Atheists ask appeals court to banish Pensacola cross

Bob Unruh – May 19, 2018

The American Humanist Association Wednesday asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to banish a Christian cross that has been standing in a park in Pensacola, Florida, for nearly 80 years, because it represents “a troubling elevation of the Christian faith above other beliefs and non-belief.”

The city, however, argues the Constitution permits government to recognize the significant role of religion in the nation’s history and culture.

In fact, according to Becket, a non-profit religious liberty law firm representing the city, of the four “Pensacola residents” on whose behalf the complaint was filed, two live in Canada and another lives outside the city.

The fourth, Becket said, has used the cross for his own “satanic purposes.”

“Religious symbols aren’t like graffiti that the government should erase as soon as someone complains,” said Luke Goodrich, senior counsel for Becket.

Pope Francis tells gay man ‘God made you like this and loves you like this’

Sofia Petkar –  May 21, 2018

In a private dialogue, the Pontiff is understood to have told Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests, that God loves gay people and it is fine to be homosexual.

The comments are the most striking public acceptance about homosexuality ever made by a head of the Roman Catholic Church.

The remarks were made during a private meeting at the Vatican between the pair, in which the Pope offered a heartfelt apology.

Cruz was a victim of Chile’s most notorious paedophile priest Fernando Karadima.

Father Karadima, now aged 87, was found guilty of sexual abuse by the Vatican in 2011.

Parent Outraged After School Gives Students Worksheet on Writing Islamic Faith Declaration

Samuel Smith – May 17, 2018

A Christian parent in West Virginia has voiced outrage after his seventh-grade daughter brought home a packet from her social studies class this week that includes a page asking students to practice writing the Islamic declaration of faith in Arabic calligraphy.

Rich Penkoski, a conservative Christian who runs an online ministry called Warriors for Christ, contacted Principal Ron Branch at Mountain Ridge Middle School in Gerrardstown to voice his concerns about the packet on Islam that was given out as part of the class’ world religions unit.

While the packet went into detail about the history of Islam, the prophet Muhammad and the five pillars of the religion, Penkoski was most upset with a worksheet toward the end of the packet that instructs students to practice calligraphy by copying the Arabic form of the Shahada by hand.

The Shahada, one of the pillars of Islam, is the Islamic profession of faith that declares belief in one true God and Muhammad being a messenger of God.

Indonesia: Deadly Surabaya church attacks committed by family

DW – May 13, 2018

At least 13 people were killed and around 40 were injured on Sunday, when explosions hit three churches during morning Mass in the Indonesia’s second-largest city, Surabaya.

Police said the three churches were hit by a family of suicide bombers with links to the local extremist network Jamaah Ansharut Daulah (JAD), which supports the “Islamic State” (IS) jihadist group. Authorities warned that the death toll is likely to rise.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo was quick to condemn the attacks and the use of children as suicide bombers. “These terrorist attacks are cruel and inhuman,” Widodo said after visiting victims at a hospital in Surabaya. “There are no words to describe our sorrow for the victims of this act of terrorism.”

One witness at the Diponegoro Christian Church told local media that the mother and her daughters were initially denied access to the church grounds by security guards, but they insisted and forced their way inside. “Suddenly she hugged a civilian then (the bomb) exploded,” the witness said.

Democratic senators from Minnesota are offended by bill to put ‘In God We Trust’ posters in schools

Teri Webster – May 6, 2018

Two Democratic state senators from Minnesota – Scott Dibble and John Marty – are opposed to a bill asking schools to display a poster with the words “In God We Trust.”

Republican Sen. Dan Hall sponsored the bill in an attempt to help bring respect back to schools, he told “Fox & Friends” on Sunday.

“I only assume that if you take those things out of government, if you take the things that are respectful out, you’re going to put in something different,” Hall said. “We need to bring respect back to our country.”

Private funds would be used to pay for the posters. But Dibble and Marty argue that the posters could be viewed as “offensive.”

Pope Invites Leaders of All Christian Denominations in the Mideast to Peace Summit

Philip Pullella – April 25, 2018

Pope Francis has invited leaders of all Christian denominations in the Middle East to join him in Italy in July to discuss how they can help bring peace to the region, the Vatican said on Wednesday.

The meeting will take place on July 7 in the southern Adriatic port city of Bari, chosen because it is home to the relics of St. Nicholas, a figure venerated in both the Western and Eastern branches of Christianity.

Nicholas, who lived about 1,700 years ago in what is today Turkey, is particularly honored by Christian Orthodox Churches in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon in the Middle East.

Nicholas is also widely venerated among Orthodox Christians in Russia, which is Syria’s ally in the civil war.

The Vatican said the encounter would be an “ecumenical meeting for peace” where the religious leaders would discuss “the dramatic situation of the Middle East that afflicts so many brothers and sisters in the faith.”

Board votes to shut down Alberta Christian school for teaching Bible verses about sexuality

Brenton Driedger – May 1, 2018

CAMROSE, Alta. — An Alberta Christian school that clashed with its school division over teaching certain Bible verses may be forced to shut down.

The Battle River School Division voted last week to close Cornerstone Christian Academy in Kingman, Alta., southeast of Edmonton at the end of the school year.

The relationship started to fray about a year ago when the school division asked the school to stop teaching certain Bible verses that discussed sexuality.

School division trustees said that they believed the verses could contravene Alberta’s human rights code.

School board chairman Kendall Severson said that was eventually dealt with, but the bigger issue was a lack of co-operation.

U.S. Report Finds Religious Freedom Conditions ‘Continued to Deteriorate’ Worldwide in 2017

– May 3, 2018

WASHINGTON — An annual government report outlining the state of affairs for religious freedom across the globe has found that “conditions continued to deteriorate” and remained on a “downward trend” in 2017.

“Religious freedom conditions continued to deteriorate in countries across the globe in 2017. This ongoing downward trend often intersected with authoritarian practices characterized by hostility toward dissent, pluralism, independent media, and active civil society, or took place under the guise of protecting national security or countering terrorism,” wrote the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) in its 2018 report.

The document focused on 28 countries that have most egregiously persecuted residents for their faith.

“The most severe abuses included genocide and other mass atrocities, killings, enslavement, rape, imprisonment, forced displacement, forced conversions, intimidation, harassment, property destruction, the marginalization of women, and bans on children participating in religious activities or education,” it outlined.

Trump Signs Executive Order to Give Faith-Based Groups ‘Equal Access to Government Funding’

Melanie Arter – May 3, 2018

( – President Donald Trump marked the National Day of Prayer by signing an executive order aimed at helping faith-based groups gain “equal access to government funding” and to ensure they have “equal right to exercise” their religious beliefs.

“I will soon be signing an executive order to create a faith initiative at the White House. The faith initiative will help design new policies that recognize the vital role of faith in our families, our communities, and our great country. This office will also help ensure that faith-based organizations have equal access to government funding and the equal right to exercise their deeply held beliefs,” Trump said in a Rose Garden ceremony.

“We take this step because we know that, in solving the many, many problems and our great challenges, faith is more powerful than government, and nothing is more powerful than God,” he said.

New Bill Banning Biblical Views on Sexual Identity Forces Ministry to Shut Down Conference

– May 2, 2018

A new California bill is the reason Summit Ministries has decided to cancel their upcoming conference at Biola University outside of  Los Angeles.

The Ministry is being forced to cancel due to the possibility that what they teach will go against the new California law.

AB 2943 an Assembly Bill that states that any book or conference that preaches against things like homosexuality or transgenderism cannot be allowed.

AB 2943 states that any biblical books (including the Bible) cannot be taught, and anyone who does  will risk being penalized. Same goes for preaching at a conference, hence why Summit Ministries had to cancel their conference at Biola University.