.

For that reason, here is a cause I feel we must rally around. It's the case of a brave young journalist who was fired merely for expressing his biblical values.

The new issue of Charisma (in the mail now) features a cover story titled, "Christians in the Bulls-Eye: Why believers are the targets of discrimination in America."

Bob Eschliman, an award-winning newspaper reporter from Iowa, is the latest example. I identify with him because I lived in Iowa for five years and I began my career as a newspaper reporter.

But what the enemy meant for evil, Bob is using to do something good. Bob has launched an important conservative website called The Iowa Statesman. He's having a fundraiser through Indiegogo that ends at midnight Jan. 31. I urge you to read his story below and to donate as I have. If even half of those who read this Strang Report gave $15, he would reach his goal.

Please read Bob's story, post it on social media and email it to your friends. And then, give just as you would want others to help you if or when when the anti-God forces in our society take aim at you.

Remember what Martin Niemöller wrote about the Nazis in World War II:

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."
Read Bob's story in his own words: 

Former Newspaper Editor Fights Religious Discrimination

Bob Eschliman

I am the former editor-in-chief of the Newton Daily News, a 3,500-circulation weekday evening newspaper. I lost my job because I expressed my deeply held religious views with regard to homosexuality and efforts to rewrite the Bible.

In April of last year, I wrote about The Queen James Bible, which is a rewrite of the King James Bible in which all negative references to homosexuality are removed, and The Reformation Project, which is an effort to convince and/or apply pressure on their pastors to change their teachings with regard to homosexuality.

As a Christian, I felt both were affronts to the infallibility of the inspired Word of God.

I expressed those views, on my personal time, on a personal blog I had been maintaining, and which was read daily by less than 30 people—mostly friends and neighbors.

I was fired for that because, in the words of my employer, my Christian views "compromised the integrity of this newspaper and his ability to lead it." Here is a story about my case on At issue is freedom from workplace religious discrimination.

That was in mid-May. At the time of my firing, I had won nearly 70 awards from the Iowa Newspaper Association and Associated Press Managing Editors, including the INA's most prestigious journalistic award, the Harrison "Skip" Weber Award for Investigative Journalism.

I am a lifelong Iowan, having lived here almost my entire life (I served in the U.S. Navy for three years before I received a service-connected medical discharge, and I also helped launch a conservative news/politics magazine in Madison, Wisconsin, for six months).

My wife and children are all lifelong Iowa residents, as well. My wife is a cancer survivor, having been diagnosed and treated for Stage IV cancer of the tongue and surrounding tissues. And while that was more than 10 years ago, she still has a number of health issues related to the surgical and radiation treatments she needed to live. Her doctors are all here in Iowa, as well.

In short, we really need to stay in Iowa. But because of the attacks of those who don't like what I wrote, I am unable to otherwise find work in Iowa.

So, in mid-December, I announced I would be launching The Iowa Statesman, a news organization that will cover news and politics from a Christian, politically conservative, point of view. It has begun as a website, but as funding becomes available, my plan is to add a stand-alone print publication that will be available throughout the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

Rather than reach out to other big-money investors, who may want to control the editorial direction of the publication, I have instead sought crowd-funding assistance at We are also working to get advertisers for both the website and the print publication, and subscribers for the publication.

Right now, we're seeking $100,000, which would allow us to purchase the appropriate equipment and software we need, and would allow us to hire some additional staff to help me cover the very busy political scene in Iowa. It would also allow us to launch the print publication in early spring.

You can see what I've been able to do, on my own, at the

Steve Strang is the founding editor and publisher of Charisma. Follow him on Twitter @sstrang or Facebook (stephenestrang).

Steve Strang Featured Opinion Tue, 27 Jan 2015 07:00:00 -0500
10 Sure Signs You Have a Religious Spirit

In this article I am using the term "religion" to refer to man-made effort that utilizes works to please God. It is very easy to mistake being religious for having a relationship with God. All religions in the world are based on religion, which is a man-made attempt to reach God. However, Christianity is supposed to involve having a genuine relationship with God (2 Cor. 13:14). Unfortunately, it is very easy to unwittingly replace this precious relationship with a religious spirit (meaning a lifestyle or attitude), which is the default position of sinful human nature. The purpose of this article is to help people become self aware—not to condemn or judge them—hence, if you use this to judge others, you yourself are guilty of one of the following signs.

The following are eight signs you have a religious spirit:

1. You judge other people by their appearance.

God judges us by our heart, but man judges by outward appearance (1 Sam. 16:7). I have heard of many churches where young people have not felt welcome or have even been condemned by church leadership because they had a tattoo, a nose ring, or dressed a certain way. (In some legalistic churches men have to wear a suit and tie to attend church and ladies are not allowed to wear makeup and pants or cut their hair.) Although I believe mature believers should dress modestly, we especially need to allow visitors to come as they are and all believers should dress as they feel comfortable (with moderation). Legalistic churches that forbid folks to attend services because of their attire have exhibited one of the signs of having a religious spirit.

2. You try to earn God's love and salvation.

Since religion in this article refers to a man-made effort to please God—the motivation behind those efforts in this category has to do with following certain rules, or regulations regarding the outward man, in order to be in right standing with God. This is a clear violation of passages that teach us that we are saved by grace and not by our own works (Eph. 2:8-9).

3. You try to conform to outward holiness without inward transformation.

The Scriptures teach us that God is more concerned with cleansing the inward man (Ps. 51:6) than our outward conformity to rules and regulations. Those that only have a form of godliness without inward transformation deny His power (2 Tim. 3:5). Jesus strongly rebuked those who merely attempted to cleanse the outer man without allowing God to deal with the heart (Matt. 23). In my experience I have observed that very religious people usually have sinful habit patterns that eventually manifest because they don't allow God to change their inner being. The more we attempt to follow God merely by the letter of the law—the more it will incite our sinful tendencies (Rom. 7:7-25).

4. You are always critical of other people's walks with God.

I have noticed that the more religious a person is, the more critical they are of other believers and ministers. Since they are so hard on themselves (religious people generally don't understand grace and walk in self-condemnation), they are also equally hard on other people.

5. Your closest Christian relationships are based only on ministry activities.

Religious people are not only superficial with God but with others as well. Since they attempt to connect with the "other" merely by activities, they are disengaged emotionally and do not know how to connect heart to heart with those they interface with. Church-related ministry or functions usually hold their friendships together.

6. You perform Christian duties but have no passion or hunger for God.

Religious people sustain their version of Christianity by performing ministry or church attendance. They do not have a deep relationship with God nor do they hunger and thirst for Him.

7. You desire position and honor in the church more than honor from God.

Those with a religious spirit hinge their life and identity upon their outward man. Hence, they are drawn to having recognition and titles in the church world. If they cannot legitimately get a ministerial title from their local church, they will hook up with an online course or other entity that will give them some kind of badge or card signifying they are a minister or chaplain.

8. Your identity is rooted in a lifestyle of Christianity instead of in Christ.

Mature Christ-followers receive their main identity in the fact they are "sons" of God, whereas religious people receive their main identity in the things they attempt to do for God and their church.

9. You know about the truth of Jesus but not the way of Jesus.

Religious people make a big deal about the doctrines they accumulate through head knowledge. They make the mistake of thinking that having good doctrine means they are mature believers. Just because we may know about God doesn't mean we commune with God and know Him experientially.

10. You project righteousness but inwardly are filled with anger and resentment.

Religious people know the entire Christian lingo, know how to act and project themselves in certain settings and use this "act" to gain influence in church circles. However, projecting ourselves to create a Christian persona will not last long. Those who depend upon this superficial personality projection are merely being religious and will not have the sustainability to deal with the hurt, pain and disappointments of life. This results in a duality in which they appear righteous but inside are filled with anger, resentment and envy.

In closing, all of us can fit in one of these 10 categories at certain times in our life. The good news is: God is calling for us to go deeper in Him and experience His infinite love and peace. The only way to experience His life to the fullest is to let Him increase so that we can automatically decrease (John 3:30). When we try to reverse this, then we will merely be religious and God will allow us to fail.

Joseph Mattera is overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church and Christ Covenant Coalition, in Brooklyn, New York, and author of numerous books, including Ruling in the Gates: Preparing the Church to Transform Cities. Follow him on Facebook or visit him online at

Joseph Mattera Featured The Pulse Opinion Tue, 27 Jan 2015 06:00:00 -0500
‘A Sense of Urgency’ Compels New Ministry to Stand FIRM With Israel

The erosion of support for Israel within the church in recent years—especially among millennials—has not set well with Wayne Hilsden and other pro-Israel leaders.

The co-founder and senior pastor of King of Kings Community Jerusalem—a Messiah-centered, Spirit-empowered disciple-making community that reveals the truth face of Jesus to Israel and the nations—Hilsden isn't mincing words about his view that many leaders in the the evangelical church have failed to pass the torch of truth about Israel to the next generation. Nor is he taking a mandate that he believes God recently gave him to "get Israel back into biblical theology."

That mandate comes in the form of FIRM (Fellowship of Israel Related Ministries), a ministry Hilsden and many other prominent Messianic Jewish and Jewish ministry-related leaders formed in 2014, according to its mission statement, "to unite a global fellowship of biblically sound believers committed to cultivating Messiah-centered relationships that work to bless the inhabitants of Israel and the worldwide Jewish community."

FIRM will initially launch its initiative to the world at its Israel Summit at Resurrection Fellowship Church in Loveland, Colorado, on Feb. 4-6.

"All of this really relates to an impression that the Lord gave to me directly to rally the troops worldwide," said Hilsden, who has pastored at King of Kings Community along with his wife, Ann, for more than 30 years. "It has become apparent that many in the evangelical Christian church are not necessarily on board with Israel and that perspective is becoming a dominant voice in the media. Lies are being told, and they are especially addressing the younger generation of evangelical Christians.

"A sense of urgency came into my spirit that there is a force, primarily spiritual in nature, that is seeking to destroy the people of Israel. God is calling us to have a special plan for Israel that reaches well into the future and culminating at the time when the Lord returns."

Hilsden is quick to point out that FIRM was "not created to take the place of existing Israel-oriented ministries," but to "connect those ministries with one another and to create cooperation and synergy" within this specific community.

One such ministry is Jewish Voice Ministries International. One of the many goals of JVMI is to equip the church by educating believers about the Hebraic roots of Christianity. When Hilsden called Jewish Voice Ministries President Jonathan Bernis to collaborate as a board member of FIRM, Bernis didn't hesitate.

"Wayne is a trusted friend in Israel, and my willingness to get involved stems from the fact that Jewish Voice Ministries' objectives are very much aligned with FIRM. One of our biggest challenges in the beginning, I believe, is going to be relationship building. I don't know that the relationship between the church and the Messianic movement has ever been built correctly, for various reasons. There has been a very negative attitude toward the Messianic community from the church and even political leaders in Israel. They have been very adverse to pushing evangelism. FIRM aims to change that landscape."

One of the biggest enemies FIRM and other supporters of Israel face is the concept of supersessionism or replacement theology—the notion that essentially teaches that the church has replaced Israel in God's plan and that the Jews are no longer God's chosen people. Millennial Nic Lesmeister, 32, director of the Ezekiel Foundation in Tyler, Texas, and a member of the FIRM advisory board, says it is the heaviest issue the church faces with the younger generation as it pertains to supporting Israel.

"There has been a rise of hybrid forms of replacement theology in recent years," Lesmeister says. "One of the most popular is something called 'fulfillment theology,' which is being taught at many influential universities throughout the United States. It gives Israel some credit for having been chosen by God for redemptive purposes, but it is seen has having been already 'fulfilled' with the coming of Christ and the birth of the church. Thus it ends up at the same place as Replacement Theology in that it concludes that God is finished with Israel, with a bit less hostility toward the Jews.

"In buying into these teachers' theologies, many young people have bought into a false theology on Israel. I'm not sure that many of these young people even realize this because it is masked in graceful theological terms that fall much more palatably on the ear than 'replacement theology' does. We must discuss, disagree and correct these erroneous beliefs with humility and grace if we want to see a future generation stand FIRM with Israel."

Michael Mistretta, who handles the operations and marketing for FIRM, says its clear why the gap between millennials and Israel has widened in recent years.

"The younger generation has grown up disconnected from Israel because 'standing with Israel' has become a political statement rather than a spiritual attitude," Mistretta said. "There is a lack of proper, biblical teaching on the purpose and the future of Israel in the church today. We've been taught that the Old Testament is obsolete, the people of Israel replaced and the saga of redemption has continued in the church.

"But when we read the Bible as one who has been adopted into the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by the sheer grace of God, we start to share in the rich ancestry of godliness that we've become a part of. We see that God's covenant never fails, His purposes always endure, and He shows mercy even when we don't deserve it. Instead of arrogance towards Israel, we find humility, because they are truly the root upon which we stand."

Board member Jonathan Wiggins, lead pastor of the charismatic Resurrection Church in Loveland, says he believes many young evangelicals subscribe to replacement theology these days without really knowing what the phrase means. Wiggins says all it takes to rebut replacement theology is biblical literacy, which many in the church, especially millennials, lack.

"I challenge people to read Ezekiel 36 and 37 and Romans 9, 10 and 11 and then make up their own minds," Wiggins said. "Some people who read the Bible read it through a theology lens and don't even understand the term. The reformers themselves as a people brought this message, that's why it's of the utmost importance to know the Bible and what it really says."

Hilsden said in the November-December issue of Ministry Today that one of the reasons why so many young people have little knowledge or interest in Israel is the fact that they read the Bible on a limited basis or not at all.

The fact that evangelical support for Israel is waning can quite possibly be attributed to another factor: the perception of social justice. Many in the media have portrayed Israel as a bully and have labeled Palestinians as the underdog. Although she believes some "well-meaning supporters of Israel have in the past assumed extreme positions of unqualified political support of the Jewish State to the unintended but very real detriment of Palestinian Christians," author and FIRM board member Sandra Teplinskly believes the social justice advocacy has wrongly trumped the personal sharing of the gospel.

"Combined with sharing personal narratives of suffering, this new theology has captured the hearts of many young evangelicals," Teplinsky said. "Evangelicals are increasingly influenced by the shift in Western secular thought that rejects traditional notions of absolute truth and moral values. As a result, they feel free to interpret Scripture more subjectively and with less time-consuming attention as to how the whole Bible interprets itself. This impacts their view of Israel and tends to predispose them to new forms of replacement theology. The Palestinian narrative of 60 years of victimization—which is typically blamed entirely on Israel but not on Arab Islamic leadership—is more compelling than the Jewish narrative of 3,000 years of victimization."

All of these elements, including silence for fear of persecution, present major challenges for FIRM going forward. Hilsden says he and the other principals involved in launching the new ministry are keenly aware of the spiritual forces at work against them, as well as other supporters of Israel.

He says, however, that FIRM is being established as a voice of biblical reason in the midst of chaos and confusion. All of it begins with the Israel Summit in Colorado next week, which has seen 1,200 registrants in less than six weeks. Additionally, 500 or more high school students are expected to attend Friday's events along with 75 to 90 students from Youth With a Mission (YWAM).

"Many are asking the question 'Why support Israel?' They have many other questions, and we believe it's crucial to answer those questions. We intend to do just that. We believe we have a sound, theological case that actually requires the church to stand with the Jewish people."

Shawn A. Akers Featured Standing With Israel Opinion Tue, 27 Jan 2015 07:00:00 -0500
Alabama Judge Puts Brakes on Same-Sex Marriage

Same-sex couples in Alabama will have to put their wedding plans on hold after a federal judge issued a two-week stay on her ruling that struck down the state's laws banning gay marriages, including those performed legally in other states. 

U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade said in an order issued Sunday night that she would give the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals until Feb. 9 to decide whether gay marriages should continue to be delayed in the state. 

"As long as a stay is in place, same-sex couples and their families remain in a state of limbo with respect to adoption, child care and custody, medical decisions, employment and health benefits, future tax implications, inheritance and many other rights associated with marriage," Granade wrote. 

The stay came two days after Granade ruled that Alabama's prohibition on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, clearing the way for the conservative southern state to become the 37th U.S. state to allow same-sex couples to wed. 

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said the stay, which he had requested, was a "step in the right direction," though he preferred a longer delay until the U.S. Supreme Court decides later this year whether states can ban gay marriage. 

Strange said allowing same-sex marriages in Alabama before the court's ruling would cause confusion and harm to the state if laws barring those unions ultimately are upheld.

Granade, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, said on Sunday the state was unlikely to succeed on appeal.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Colleen Jenkins Featured Politics Mon, 26 Jan 2015 16:19:44 -0500
India's Christians Rise Up Against Hindu Extremist Persecution

Indian Christians from across denominations have formed a legal-aid agency, complete with a telephone hotline number, to respond to increasing attacks that have followed the rise of Hindu nationalists to national power.

The United Christian Forum for Human Rights was formed Jan. 19 "to coordinate both legal and advocacy assistance to the community, which has been traumatized in recent months by communal violence in several states," said John Dayal, a prominent Christian activist and spokesperson for the new group, in a statement to World Watch Monitor.

Harassment of India's Christians has increased since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, swept parliamentary elections in May 2014.

The new initiatives have been assembled ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to India. Asked whether the flurry of anti-Christian violence would figure on Obama's agenda, the new Forum Secretary Rev. Vijayesh Lal said, "We have to speak up for ourselves." 

Four days before the U.S. President arrived, the Catholic Church urged the government "to uphold the secular character of India." This plea emerged from a meeting of India's top Catholic Church leadership.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference said that recent attacks on Christians—the clamour to turn India into a Hindu nation and attacks on churches and Christians in several parts of the country—have "shaken the faith in the secular fabric of the nation."

"The UCF has commissioned a 24-hour National Helpline, 1-800-208-4545, so that lawyers and experts can assist victims of violence, intimidation, coercion and illegal confinement by any criminal or political group," the organizers said in the statement.

"We have had more than 4,000 calls already. Most of them are out of eagerness to verify if it is working and also to express solidarity," said Tehmina Arora, a lawyer with the Alliance for Defending Freedom India.

But already, three serious cases of atrocities have been reported, Arora said. These include a dozen Christian families being ostracized near Kanyakumari, in the peninsular southern tip of India; Christians being prevented from building a church in western Gujarat state; and intimidation of Christians in eastern Bihar state.

"We are verifying these complaints and Christian lawyers in the area will be asked to help them," Arora said.

United Christian Forum coordinator A.C. Michael said the new forum will be "more of an action group." Christian networks such as the Evangelical Fellowship of India, the Christian Lawyers' Association and the Alliance for Defending Freedom India will be involved in providing timely legal support for needy Christians.

"Church leadership will not be involved in it," Michael said. "The Helpline and the Forum will be a watch group to monitor the developments affecting the community."

So far in 2015, at least one violent incident against Christians has been reported each week, according to, a website that monitors violence and other attacks on Christian religious freedom.

In December, the National Human Rights Commission of India issued notices to five states—the north-central states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and the southern states of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu—citing media reports of acts of violence and atrocities against Christians, according to The Times of India.

"These frequent attacks on the religious institutions of the minority community, if true, violate the fundamental right to freedom of religion and cause immense harm to the social fabric," a Commission statement said.

The Religious Liberty Commission of the Delhi-based Evangelical Fellowship of India recorded 31 incidents targeting Christians in December alone. The cases included physical violence, false accusations, disruption of church services or Christmas functions, hate campaigns and pressure to convert to Hinduism.

The attacks on minorities, including Christians, also led to a debate in the parliament on "rising communal incidents in the country," according to NDTV, a private news channel.

"2014 has been a ... traumatic year... A campaign based on hate ends the year in decisions based on hate," Dayal said at the launch of the new forum, alluding to the election campaign of the BJP and its victory.

In 2014, the EFI monitored at least 144 such cases, but said the actual number is likely to be much higher.

While Christians, churches and their institutions are being attacked in Delhi and various state capitals, cases in smaller cities and villages often go unreported, and victims have little help.

"The United Christian Forum has come together so that we are able to ensure that the voice of the persons in the villages ... reaches New Delhi," forum Chairman Michael William announced at the function.

"The United Christian Forum is about a collective response from our community," said Secretary Rev Vijayesh Lal. "What UCF stands for ... is that we care, that we are here, we are together and we are one body."

The BJP is widely seen as the political wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, an umbrella Hindu nationalist group which champions the concept of Hindutva, an ideology that envisions a Hindu India where minorities are allowed to exist, but in subordination to the majority.

Dayal said Christians live under pressure in India no matter who is at the helm of the government.

"It does not matter who the government is, which the government is," he said. "The non-state actors remain the same, the progress of the judicial criminal system remains the same."

The new Christian Forum and hotline have been assembled just as India hosts U.S. President Barack Obama. Asked whether the flurry of anti-Christian violence would figure into Obama's agenda, Lal said: "We have to speak up for ourselves."

Four days before the president arrived, the Catholic Church issued a statement urging the government "to uphold the secular character of India." This plea emerged from a meeting of India's top Catholic church leadership including the four Cardinals in the Indian Church.

The Catholic Bishops' Conference said that recent attacks on Christians, the clamour to turn India into a Hindu nation and attacks on churches and Christians in several parts of the country have "shaken the faith in the secular fabric of the nation."

Pramod Singh, president of the Christian Legal Association of India and part of the new United Christian Forum, said the idea of India, as "conceived by our founding fathers," is under threat.

He read the preamble to the Constitution before the audience: "We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic, and to secure to all its citizens: justice, social, economic and political; liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation."

John Dayal said Christians should meet the challenge in prayer "on bended knees."

"But bended before God," he stressed. "Not bended before man and not bended before non-state actors or (the) state itself. India is our motherland, and we claim our rights as children of God and citizens of India with the Bible in one hand and the Constitution of India in the other."

Vishal Arora and Anto Akkara/World Watch Monitor Featured World News Mon, 26 Jan 2015 16:08:34 -0500
WATCH: Stuck in a Dark Elevator, Franklin Graham's Faith Shines Bright

It sounds like the beginning of a joke: Franklin Graham, Greta Van Susteran and four others walk into an elevator ...

The evangelist and Fox News commentator whipped out their cameras to capture the scene. The comrades banter back and forth, talking about world adventures and adding this one in Hanoi, Vietnam, to the list. 

Watch the video to see how they handle the situation. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Mon, 26 Jan 2015 15:06:49 -0500
Mike Huckabee Calls for 'Resistance' to Legalizing Gay Marriage

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, a likely contender for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination and a leading voice for Christian conservatives, said Thursday (Jan. 22) that governors and state legislators should consider ways to resist a Supreme Court decision that recognized same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.

Huckabee likened such a ruling to the notorious Dred Scott case before the Civil War in which the Supreme Court said African-Americans couldn't be citizens. Pushing back against such an opinion "is not without historical and judicial precedence," he said in an interview promoting his new book, God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy, published Wednesday (Jan. 21) by St. Martin's Press.

"We have a constitutional amendment in our constitution," he said on USA Today's Capital Download. "Do we want to hold to that? Do we want to put it before a referendum of the people?' I mean, there are a lot of different angles to pursue it. (Or) you could just surrender and say, 'OK, we just agree that the court is right.' "

Whatever the legal basis for Huckabee's stance — and constitutional scholars question whether there is one — as a political matter his fervent opposition all but guarantees that the issue of gay marriage will be prominent in the GOP presidential debate. While other leading contenders also oppose gay marriage, some of them, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, have said court decisions recognizing the right make it a settled question.

Huckabee disagrees.

"Rather than just immediately capitulate to nine people in robes, and what it will probably be is five people in robes against four people who disagree ... then you have a very, very divided court," he told the weekly newsmaker series. "Do we really surrender the entire American system of government to five people, unelected, appointed for life, with no consequences for the decisions they make? The founders never intended for there to be such incredible, almost unlimited power, put in the hands of so few people."

But Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the University of California Law School, Irvine, said states would have no options if the Supreme Court decided that laws prohibiting same-sex marriage violated the Constitution.

"There have been efforts by states to circumvent or ignore Supreme Court decisions, most notably the intense Southern resistance to Brown v. Board of Education and desegregation," Chemerinsky said. "The Supreme Court made it clear that its ruling was the law of the land. This will be no different."

The issue has been joined, he noted. "Already, marriage equality exists in 36 states, mostly because of court decisions, and there has not been the type of resistance Huckabee suggests."

Still, it is a sign of Huckabee's appeal to the evangelical Christians who are among the GOP's most loyal voters that his new book immediately shot to No. 1 in sales among political books on Amazon and into the top 100 among books of all sorts. In his folksy, conversational style, he unfavorably contrasts New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. — places he dubs "Bubble-ville" — with those from the heartland, which he dubs "Bubba-ville."

At one point in the book, he discussed how "goooood" it is to eat game. "I'm sorry if that sounds cruel to any vegan readers," he added. "(And are there any? Raise your hands, if you have the strength.)"

In the interview, Huckabee also:

* Acknowledged he was likely to make his second bid for the White House. He also ran in 2008. "If everything continues to work well and I sense that there is, say, the proper financial and political support, then I think it's a given that that's where the destination is."
* Predicted former president Bill Clinton would be an asset to his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, if she runs for the Democratic nomination. "I mean, he had a good presidency. I'm a Republican but I admire good governing."
* Dismissed as overblown a furor over comments in his new book criticizing Beyonce and Jay-Z for using sexually explicit lyrics, and the president and first lady for allowing their daughters to listen to them. "I do think they're good parents," he said of the Obamas, adding he has some of Beyonce's songs on his iPhone.

Susan Page / USA Today Featured Politics Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:27:55 -0500
These Christians Are Rejoicing Amid Radical Islam's Deadly Persecution

Christians in Niger are regrouping and passionately worshipping after Islamic militants burned their churches to the ground earlier this month.  

"Last night the church members met for prayer as the pastor, who lost everything, encouraged them by flashlight to not only stand strong, but to move forward and to know that this attack will grow the church," wrote the missionary couple to concerned partners, according to Morning Star News. "The room was dark on the outside but illuminated by the fire in the hearts of His people, even as stones were being thrown on the roof." 

More than 70 churches were burned to the ground across the Niger capital of Zinder—killing at least 10 people—in protest of the way Charlie Hebdo depicted Muhammad on Jan. 16. 

Evangelical Church in the Niger Republic President Rev. Mai'aki Kadaidai told Morning Star News the attacks extended beyond the capital city.  

"This is the first time we are witnessing violence of this magnitude against the church and Christians," Kadaidai said. "In all, 68 churches were destroyed across five regions of Agadez, Damagaram, Diffa, Maradi, Zinder and in our country's capital city of Niamey. The Muslim rioters destroyed five of our [EERN] churches, destroyed four homes of our pastors and many of our members were adversely affected." 

Despite persecution, the Christians are marching forward, declaring the gospel as they rebuild their communities.

Jessilyn Justice Featured World News Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:09:12 -0500
Michael Moore Invokes Jesus in 'Sniper' Rant, Todd Starnes Fires Back

Clint Eastwood's American Sniper had another jaw-dropping weekend, reaching an impressive $200 million at the domestic box office. Despite the film's colossal success, liberals like former DNC chairman Howard Dean and director Michael Moore just won't let American Sniper go. Over the weekend, Moore invoked Jesus in a slew of incendiary tweets aimed at dishonoring American soldiers and the Iraq war.

One tweet stated, "Tomorrow's Sunday School (1) What Would Jesus Do? Oh, I know what he'd do—hide on top of a roof and shoot people in the back!"

He followed that tweet with: "Sunday School: (2) But What Would Jesus Do if he could be a sniper & save soldiers lives by shooting 'savages' in the back?"

Fox News' Todd Starnes sounded off on Monday against Moore. "There was a time when Hollywood and Democrats stood in solidarity with our fighting men and women," Starnes said. "Folks like Jimmy Stewart and Bob Hope and John Wayne—American heroes. Those days are long gone and our sweet land of liberty has been soiled by the stinking stench of Michael Moore and Howard Dean and their liberal minions."

Todd Starnes is host of "Fox News & Commentary," heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is God Less America. This column originally appeared on

Todd Starnes Featured American Dispatch Opinion Mon, 26 Jan 2015 13:44:18 -0500
'Remnant' Key to Spiritual Awakening in America, Says Sam Rohrer

To close out 2014, the Barna Group released 10 facts about the unchurched in America, especially salient as their numbers grow and as fewer Americans attend church.

According to Barna, the number of unchurched people in America would make up the eighth most populous country in the world. As of 2014, the estimated number of people in the U.S. who are "churchless"—meaning they have not attended a Christian church service, other than a special event such as a wedding or a funeral, at any time during the past six months—stands at 114 million. Add to that the roughly 42 million children and teenagers who are unchurched for a total of 156 million U.S. residents who are not engaged with a Christian church.

The American Pastors Network says while these numbers are disappointing and alarming, true change in America will happen through the "Rise of the Remnant," or those who are left with a passion that still remains for God.

"Let's contrast the 'Rise of the Churchless' with the 'Rise of the Remnant,'" said APN President Sam Rohrer, who is also president of the Pennsylvania Pastors Network. "God's people have a crucial role in the midst of chaos, and especially among these millions of unchurched."

The "remnant" is described in the Bible as "what remains of a group of people after most of that group has been destroyed or lost through dispersal brought upon by judgment or the following of apostasy." As more and more churches water down or even flatly reject biblical truth in favor of seeking the world's approval, this remnant will become even more apparent.

Several verses in the Bible address this "remnant," including 2 Kings 19:31, which says, "For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors; the zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this," and Isaiah 28:5, "In that day the Lord Almighty will be a glorious crown, a beautiful wreath for the remnant of his people." Paul also talks about the "remnant" in Romans 11:5: "So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace."

"The whole of God's people can focus on their important role in the midst of confusion, and as the number of churchless rises, the 'remnant,' armed with the power of truth, can recalibrate a culture that has jettisoned its moral compass," Rohrer said. "This 'remnant' will be bold to speak the truth on how morality and God's standards can reset broken families, organize an aimless society and secure God's blessings on our nation."

Deborah Hamilton Featured U.S. News Mon, 26 Jan 2015 12:26:23 -0500
WATCH: Gov. Bobby Jindal Grilled for 'Our God Wins' Proclamation

At "The Response: Louisiana," Gov. Bobby Jindal stepped away from politics and promoted Christianity and revival, saying America needs more than a new president to save it. 

"We can't just elect a candidate to fix what ails our country. ... We need a spiritual revival to fix what ails our country." 

Later, though, Jindal went on ABC News with George Stephanopoulos to reiterate that no matter what is happening in the world, we, as Christians, already know what will happen in the end: "Our God wins." 

Watch the video to see how Jindal responds when Stephanopoulos calls him out. 

Jessilyn Justice Featured Culture Mon, 26 Jan 2015 12:20:59 -0500
Fulfilling Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream of Healing the Racial Divide Through a Reconciled Church

Like most Americans, I have tracked with great interest recent developments in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City and resulting racial tension, but was only able to process them through the diffused prism and unfocused lens of my limited experience.

But three events the week leading up to the annual Martin Luther King Jr. holiday facilitated a paradigm shift for me, providing several "aha" moments on the subject of racial reconciliation.

First, my wife and I went to see Selma on opening weekend to learn more about that turbulent time in our nation's history and how one man's dream could bring about changes in our world.

Several days later I was invited to an advance screening of Kevin Costner's upcoming theatrical release, Black or White, hosted by Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas. Opening nationally on Jan. 30 this film—based on a true story—tells the compelling personal tale of a family forced to confront their true feelings on race, addiction, forgiveness and understanding.

On the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s actual birthday I participated in "The Reconciled Church: Healing the Racial Divide." This unprecedented summit, hosted by Bishop Jakes and convened by Bishop Harry Jackson from metro-Washington, D.C., was attended by a racially, denominationally, geographically and generationally diverse representation of more than 100 pastors and faith leaders from across the nation. 

Among these were legendary civil rights leader and former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, a prominent figure in the Selma story; Dr. Bernice King, CEO of The King Center in Atlanta and daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and Dr. King's niece, Dr. Alveda King.

"Most people, when they think about my father, often forget that he was a pastor," Bernice King said, explaining that the civil rights movement originated in the church, and that it was a fitting tribute to her father's legacy that faith leaders were once again taking the lead in the area of racial reconciliation. "The church's role and responsibility is always to be on the ground, connecting to and leading on every issue in our nation and our world."

According to Ambassador Young, Selma was 50 years ago, but this is a new day and a new dynamic. "We have come together to give a pastoral assessment, and I am amazed by how much agreement there was," Young said.  "The challenge of the Church from the very beginning, and the spirit in which we have gathered, is: How do we deal with the 'least of these,' God's children?"

In sharing his vision, Bishop Jackson—who was in Ferguson the day the Grand Jury decision was announced—challenged, "The church really has a lot of the answers, and is already operative in doing great work to address the problems of our day. A group like this can shake the foundations of the nation—for God and for good."

Bishop Jakes agreed. "The heart of our faith centers around giving, serving and helping people; what we wanted to do was to see that love take human form," he said, noting the Gospel of John references "the Word was made flesh."

Bishop Jakes continued, "We want the Word we preach to be made flesh and influence not only our congregations and communities, but also the national conversation—around solutions, rather than pain and frustration." 

As I listened to the robust discussion and dialogue, including a spirit of repentance from many Anglo pastors who came in humility to listen and learn, I realized my own need to acknowledge and examine attitudes of privilege and actively seek to understand the unique experiences, challenges and viewpoints of individuals with differing identities.

According to writer Cathy Reisenwitz, "Acknowledging privilege isn't putting people in categories or discriminating against them.  It's recognizing that one's identity shields oneself from firsthand knowledge of others' oppression. This isn't a description of how things should be. It's an admission of how things currently are."

My take-away on the opportunity of the church to lead in effecting change further crystallized in church yesterday while listening to a sermon on the difference one person can make amid the fear, resignation, sense of powerlessness and denial in the wake of everything from recent shootings to stopping Ebola, ISIS or poverty.

The text for that sermon on Jesus' response as to whether or not any of us can make a difference was from Matthew 9:35-39. "But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd."

Earlier in that chapter, Jesus had been going through cities and villages, healing every sickness and disease among the people.  Just that day, He had already forgiven and healed a paralytic, restored a young girl to life and healed another woman from an issue of blood. Obviously, He had already seen individuals among the multitude, physically. 

But as He looked into their hearts, not with judgment or shame, but compassion, He saw their condition as they were—the abused, the abuser, the dying. He turned from the crowd to his disciples following Him and made a distinction between the plentiful harvest and the scarcity of harvesters.

That is what happened at the Reconciled Church summit last week. Despite our different life experiences, the church has a common mission and language. Like Jesus, we can see beyond physical characteristics and crises to focus with compassion on the hearts of individuals in need, and develop practical solutions to make a difference in their lives.

As David McCasland wrote, "The words of Jesus compel us to act and to move, beyond business as usual ... Jesus' death forgave my past sins and inspires my present obedience."

Larry Ross is president of A. Larry Ross Communications, a full-service agency providing crossover media liaison at the intersection of faith and culture. With more than 38 years' experience influencing public opinion, Ross' mission is to "restore faith in media," by giving Christian messages relevance and meaning in mainstream media.

Larry Ross Featured Opinion Mon, 26 Jan 2015 11:21:57 -0500
America's Enemies Working to Collapse US Economy

The United States has been at war since 2001 and America must not let down its guard.

One of the newer threats to national security is economic warfare. Its goal is to cripple a country's economy, rendering it weak and ineffective.

A Different Kind of War

When you think of war, images from the battlefield or troops scouring city streets in search of terrorists probably come to mind.

Another arena is the financial front. In economic warfare, enemies use financial markets as weapons to attack national interests.

"There are a half dozen different kinds of systemic attacks that could hit America, whether it's a cyber attack, which is a really serious problem, one that the national security people call a 'cyber Pearl Harbor,'" Kevin Freeman, with the founder and chairman of the National Security Investment Consultant Institute, or NSIC, told CBN News.

Examples of cyber attacks include the recent hacking of Sony and the embarrassment of the military's Central Command by ISIS.

A more feared scenario would be an electromagnetic pulse attack, or EMP, designed to wipe out our electric grid and computer chips across the country.

That's not all.

"There are mercantilist and predatory trade practices; dumping of foreign products on American markets in order to put American businesses out of business," said John Lenczowski, founder and president of The Institute of World Politics, a national security and international affairs school in Washington, D.C.

"There is the selling of counterfeit products, which gravely damages all sorts of American businesses," he said.

"It could be a settlement attack, where they take down our ability to settle trades on the New York Stock Exchange," Freeman added. "Or a banking attack, where literally you turn on, log in and there's nothing left. These are the kind of financial warfare attacks that we see preparations for daily, and we see examples of attempts almost daily."

Marketplace, Battlefield or Both?

That's why Freeman and others formed the NSIC.

CBN News spoke with Freeman at the organization's Founders Class, attended by an elite group of financial advisers and national security experts.

NSIC leaders say their mission is to promote awareness about economic warfare and to equip leaders to enhance national security to protect the American economy and to improve investor results.

"It is an important mission in helping people to move away from the traditional concepts and ways of doing things and getting them to accept and then practice new ways that give us a greater level of protection if we do have a collapse. Or it may not be a collapse; it may just be a severe downturn in our markets," Lt. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin, former commander of the Delta Force, told CBN News.

Boykin spoke to the NSIC Founders Class. The retired general knows the importance of being prepared for battle, and the necessity of shoring up our economic defenses in this new era.

"What we see as a marketplace of goods internationally our enemies see as a battle space," Freeman summarized.

Former CIA operations officer and intelligence analyst Clare Lopez talked about the importance of studying risk.

"For the first time, you've got financial money managers who need to understand things about risk, hearing from national security people, like myself, who have a worldview or an understanding of some of the national security or international security risks out there," Lopez explained.

"They're hearing from us how those risks can affect their own decision-making and their ability to protect their clients' money," she said.

Prepared to Fight

CBN News spoke with financial advisers about learning tactics for this fight.

"We're just trying to be servants to our clients, to build and protect their legacies, to try to further the United States and its purposes in the world, and to do what's right for our clients and our country," Randy Long, a wealth manager and lawyer, said.

"I can talk about all these financial things that I've been trained in for so many years, but I didn't realize how many forces are out there to attack it and how I can better be prepared to address those issues before they happen," said Janice Thompson, who leads a wealth management company.

"It's important to understand not only what our enemies are doing to bring down our entire culture and our society and everything we stand for, all of our first things, but it's also important to understand who's behind these tactics," Joseph Schmitz, former U.S. Inspector General, said.

And who are the forces that might mount such an attack?

"I think you do have to look first of all at the big international players like Russia, like China, but certainly Iran as part of that," Lopez said. "Al-Qaida, the Muslim Brotherhood, these jihadi organizations—they are very much involved in financial warfare."
So knowing suspected enemies and what they're up to in the tricky arena of economic warfare becomes a new battle plan with new soldiers.
The goal: help market leaders, financial advisers and their clients stay aware to keep our economy stable and better protected to withstand enemy attack.

Mark Martin/CBN News Featured Marketplace Mon, 26 Jan 2015 09:54:05 -0500
The Results of This Gov. Chris Christie Poll Are Telling

Nearly three in five registered voters in New Jersey do not think their governor, Republican Chris Christie, would make a good U.S. president, according to a poll released on Thursday. 

Christie, who is seen as a potential candidate in the 2016 election, has twice won the governor's office in New Jersey, where nearly twice as many voters are registered as Democrat than Republican. 

In a putative presidential election between Christie and Hillary Clinton, 52 percent of New Jerseyans polled by Quinnipiac University said they would vote for the Democratic former U.S. secretary of state, including 11 percent of registered Republicans. 

Overall, 57 percent of the registered voters polled said they did not think Christie, who prides himself on his blunt, sometimes combative speaking style, would make a good president. That included nearly a third of registered Republicans, 78 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of independents. 

It is unusual for candidates to win the presidency while losing their home state, although James Polk, Woodrow Wilson and Richard Nixon managed the feat, in 1844, 1916 and 1968, respectively. 

Just over half of those polled said they had an unfavorable opinion of Christie, whose popularity was dented over revelations that officials in his administration ordered closures on the George Washington Bridge in 2013 that resulted in traffic jams in a town whose mayor had not endorsed the governor in his re-election bid. 

Christie has said he had no knowledge of the lane closures, and several inquiries have found no evidence to contradict this. 

Christie, 52, has not declared a bid for the presidency, but has discussed national themes in recent speeches and will be in Iowa, a key state in the primary elections, this weekend for a summit attended by influential Republican activists. 

The poll was conducted with 1,211 registered voters in New Jersey over the last week, and it and has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points.

 © 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Jonathan Allen/Reuters Featured Politics Mon, 26 Jan 2015 09:46:26 -0500
Thousands Make an Appeal to Heaven in Baton Rouge

From worship to prayer, thousands joined together on the campus of Louisiana State University for a weekend faith gathering called, "The Response: Louisiana."

The event, led by Gov. Bobby Jindal, was designed as a way for Christians to come together and seek spiritual revival for America.

"It always starts in one place and we're just praying that the prayers we send out today are going to spread to our nation," attendee Angel Heath said.

Jindal asked all of his fellow U.S. governors to join him in Baton Rouge.  
"Our God is an awesome God, amen!" Jindal declared before the crowd. "We're going to plea for Him to send His Spirit, His healing Spirit, a Spirit of revival in this place, all across this state, all across this blessed land."

The night before the event, Jindal told a group of pastors how the Lord had been orchestrating this moment for decades.
"Twenty-seven years ago I accepted Christ as my lord and savior on the LSU campus," Jindal shared.

"I was a 16-year-old teenager, and if you had gone back in time and said, 'One day, son, you're going to be governor of this great state and as governor you're going to call and host a time of prayer and renewal on that same campus,' it shows you that we worship an all-powerful God," he said.
This weekend, many prayed and repented while others in intercessory prayer rooms asked God to intervene in America's affairs and rescue its people.
"Father, we say we need you," one person prayed. "We're poor in spirit. We can't do this on our own."
David Lane, an organizer with the American Renewal Project, says there is only one answer and one ultimate goal.
"Only the Lord could restore America to its Judeo-Christian heritage and re-establish a Christian culture. Only the Lord could do that," Lane said.
The vibe inside LSU's Pete Maravich Assembly Center was one of peace, of praise and of worship to God.

Outside the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, however, there was a different vibe—one of anger.

A hundred or so protesters marched against the rally, with one of their concerns being that Jindal held a religious event on a state-funded campus.

"He shouldn't be doing it on a state campus. If they want to do that, go somewhere else," prayer rally protester Phyllis Nowak said.
The protesters were also displeased that the American Family Association, a group that unashamedly promotes traditional values, was involved with the event.

Jindal thinks the protesters need to calm down.
"You've got a group of Christians who say we want to pay money to rent a hall on LSU's campus so we can come together and pray. Do we really live in a society where that's controversial?" Jindal said.
Apparently so, but Christians here soldier on, praying for revival.

"This has been a positive seed in the direction of getting the nation to turn its eyes back on the Lord," Paul Abram, a Louisiana resident who attended the weekend prayer gathering, said.
It is a divine appeal that's brought many to their knees.

David Brody/CBN News Featured U.S. News Mon, 26 Jan 2015 09:37:38 -0500
Chris Christie Joins Crowded GOP Battle for Donors

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his supporters have formed a political-action committee ahead of a likely bid for president, adding a third well-known Republican figure to the fight for campaign funds among the party's core donor class, the Wall Street Journal reported. 

The launch of the PAC, called Leadership Matters for America, is the clearest sign yet that Christie is running and allows him to assemble a team of staffers and fundraisers who could support a potential run for president, the newspaper said. 

The PAC signals increased competition for the same set of large-dollar donors who have been taking calls from former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney, both of whom are considering presidential campaigns, the Journal said. (

Reuters could not immediately reach Christie for comment outside regular U.S. business hours. 

Christie, 52, has not declared a bid for the presidency, but has discussed national themes in recent speeches and was in Iowa, a key state in the primary elections, this weekend for a summit attended by influential Republican activists. 

Christie, who many conservatives see as a moderate, touted his ability to appeal to a broad segment of the electorate, from Hispanics to independent voters. 

According to a poll released last Thursday, nearly three in five registered voters in New Jersey do not think Christie would make a good U.S. president. 

Christie's popularity was dented over revelations that officials in his administration ordered closures on the George Washington Bridge in 2013 that resulted in traffic jams in a town whose mayor had not endorsed the governor in his re-election bid.

© 2015 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

Reuters Featured Politics Mon, 26 Jan 2015 09:09:31 -0500