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from The Los Angeles Times:

A Northern California pastor has parted ways with his church following outrage over a sign outside the parish that read, “Bruce Jenner is still a man, homosexuality is still a sin.”

The sign, shared on the pastor’s Facebook page, sparked protests and national news coverage. Justin Hoke announced his departure on the Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church Facebook page on Saturday evening.

“I was informed that essentially all but one couple in membership would leave the church if I continued as pastor of TBPC,” Hoke said in his post. Another church elder agreed to assume pastoral responsibilities, according to Hoke, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The church has been under fire since the sign went up less than two weeks ago, targeting transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner. Hoke first announced that the message was going up outside the church through a Facebook post.

“The response we’re receiving from this sign proves that it was posted way too late,” Hoke commented under a photo he shared of the sign. “If a conservative mountain farming community is no longer a safe place to call sin, sin. Then is anywhere in this country still safe for real Christians?”

The church is located in Siskiyou County, near the Oregon border.

Someone vandalized the sign earlier this week, breaking the Plexiglas and stealing some of the letters. It went back up the following day with essentially the same message.

The sign prompted a few people to organize the Shastina Love Rally “to show our love and support for the LBGTQ community; not only to our community, but worldwide.” The first rally took place Jan. 6, and the second one is planned for Sunday.

Amelia Mallory, a resident of Lake Shastina and organizer of the rally, said the sign was shocking. When the organizers reached out to the pastor about taking down the sign, “He seemed really not open to the idea,” she said.

“Even acknowledging that we live in a more rural, and generally a more conservative area — the fact that somebody thought that that would be accepted by our community was definitely surprising,” Mallory said.

The rally organizers applauded the congregation for being “willing to stand on their convictions,” but also expressed concern for Hoke and his family.

On the church’s Facebook post announcing the pastor’s departure, Mallory offered to help take down the sign.

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from MSN:

This holiday season, the Illinois State Capitol is celebrating both Santa and Satan.

A statue designed and funded by the Satanic Temple of Chicago is on display in the statehouse in Springfield along with a Christmas tree, nativity scene, and a menorah.

The resin sculpture, which the Satanic Temple has dubbed a “Snaketivity,” depicts a hand holding an apple, with a snake wrapped around it.

The figure rests on a base that reads “Knowledge is the greatest gift.”

When Chicago’s Satanic Temple announced the design on Instagram last month, the group said they were “bringing a message to the Illinois state capital that religious freedom means freedom of representation for ALL religions… not just the ones that don’t offend Christians.”

The group launched a GoFundMe page with the goal of raising $1,500 to cover construction, transportation and installation costs.

“Please consider what you may do to help us bring Satan to Springfield!,” the page read. The group raised $1,700.

The Satanic Temple has chapters all over the country. According to their website, the goal of the group is to “encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will.”

The statue will remain in the capitol until Dec. 29. Illinois residents have mixed feelings about its presence, according to NBC affiliate WMBF.

“I suppose it is their free speech rights to do that, so I can’t deny that. But do I agree with it? Absolutely not,” said Garret Moffett. “I can’t disagree with the statement in itself but when it’s coming from a satanic or a cult group, my response would be that everything about Satan is a lie.”

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from pjmedia:

Late last month, Ramin Parsa, a Christian pastor who fled Iran as a religious refugee, was arrested for privately sharing his faith testimony in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. He fled persecution in Iran and Turkey, only to find persecution in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

“I came to the U.S. as a political and religious — as a Christian — refugee. They oppressed me for my faith in Iran. I was stabbed in Iran,” Parsa told PJ Media in an interview on Tuesday. Then last week, he was arrested for a private conversation about his faith, handcuffed to a metal chair for four hours without water, and later charged with trespassing.

“These things might happen in other countries, oppressive dictatorships, but not in America,” the pastor said.

Parsa, a pastor at Redemptive Love Ministries International in Los Angeles, Calif., traveled to Minnesota for two days to visit two different churches. He went to the Mall of America (MOA) on Saturday, August 25, with an elder from one of the churches, and with the elder’s 14-year-old son. Shortly after entering the mall, he struck up a conversation with two Somali-American women.

“Our conversation was casual. At first, we were not talking about the gospel,” Parsa recalled. “They asked me, ‘Are you a Muslim?’ I said, ‘No, I used to be a Muslim and I’m a Christian now.’ I was telling them the story of how I converted.”

A passerby could not stand the discussion, however. “Another lady told the guard, ‘This guy is harassing us!'” MOA security came and told Parsa to stop soliciting. “I said, ‘We’re not soliciting.’ But we just left,” the pastor explained.

The pastor and his friends went into a coffee shop, bought a latte, and came out. Parsa told PJ Media he thought that would be the end of it. He was sorely mistaken.

“When we came out of the coffee shop, three guards were waiting for us, and they arrested me right there,” the pastor recalled. “They came after me and arrested me, and said, ‘You cannot talk religion here.'”

Parsa told security he was a pastor. “They told me, ‘We arrested pastors before,'” he recalled, still shocked by the answer. “It was something normal for them, they were used to it.”

Meanwhile, the two Somali-American women who wanted to hear the pastor’s story argued with the woman who reported him to security. They defended Parsa. Onlookers asked why the man was being arrested. “They said, ‘Because he’s a Christian,'” Parsa told PJ Media.

All this was bad enough, but the guards proceeded to abuse the pastor once he was in custody.

“They handcuffed both my hands to a metal chair that was bolted to the ground in a basement,” Parsa said. He said it reminded him of the KGB, the notorious secret police in the Soviet Union.

“They began to file a report and they wanted to take my picture. I said, ‘You cannot take my picture — you arrested me wrongfully,'” the pastor recalled. “They said, ‘Then you’re going to stay here longer.'”

Later, Parsa asked for a glass of water. They refused, unless he would allow them to take his picture. He asked to go to the bathroom. Again, they refused. Shortly before the police came, his captors relented.

“He gave me half of a really small cup of water,” the pastor said. “He was trying to buy me out with that water.”

After nearly four hours, the police arrived.

“The police came to open my handcuffs, and the handcuffs were very tight. It was hurting my hands,” Parsa recalled. “The guard said, ‘I don’t think it hurts that much.'”

He suggested that the security guards treated him with special malice because he is a pastor. “I believe they treated me worse,” he insisted.

The Mall of America did not respond to PJ Media’s request for comment.

After the police took the pastor’s mugshot and fingerprints, they charged him with criminal trespassing. He paid $78 to bail himself out, and his friends picked him up at 2 a.m. While that bail amount may seem low, the pastor insisted, “Every cent is too much for something I haven’t done.”

“I’ve gone through this before — in Muslim countries I was arrested for passing out bibles,” Parsa said. “I didn’t expect that would happen in America. As a citizen in America, I have rights. They denied my basic rights.”

The pastor compared the mistreatment he suffered in Minnesota to the persecution he faced in Iran and Turkey.

“When I became a Christian, I was stabbed, I ran away from Iran. I went to Turkey for two years as a refugee. We had a church and we were passing out Bibles. I was arrested,” Parsa recounted. He mentioned Pastor Andrew Brunson, an American pastor imprisoned in Turkey and charged with terrorism. “They thought the American government was paying us to pass out bibles. I said I wish they would,” he remarked, wryly.

When at last he came to America, he was relieved. “With tears in my eyes, I was so thankful to be in America, where I can express myself, nobody can stop me or oppress me for my faith… and then this happened to me,” Parsa said.

When his family heard the news, they thought it couldn’t possibly have happened in America. “When they realized it happened here, they were really shocked,” the pastor remarked.

Parsa posted about the ordeal on Facebook, and shortly thereafter, the government of Iran arrested his cousin for handing out bibles. “We are praying that my cousin will make it out. My nephew is in hiding,” he said.

read the full article here.

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No this is not a satirical article. It is actually true! This is what happens when you cast yourself adrift from eternal truth, and into subjective truth along with a society that is concentrated on self! The unending selfishness of “me” constantly grinds against others subjective truth and everyone winds up destroying the ability to have a civil and stable society. Then an evil power that is united in hatred and a lust for power comes in and destroys what is left of the society and imposes an iron totalitarianism!  Do not believe me read human history and read God’s word!

from Metro:

Rejoice, Halloween lovers, the much-awaited day is almost within sight. And of course, that means lots of ‘spooky’ merchandise and retailers peddling anything related to pumpkins, ghosts, and witches. Beauty Brand Sephora is kicking off the season with its ‘witches starter kit’ which includes perfume, tarot cards, sage, and a rose quartz crystal. But witches, who identify with the pagan religion of Wicca (or simply practice witchcraft), are not happy with the French company making a quick buck out of their beliefs.

‘Sephora is definitely guilty of culture appropriation,’ Indigo, who practices witchcraft, told Metro.co.uk.

‘I don’t think they’re doing it to spread awareness about the craft, they’re doing it just for profit in my opinion.

‘Although most witches do use what’s in the Sephora box, most of us feel that it’s wrong for just anyone to grab those things and be like “oh hey I’m a witch now” because it’s sacred to us.’

Other followers of the faith had similar views on Twitter.  ‘My religion is not a trendy overpriced aesthetic’, said one. This sentiment was shared by Siera who identifies with Pagan Witchcraft. She said: ‘Sephora selling “witch kits” actually makes me really upset. ‘Witchcraft isn’t something you just throw around, people put their entire being into this way of life and work so hard at it.

I’ve been made fun of way too much for being a witch for it to just become another trend.’ Another user, Katie, felt the same: ‘Witchcraft is a sacred and personal religion, not something to turn pastel and profit off of (sic),’ she said. ‘If you want to exploit my religion like this, you better make Tumblr aesthetic “entry-level kits” for all of the major world religions.’

Another Witchcraft follower. who was ‘appalled’. urged people to support local spiritual shops rather than a large chain retailer like Sephora.

But the backlash opened up other important discussions. Many online said Sephora was benefiting off parts of Wicca is akin to brands culturally appropriating other existing religions and cultures. Witches were criticised for not speaking up for other instances of appropriation whereby individuals or companies benefit from a minority group, usually without consent. Some also mentioned the use of white sage which is significant to Native Americans who use it for medicinal purposes and cleansing ceremonies. They were concerned that Sephora’s use of the sacred herb could make it difficult for indigenous Americans’ to perform their rituals (as a result of fewer sources).

 

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From Yahoo:

Vatican-backed family rally to have speech on welcoming gays

 An international family rally the Catholic Church is hosting in Ireland will feature workshops on hot-button issues facing Catholic families, including protecting children from clergy sexual abuse, weathering divorce and ministering to lesbian and gay faithful.

Pope Francis will join the Aug. 21-26 World Meeting of Families for the last two days and preside over the final Mass in Dublin.

Organizers on Monday unveiled the pastoral program leading up to Francis’ arrival, and it includes some surprising entries. Perhaps none is more surprising than the inclusion of the Rev. James Martin, an American Jesuit scheduled to deliver a presentation on welcoming LGBT Catholics and their families into parishes.

Martin, author of “Building a Bridge,” about Catholic outreach to the LGBT community, has had several talks canceled in the United States in recent months because of pressure from conservative groups who oppose his call for the church to better accompany gay Catholics.

Martin told The Associated Press it was “immensely significant” that a Vatican-backed meeting would include his presentation, saying it showed “that LGBT Catholics and their parents are an important part of our church.”

“The message from the Vatican to LGBT Catholics is this: you belong,” he said.

Martin recalled that during the previous World Meeting of Families, held in Philadelphia in 2015, the only official event about gay Catholics featured a gay man and his mother speaking about chastity.

Martin’s talk is not the only meeting event indicating that organizers were keen to follow Francis’ lead and reach out to some of the most marginalized Catholics. Other workshops are on Catholics suffering from addiction and domestic violence, coping with family members in prison and homelessness.

Others are perhaps addressed to a broader audience: how to find time to pray in a digital age, women in leadership, teenagers in the digital world.

One of the major panels is on child protection, and features the pope’s top adviser on sexual abuse prevention, Cardinal Sean O’Malley. Joining him is Marie Collins, an Irish survivor of abuse who resigned from O’Malley’s panel last year in frustration over the Vatican’s resistance to listening to victims.

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from abcnews go:

A California family has been fined for holding weekly Bible studies in their home, meetings that are allegedly in violation of the city’s zoning regulations.

Stephanie and Chuck Fromm have been living in their San Juan Capistrano home for 18 years and were shocked when they received a notice of violation from the city. They have already been fined $300 and have been told they will be fined an additional $500 per meeting if they continue to meet without a Conditional Use Permit.

But they’re not backing down.

“Nobody should be able to tell us what we can do in our home,” Stephanie Fromm said. “Since when do we have to qualify who we have at our house and what we’re doing?”

The Fromms regularly host 40 to 50 friends and family members at their home from 10 a.m. to noon on Sundays for Bible studies. They don’t think noise or traffic issues are to blame for the citation. There is no music, and the meetings, they say, are largely “contemplative.”

Many who attend the Bible study drive to the house together, so there are many fewer cars than people, the Fromms say. They only have one next-door neighbor, and the space on the other side of their house is more than six acres of empty land.

They say one disgruntled neighbor has set off the entire situation, while the rest of the neighborhood has no problem with the meetings and are supportive of the family.

“We have a neighbor that’s cross at us and contacted the zoning department,” Chuck Fromm said. “It feels sort of like a snitch system. There’s no due process. It’s arbitrary. We’re reasonable, rational people but we don’t have a reasonable, rational system.”

An attorney from the Pacific Justice Institute, a national organization that provides volunteer attorneys in battles to defend religious freedom, is representing the Fromms.

“It’s a huge abridgement to personal freedom, to privacy and to religious liberty,” said Brad Dacus, the couple’s attorney. “An individual’s home is probably the most revered in terms of an individual’s right to gather, to pray and to exercise their religion, particularly with their friends and family.”

Millions of Americans regularly gather at Bible studies, a tradition dating far back into American history, Dacus pointed out.

“If this Bible study is not allowed—if they’re not allowed to exercise their rights under the First Amendment—then the floodgates will be open wide for every Bible study in the country to potentially be on the chopping block by their local government,” Dacus said.

The ordinance in question identified “religious, fraternal, or nonprofit organizations as uses which require approval of a conditional use permit,” said Dacus. This would include organizations like the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts, continued Dacus, adding that the vagueness of the word “fraternal” could even include groups who meet weekly to watch Sunday Night Football.

“It’s an overabuse of authority and discretion for any local government to say a family like the Fromms must pay money to the city and get their prior consent to engage in such a fundamentally traditional use of their own home,” Dacus said.

The San Juan Capistrano City Attorney’s Office did not respond to requests for comment.

But, for now, Chuck Fromm is clear about his plan: “We’ll meet and they can charge us.” Both he and Dacus say they are willing to do whatever it takes to fight this problem.

“The Pacific Justice Institute is committed to taking this all the way to the Supreme Court, if need be, not just for the Fromms, but for every other family in the United States looking to exercise the same freedom,” Dacus said.

And Stephanie Fromm, who her husband describes as “a real host with the most,” said she just wants to host her loved ones for Bible studies in her home without worrying about being fined or interrogated.

“We’re not pot-stirrers. We are surprised and sad,” she said. “It just doesn’t make our city look like the community that we came into to raise our children. We love our community. We will stand up for our faith and for the use of our home.”

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from Zero Hedge:

Europe is a hugely diverse place in terms of culture, language and especially religion. The European Social Survey 2014-2016 found that across the continent, there is a huge difference in the share of young people identifying as having no religion.

Statista’s Niall McCarthy reports  that the research found that the youth in Poland are still quite religious with only 17 percent of respondents aged 16-29 not associating themselves with any religion.

The situation is much different in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands where 7 out of 10 young adults identify as having no religion.

You will find more infographics at Statista

The highest share on non-religious youth was recorded in the Czech Republic where the share stood at 91 percent.Estonia came second with 80 percent while Sweden was third with 75 percent.

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