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Location: Tallahassee, Florida, United States welcomes all opinions from any religion or viewpoint in the common appreciation of Chick tracts. This blog, however, will highlight religious events and controversies that would be of special interest to regular Chick readers. You don't have to agree with them or each other, but if you read Chick tracts or Battlecry, you might expect these type stories to be addressed. (Sorry, no personal attacks allowed.) All main postings are from writers and any responses are from the public

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Three States Start Gay Marriage

Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington state approved gay marriage in November, making them the first states to do so by popular vote. Gay marriage already was legal in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia, but those laws were either enacted by liberal lawmakers or through activist judges.
In Maine, Gov. Paul LePage signed off on the certified election results on Nov. 29, so the new law was to go into effect 30 days from that date. The law already is in effect in Washington state; Maryland's takes effect on Tuesday, the first day of 2013.
Nobody knew exactly how many couples would be rushing to get their marriage licenses early Saturday in Maine. Falmouth joined Portland in opening at midnight. Other communities including Bangor, Brunswick and Augusta planned to hold special Saturday hours.
Fourteen couples received marriage licenses, and five of them married on the spot, a city spokeswoman said. Many of those who received their marriage license were middle-aged, and some said they never envisioned a day when gay couples could wed just like straight couples. 
Ever since Obama flip-flopped on his position on gay marriage, many in the black community who were opposed to it on religious grounds flip-flopped as well (on political grounds), and several blue states passed the new law in the last election. See Chick's SIN CITY. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gun Control Activist Scams Sandy Donors

NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) - The family of Noah Pozner was mourning the 6-year-old, killed in the Newtown school massacre, when outrage compounded their sorrow.

Someone they didn't know was soliciting donations in Noah's memory, claiming that they'd send any cards, packages and money collected to his parents and siblings. An official-looking website had been set up, with Noah's name as the address, even including petitions on gun control.

Noah's uncle, Alexis Haller, called on law enforcement authorities to seek out "these despicable people."

"These scammers," he said, "are taking away from families and the spirits of dead kids."

It's a problem as familiar as it is disturbing. Tragedy strikes - be it a natural disaster, a gunman's rampage or a terrorist attack - and scam artists move in.

It happened after 9/11. It happened after Columbine. It happened after Hurricane Katrina. And after this summer's movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo.

Sometimes fraud takes the form of bogus charities asking for donations that never get sent to victims. Natural disasters bring another dimension: Scammers try to get government relief money they're not eligible for.

"It's abominable," said Ken Berger, president and CEO of Charity Navigator, which evaluates the performance of charities. "It's just the lowest kind of thievery."

Noah Pozner's relatives found out about one bogus solicitation when a friend received an email asking for money for the family. Poorly punctuated, it gave details about Noah, his funeral and his family. It directed people to send donations to an address in the Bronx, one that the Pozners had never heard of.

It listed a New York City phone number to text with questions about how to donate. When a reporter texted that number Wednesday, a reply came advising the donation go to the United Way.

The Pozner family had the website transferred to its ownership. Victoria Haller, Noah's aunt, emailed the person who had originally registered the name. The person, who went by the name Jason Martin, wrote back that he'd meant "to somehow honor Noah and help promote a safer gun culture."

It is also typical that after a mass shooting, various gun control activists seek to exploit the situation by raising hysteria and emotions to pass new laws, raise money, or influence elections. New restrictions are being proposed from the White House with an emphasis on challenging 2nd amendment rights within a month, before public hysteria subsides. See Chick's THE SCAM. 

Christian in Iran Tossed in Jail for Preaching

Rev. Saeed Abedini, a 32-year-old U.S. citizen and a Christian convert of Iranian origin has been imprisoned without charges in one of Iran's notorious prisons due to his work in Iran's underground Christian community.
According to the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative Christian group which announced today it would be representing the pastor, Saeed was granted U.S. citizenship in 2010 when he married his American wife. He and his wife, Naghmeh, have two children, a 6-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son. And in 2008 Saeed was ordained as a minister with the American Evangelistic Association.
While in the past the Iranian government has allowed Saeed to travel back and forth between his adopted home and Iran, during a trip to the country in August,government agents pulled him off a bus and jailed him, according to Fox News.
"When he became a Christian, he became a criminal in his own country. His passion was to reach the people of Iran," his wife Naghmeh told Fox News. "He comes from a very close-knit family, and he loved evangelizing and passing out Bibles on the streets of Tehran. This was his passion," she said.
Saeed is currently awaiting trial in Iran's Evin Prison, which has maintained a brutal reputation and holds many of the country's political prisoners.
In a statement, Saeed's new lawyers from the ACLJ said their client may soon face the death penalty.
"This is a very troubling pattern that we have seen inside Iran - Christian husbands and fathers who are punished for their religious beliefs," said Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the ACLJ. "What makes this particular case so much more disturbing is that Pastor Saeed, who was born and raised in Iran, has been granted U.S. citizenship. He's been in prison for nearly three months simply because of his Christian faith. Now, he's been indicted by an Iranian court - a development that could very well result in a death sentence. In addition to our legal work, it's important to get this story out - to generate global support for Pastor Saeed and to engage the U.N. and the U.S. government in securing his release."
The ACLJ has made freeing Iranian Christians part of its mission. They helped launch an international media campaign earlier this year thatcontributed to the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who was found guilty in 2010 of apostasy and sentenced to death for refusing to recant his Christian beliefs.
After Nadarkhani's release in September, Fox noted that several other Christians remain imprisoned in the majority-Muslim country due to religious beliefs. Islam is the official religion in Iran, and according to the CIA, 98 percent of the country's population is Muslim.
Under Shariah, or Islamic law, a Muslim who converts to Christianity can be given the death penalty, reports Fox News. See Chick's MEN OF PEACE?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Catholic Brazil Up in Divorce

SAO PAULO -- The number of Brazilians getting divorces is at a record high.
That's according to the South American nation's IBGE statistics agency.
The agency says Monday that more than 350,000 divorces occurred in 2011. That's up 46 percent from just the year before.
The reason is because Congress enacted a law that makes it quicker and easier to get a divorce in the most populous Catholic nation on earth.
Before, Brazilians had to be separated with a judge's approval for a year before they could seek a divorce. Now, there is no need for unhappy couples to wait.
The statistics agency says that prompted the record high in divorces, which have been tracked in Brazil since 1984. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Mass Killer Said To Be A "Goth"

WASHINGTON (AP) – He was an honors student who lived in a prosperous neighborhood with his mother, a well-liked woman who enjoyed hosting dice games and decorating the house for the holidays.
Now Adam Lanza is suspected of killing his mother and then gunning down more than two dozen people, 20 of them children, at a Connecticut grade school before taking his own life.
The 20-year-old may have suffered from a personality disorder, law enforcement officials said.
Investigators were trying to learn as much as possible about Lanza and questioned his older brother, who is not believed to have any involvement in the rampage.
Lanza shot his mother at their home before driving her car to Sandy Hook Elementary School and – armed with at least two handguns – carried out the massacre, officials said.
A third weapon, a .223-caliber rifle, was found in the car, and more guns were recovered during the investigation.
So far, authorities have not spoken publicly of any possible motive. They found no note or manifesto, and Lanza had no criminal history.
Witnesses said the shooter didn't utter a word.
Lanza's aunt said her nephew was raised by kind, nurturing parents who would not have hesitated to seek mental help for him if he needed it.
Marsha Lanza, of Crystal Lake, Ill., said she was close with Adam Lanza's mother and sent her a Facebook message Friday morning asking how she was doing. Nancy Lanza never responded.
Marsha Lanza described Nancy Lanza as a good mother and kind-hearted.
If her son had needed counseling, "Nancy wasn't one to deny reality," she told The Associated Press late Friday.
Marsha Lanza said her husband saw Adam as recently as June and recalled nothing out of the ordinary about him.
Catherine Urso, who was attending a vigil Friday evening in Newtown, Conn., said her college-age son knew the killer and remembered him for his alternative style.
"He just said he was very thin, very remote and was one of the goths," she said.
Goths are a subculture that typically wears a lot of black, and are into "the darker side of the world". They are commonly critical of society and religion in general. The usual stereotype is that they are fascinated by death, may toy with suicidal thoughts, and some "cut themselves" to feel more alive. However, there are plenty of others who only imitate their appearance to make a fashion statement. See Chick's NO FEAR. 

Huckabee Urges Return to Traditional School Prayer

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) weighed in on the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. on Friday, saying the crime was no surprise because we have "systematically removed God" from public schools.
"We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools," Huckabee said on Fox News. "Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?"
Speaking about a mass shooting in Aurora, Colo. over the summer, the former GOP presidential candidate claimed that such violent episodes were a function of a nation suffering from the removal of religion from the public sphere.
"We don't have a crime problem, a gun problem or even a violence problem. What we have is a sin problem," Huckabee said on Fox News. "And since we've ordered God out of our schools, and communities, the military and public conversations, you know we really shouldn't act so surprised ... when all hell breaks loose."
It is historically accurate that when schools encouraged religion, there was never any shootings in schools, churches, or other random public place in America. Huckabee is not the only one to believe that the (then) widespread fear of damnation kept mentally unbalanced people from resorting to mass violence against strangers. 
Adam Lanza, 20, is the suspect in a school shooting that left 27 dead Friday, including 20 children. Lanza is reportedly the son of a teacher at the school where the shootings occurred. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Vatican Says World Won't End (soon)

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican's top astronomer has some assurances to offer: The world won't be ending in 10 days, despite predictions to the contrary.
The Rev. Jose Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, wrote in Wednesday's Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano that "it's not even worth discussing" doomsday scenarios based on the Mayan calendar that are flooding the Internet ahead of the purported Dec. 21 apocalypse.
Yes, Funes wrote, the universe is expanding and if some models are correct, will at one point "break away" – but not for billions of years. But he said Christians profoundly believe that "death can never have the last word."
The Mayan Long Count calendar begins in 3,114 B.C., marking time in roughly 394-year periods known as Baktuns. The Mayans wrote that the significant 13th Baktun ends Dec. 21. See Chick's MAN IN BLACK? 

Evidence of Ark?

Robert Ballard, one of the world's most famous underwater explorers, has set his sights on proving the existence of one of the Bible's most well known stories.
In an interview with ABC's Christiane Amanpour the archaeologist who discovered the Titanic discussed his findings from his search in Turkey for evidence of a civilization swept away by a monstrous ancient flood.
"We went in there to look for the flood," Ballard said. "Not just a slow moving, advancing rise of sea level, but a really big flood that then stayed... The land that went under stayed under."
Many have claimed to have discovered evidence of Noah's Ark, the huge ship that Noah filled with two of each creature to repopulate the planet following God's devastating flood. But in the 1990s, geologists William Ryan and Walter Pitman gathered compelling evidence that showed a flood--if not an ark--may have occurredin the Middle East region about 7,500 years ago, PBS reports.
The theory, the Guardian reports, is that a rising Mediterranean Sea pushed a channel through what is now the Bosphorus, submerging the original shoreline of the Black Sea in a deluge flowing at about 200 times the volume of Niagara Falls and extending out for 100,000 square miles.
Ballard has been exploring this theory for more than a decade, National Geographic reports, first discovering evidence of a submerged ancient shoreline in 1999. At that point, Ballard was still not convinced this was a biblical flood, according to the Guardian. Last year, his team found a vessel and one of its crew members in the Black Sea, according to ABC.
Ballard is using advanced robotic technology to travel back nearly 12,000 years to a time when much of the Earth was covered in ice, ABC reports. If and when this ice started to melt, massive floods may have surged through parts of the globe, wreaking havoc on anything and anyone in its way.
With an impressive track record (besides the Titanic, Ballard also found the wreck of the battleship, Bismarck, and a U.S. fleet lost off Guadalcanal in the Pacific) and plenty of confidence, Ballard remains unfazed by critics. He plans on returning to Turkey next summer.
The story of Noah and his ark is a building block of Genesis, in the Old Testament. It is similar in some respects to the Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh, according to National Geographic, and the ancient Greeks, Romans and Native Americans all have their own variations on legendary flood stories. See Chick's KILLER STORM.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Just After Election, Chavez Admits His Cancer is Back

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced Saturday night that his cancer has returned and that he will undergo another surgery in Cuba.
Chavez, who won re-election on Oct. 7, also said for the first time that if his health were to worsen, his successor would be Vice President Nicolas Maduro. If the Socialist leader knew about his condition getting worse before the election, he didn't admit it. 
"We should guarantee the advance of the Bolivarian Revolution," Chavez said on television, seated at the presidential palace with Maduro and other aides.
The president said that tests had shown a return of "some malignant cells" in the same area where tumors were previously removed.
"I need to return to Havana tomorrow," Chavez said, adding that he would undergo surgery in the coming days.
Chavez called it a "new battle." It is to be his third operation to remove cancerous tissue in about a year and a half.
The 58-year-old president first underwent cancer surgery for an unspecified type of pelvic cancer in Cuba in June 2011, after an operation for a pelvic abscess earlier in the month found the cancer. He had another cancer surgery last February after a tumor appeared in the same area. He has also undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Chavez claimed tests immediately after his re-election win had shown no sign of cancer. But he said he had swelling and pain, which he thought was due to "the effort of the campaign and the radiation therapy treatment." There was no independent verification of his claims that he didn't know about the return of the cancer before the election. (Trying to get his successor elected without Chavez would have been very difficult.)
"It's a very sensitive area, so we started to pay a lot of attention to that," he said, adding that he had reduced his public appearances.
Chavez made his most recent trip to Cuba on the night of Nov. 27, saying he would receive hyperbaric oxygen treatment. Such treatment is regularly used to help heal tissues damaged by radiation treatment.
Chavez said that he has been coping with pain and that while he was in Cuba thorough exams detected the recurrence of cancer.
"I hope to give you all good news in the coming days," said Chavez, who held up a crucifix and expressed faith. See Chick's FAT CATS.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Israel Punishes Palestine For UN Vote for Statehood

Israel on Sunday roundly rejected the United Nations' endorsement of an independent state of Palestine, announcing it would withhold more than $100 million collected for the Palestinian government to pay debts to Israeli companies.
It was the second act of reprisal since the U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to support the Palestinians' statehood initiative. The following day, Israel announced it would start drawing up plans to build thousands of settlement homes, including the first-ever residential developments on a sensitive piece of land near Jerusalem. Actual construction would be years away.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the statehood campaign, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as "a gross violation of the agreements signed with the state of Israel."
Israel had agreed to a two state solution before its prime minister was assassinated by a Jewish Settler in 1995. They have since delayed the process while expanding settlements in occupied land.
"Accordingly, the government of Israel rejects the U.N General Assembly decision," Netanyahu said. Israel, backed by the U.S., campaigned against the statehood measure, arguing that only negotiations can deliver a Palestinian state.
Abbas returned home Sunday to a hero's welcome in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Some 5,000 people thronged a square outside his headquarters, hoisting Palestinian flags and cheering. Large posters of the Palestinian leader, whose popularity had plummeted in recent months, adorned nearby buildings.
"We now have a state," he said to wild applause. "The world has said loudly, `Yes to the state of Palestine.'"
Abbas warned of "creative punishments" by Israel. Referring to the latest settlement construction plans, he said, "We have to realize that your victory has provoked the powers of war, occupation and settlements because their isolation is deepened."
The U.N. resolution endorsed the Palestinian position that its state include the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip, territories captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war.
Israel rejects a full pullback to its 1967 lines and says the resolution is a way to bypass negotiations.
In Sunday's response, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said the government would withhold taxes and customs collected from Palestinian laborers and businesses on behalf of Abbas' Palestinian Authority, which led the statehood campaign.
The money will be used to help pay off the authority's debts to Israel, including $200 million owed to the state-run Israel Electric Corp., government officials said. This month, more than $100 million was to have been transferred. Steinitz said Israel would decide later whether to withhold future transfers as well.
The General Assembly decision late Thursday to accept "Palestine" as a non-member observer state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza did not grant actual independence to the 4.3 million Palestinians living in those areas.
Israel remains an occupying force in the first two territories and continues to severely restrict access to Gaza. The coastal strip, located on the opposite side of Israel from the West Bank, is now controlled by the militant Hamas. Israel withdrew in 2005.
Netanyahu sounded defiant on Sunday.
"Today we are building and we will continue to build in Jerusalem and in all areas that appear on Israel's map of strategic interests," he told his Cabinet.
Half a million settlers live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, the result of a decades-long strategy aimed at blurring the borders between Israel and the occupied territories.
Israel announced Friday that it would press ahead plans to build 3,000 housing units in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, the core of the Palestinians' hoped-for state.
More worrisome for the Palestinians, it vowed to dust off a master plan to build 3,600 apartments and 10 hotels on the section of territory east of Jerusalem known as E1. The Palestinians have warned that such construction would kill any hope for the creation of a viable state of Palestine.
Building there would sever the link between the West Bank and east Jerusalem, the sector of the holy city the Palestinians claim for a future capital, and cut off the northern part of the West Bank form its southern flank.
The announcement that Israel would forge ahead with construction plans came just days after the U.S. became the only world power to side with it in opposing the Palestinians' statehood bid.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said these plans "set back the cause of a negotiated peace."
Britain and France urged Israel to rescind the decision, and other European states denounced it.
The decision may be connected more to Israeli politics than an actual policy change. Netanyahu is up for re-election in Jan. 22 parliamentary elections and is eager to put on a strong face for the electorate. Actual construction could be years away, if it takes place at all.
"There is no decision to build," Housing Minister Ariel Attias told Army Radio on Sunday. "There is a decision to plan. You can't build an apartment without planning."
New figures from Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics showed that Netanyahu has actually slowed settlement construction over the past year.
The latest figures found that Israel began construction on 653 new settlement homes in the first nine months of 2012, down 26 percent from 886 housing starts during the same period a year earlier. See Chick's LOVE THE JEWISH PEOPLE.