PODCAST: School Stops Participation in Operation Christmas Child After Atheists Complains (UCNN 11.17.20)

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According to the Christian Post, A Kansas school has canceled its participation in Operation Christmas Child after an atheist group wrote to the school district alleging that the program “violates basic constitutional principles.” The annual project is sponsored by the Christian nonprofit Samaritan’s Purse, through which shoeboxes filled with gifts are sent to children in more than 160 nations. Liberty Middle School must “cease participation in Operation Christmas Child or taking any other actions promoting Christianity like including religious references over morning announcements,” the atheist legal group, Freedom From Religion Foundation, wrote to Tony Helfrich, the superintendent of Pratt School District, claiming “many egregious constitutional violations [are] occurring” at the school. Helfrich wrote in a Nov. 7 response letter to FFRF, “Regarding our students’ participation in ‘Operation Christmas Child,’ we are discontinuing that effort upon learning that its mission is more sectarian in nature than we realized.” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said in response to Helfrich’s decision, “A lot of these groups rely on school authorities being ignorant about their mission. We appreciate how swiftly the district discontinued the fundraising after our alert.” Samaritan’s Purse is led by the Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of the late evangelist Billy Graham. When children worldwide receive the shoeboxes filled with toys, they also hear the Gospel message and receive a booklet that teaches them about Jesus Christ.

According to the New York Times, More than 82,000 people have come forward with sex-abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America, describing a decades-long accumulation of assaults at the hands of scout leaders across the nation who had been trusted as role models. The claims, which lawyers said far eclipsed the number of abuse accusations filed in Catholic Church cases, continued to mount ahead of a Monday deadline established in bankruptcy court in Delaware, where the Boy Scouts had sought refuge this year in a bid to survive the demands for damages. Paul Mones, a lawyer who has been working on Boy Scouts cases for nearly two decades, said the prevalence of abuse detailed in the filings was breathtaking and might reflect only a fraction of victims. Mr. Mones said, “I knew there were a lot of cases. I never contemplated it would be a number close to this.” One coalition of attorneys, operating as the group Abused in Scouting, has clients from all 50 states along with cases in which the abuse occurred overseas at places such as military bases in Japan and Germany. The accusers range in age from 8 to 93. While the vast majority are men, some women have also filed complaints.

According to CBS News, Lighting up the night sky, four astronauts shot into orbit atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket Sunday for a 27-hour voyage to the International Space Station in the first operational flight of a commercially developed Crew Dragon capsule. Highlighting NASA’s ongoing drive to end its sole reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, the Falcon 9’s first stage engines ignited with a torrent of flaming exhaust at 7:27 p.m., pushing the 229-foot-tall rocket away from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center atop 1.7 million pounds of thrust. Commander Michael Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, strapped into the capsule they named “Resilience,” monitored the ascent on large touch-screen displays as the rocket quickly accelerated, arcing away to the northeast over the Atlantic Ocean. The on-shore weather was an issue most of the say Sunday, but threatening clouds and rain did not materialize and after last-minute work to re-seal the Crew Dragon’s hatch, the Falcon 9 was cleared for takeoff, thrilling thousands of area residents and tourists lining area roads and beaches amid NASA warnings to follow coronavirus protocols. Vice President Mike Pence, chairman of the National Space Council, flew in to take in the historic launching from the upper deck of a NASA office complex a few miles from the launch pad.

According to the LA Times, In a move to expand its reach with Christian audiences, Sony Pictures is buying a streaming service launched by the makers of the “God’s Not Dead” film franchise. The Culver City-based studio on Thursday said it has agreed to purchase the faith-based subscription video service Pure Flix, which charges viewers $13 a month (or $84 a year) to stream evangelical-friendly movies and TV shows. Financial details were not disclosed. Following the transaction, the Pure Flix service will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Affirm Entertainment, which is the sister company of Affirm Films, the Sony Pictures division responsible for producing, distributing and marketing faith-based films including “War Room,” “Heaven Is for Real” and “Miracles From Heaven.” The deal is the latest move by the studio, owned by Tokyo electronics giant Sony Corp., to tap the often lucrative audience for movies and television programming aimed at churchgoers. Sony expanded its Affirm Films unit, run by Executive Vice President Rich Peluso, by launching a television arm in December.

According to the Christian Post, Justin Bieber shared several faith-inspired posts leading up to his People’s Choice Awards performance of his single “Holy” and revealed he wishes to lead people to God. Bieber wrote Sunday on Instagram along with a video of rehearsal footage of him singing “Holy,” “All my life I felt in my heart I was supposed to entertain. I had been given these abilities that I wanted to showcase. My heart as I get older is to ask God to refine my heart. To make sure my intention remains pure. My intention is to inspire, uplift, empower and lead people to know and see the love of God. To remind people of the joy and wonder that is all around us.” In his Instagram post, the Canadian native went on to say, “Fear of rejection can scare us away from our full potential. But asking God to use us even when we’re scared takes the pressure off of us and reminds us that He is in control.” Later that evening, Bieber performed “Lonely” and “Holy” at the People’s Choice Awards. While singing his song, “Holy,” which is filled with Christian references, Bieber had several illuminated crosses across the stage.

According to the LA Times, Singer Jeremih is “responsive and doing a little better” after being hospitalized with COVID-19, according to rapper and frequent collaborator 50 Cent. In a Sunday Instagram and Twitter update, 50 Cent thanked his followers for “praying for my Boy” Jeremih, who was previously admitted to an intensive care unit in Chicago during his ongoing battle with the illness. The Grammy winner was among multiple music luminaries who wrote well wishes to the “Don’t Tell ‘Em” hitmaker on social media after his condition worsened over the weekend. Among the many others rallying for Jeremih online are Big Sean, Toni Braxton, Metro Boomin, Fat Joe and Chance the Rapper, who also asked his millions of Twitter followers to “take a second to pray” for the “LOVELIFE” artist. Chance the Rapper tweeted Saturday, “He is like a brother to me and he’s ill right now. I believe in the healing power of Jesus so if you can for me please please say a prayer over him.”

According to the Associated Press, After winning a difficult race to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of seven Formula One championships on Sunday, the hardest thing for Lewis Hamilton was containing his emotions. His voice could be heard breaking as he thanked his team over the radio moments after crossing the line at the Turkish Grand Prix, while underneath the helmet the tears were starting to build up. Moments after victory No. 94 and title No. 7, he sat in his car with his head in his hands. Hamilton said, “It really hit me and I just burst into tears. I couldn’t get out of the car because I just couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want the visor to come up and people to see tears flowing, because I had always said I would never let you see me cry. I remember watching drivers in the past crying and I was like, ‘I’m not going to do that.’ But it was too much.” The British driver started from sixth place but still won a fourth straight race and the 10th of another hugely dominant season. “I know I often I say it is beyond wildest dreams but my whole life secretly I have dreamt as high as this,” said Hamilton. “It felt so far-fetched. I remember watching Michael win those world championships. To get one or two or even three is so hard. Seven is unimaginable. There is no end to what we can do together, me and this team.”

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In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!