- Created on 18 November 2012
Romans 1:16 –– For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.
Titus 3:4-5 –– But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 6:9-10 –– Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
- Created on 15 November 2012
A controversial ad that a local Muslim organization is calling "racist" and the CTA is calling "divisive" popped up on 10 buses Wednesday.
"In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad," the ad reads.
The ad is financed by conservative blogger Pamela Geller and her organization, American Freedom Defense Initiative. It has caused controversy — and some legal challenges — in Detroit, New York City and Washington, D.C.
One of the group's goals is to counter pro-Islamic bus and billboard campaigns with its own messages, Geller says on her blog.
Courts in other cities have agreed that the group violated anti-demeaning standards that are similar to the CTA's, but that the First Amendment protected the ad.
The CTA agrees, and without a legal challenge, it's allowing the ad to run on 10 buses for four weeks.
- Created on 13 November 2012
(AP) — A subdued U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops acknowledged Monday that voters rejected the stands they took against gay marriage and birth control, but church leaders gave no sign they would change their strategy ahead.
Same-sex marriage supporters made a four-state sweep of ballot measures last week, despite intensive advocacy by Roman Catholic bishops in favor of traditional marriage. Bishops also spoke out sharply against President Barack Obama's mandate that most employers provide health insurance that covers artificial contraception. Critics accused the bishops of going so far that they appeared to be backing Republican Mitt Romney.
The bishops insist their complaints were not partisan. Still, they now face four more years with an administration many of them characterized as a threat to the church.
"We've always maintained our openness to dialogue, and that will continue," said Baltimore Archbishop William Lori, who leads the bishops' committee on religious liberty. Regarding the birth-control mandate, Lori said, "As this evolves, as rule-making gets a little more clear, then our range of options will be clearer."
None of the bishops who spoke Monday directly mentioned Obama. Lori only noted that "the political landscape is the same." The bishops instead reviewed plans they developed well before Election Day to expand outreach to Latino Catholics on traditional marriage and organize events on the importance of religious freedom.
Obama won the overall Catholic vote, 50 percent to 48 percent, but Catholics split on ethnic lines. White Catholics supported Romney, 59 percent to 40 percent. However, Latino Catholics went for Obama, 75 percent to 21 percent.
Last week, Maine, Maryland and Washington became the first states ever to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote. In Minnesota, voters rejected a proposal to place a ban on gay-marriage in the state constitution, a step taken in past elections in 30 other states.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, the newly installed leader of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, said gay marriage opponents were outspent by gay rights groups, and bishops are grappling with how they can be more persuasive. Surveys by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life have found that the number of Americans who say they have no religion is at a high of 20 percent, while the number of former Catholics is so large that ex-Catholics collectively include more people than many denominations.
"The election is a symptom of a much larger problem," Cordileone said. "Most people don't understand what marriage is."
Equally Blessed, a coalition of Catholic groups that advocate for gays and lesbians, including Dignity USA and New Ways Ministry, said it had hoped that the votes on gay marriage last week would "drive home the need for the bishops to take seriously the concerns of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholics and their families." The group said Monday that it was "profoundly disappointed" that the bishops plan to continue their current approach to advocacy.
On health care, the Obama administration's birth control requirement exempts houses of worship, but does not exclude religiously affiliated hospitals and nonprofits. Obama promised to change the requirement so that insurance companies and not faith-affiliated employers would pay for the coverage. But details have not been worked out. And not only the bishops, but Catholic hospitals and some other religious leaders generally supportive of Obama's policies are saying the compromise appears to be unworkable.
Dozens of dioceses and Catholic nonprofits are suing the Obama administration over the mandate, arguing the requirement violates religious freedom.
Steve Schneck, a political scientist at the Catholic University of America who campaigned for Obama, said the bishops need to quickly reach out to the administration because the opportunity to strike a compromise will be limited once the court cases move forward.
"It's something that I think the bishops should be working for if they're serious about trying to win exemptions for hospitals and charities and similar nonprofit institutions," Schneck said. "It's in the interest of the administration to resolve this thing ahead of the lawsuits."
- Created on 14 November 2012
When Pastor Tami Robinson (pictured) filed some paperwork with Tampa, Fla.'s Property Appraiser's office, changed the locks on two abandoned homes, and moved destitute families in, she thought she was doing God's work. Yet the pastor's deeds were instead rewarded with handcuffs by area police for burglary, fraud, and grand theft, reports Tampa Bay Times.
Robinson, who was arrested along with fellow church member Samantha Magras-Gavin last month, are now suing the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office because the women feel that they were unfairly harassed by the sheriff's deputies due to the color of their skin.
The women claim that they never intended to break the law and used a rather obscure legal concept to gain entry in to the homes called "adverse possession." According to Florida Statute 95.18, a judge can be asked by an interested party to declare an abandoned property theirs if they repair and occupy it for seven years while paying the property's taxes.
Robinson claims she tried to correspond with the property's owner by sending a letter stating that she was attempting to establish adverse possession. The pastor says that if the homeowner had any objections to her move, she would have abandoned her attempts to possess the property.
"I didn't want to do anything illegal," Robinson said. "And if this is so illegal, why does no one stop you and say, 'You can be put in jail, be called a criminal, be charged with grand theft?' At no time during my filing — or while talking to the Property Appraiser's Office — was I told this," she told Tampa Bay Times.
As for the homes in question, one was owned by a woman serving at a Texas air force base and the other owner planned on selling the property via a short sale.
According to Robinson's lawsuit:
"Plaintiffs are Christians who believe that God favors those who make beneficial and positive use of the resources of the earth. Plaintiffs believe that it is a sin to leave property unused or to force others to suffer for the avarice and hoarding gluttony of others, including the anonymous and soulless banks. Plaintiffs submit that they are doing the same work as Jesus did in clearing the money changers from God's first house."
The suit also contends that both Robinson and Magras-Gavin believe they were unjustly targeted based on their race and using the obscure law with regards to adverse possession in upper-middle-class homes.
Robinson says the arrest charges have marred her image in the community and that some members of her Well Pavilion Empowerment Center church in Ybor Heights have left.
The sheriff's office filed a motion to dismiss the suit. No court dates have been set in the civil case nor in the two women's criminal cases.
- Created on 11 November 2012
The Bible tells that we were wonderfully made. This tells us that we were made to be wonderful. If we were made to be wonderful, then we should be doing wonderful things. God has made us to do marvelous and wondrous things. If we are not accomplishing great things, it is not God's fault. We have to realize that God has already given us all we need to do what the world would call impossible. David did the impossible when he defeated the giant Goliath. Moses did the impossible when he parted the Red Sea. The Bible is full of examples of what man, with the power of God, can do in this world. Each one of us is capable of doing far more than we have ever thought possible. Today, let us know that God has made and ordained us to do marvelous and wondrous things in this world. Believe it and then let us achieve it.