Christian evangelist Ray Comfort — known for making short films tackling controversial subjects like abortion, evolution and Noah’s ark — is working on a new project that is already drawing the ire of his critics.
Unlike his past documentaries, “Audacity,” a scripted film, will tackle the ever-contentious issue of homosexuality, a subject Comfort had previously avoided.
“I didn’t want to do this movie. When different people kept asking for one that addressed homosexuality, I said an adamant ‘No!’ and I was deadly serious,” he told TheBlaze Tuesday. “It just wasn’t going to happen. One of the major reasons for this was that to speak even slightly against homosexuality nowadays is tantamount to being a hate-filled racist.”
But Comfort, whose crowdfunding campaign in support of the project raised more than $92,000 in just six days, said that God recently changed his mind and set him on a course of addressing the issue by using professional actors to tell an impactful story.
He’s hoping that viewers will walk away from the movie, which releases next year, with a true understanding of the gospel, specifically understanding and embracing the notion that believes do not and should not hate gays and lesbians.
“‘Audacity’ doesn’t stereotype or vilify gays in the slightest,” Comfort said. “This movie isn’t motivated by an ounce of hatred. It’s just the opposite. We love gay people, and that’s what we believe will be the conclusion of most who see it.”
The central plot will surround a character named Peter — a bike messenger who is “on the brink of losing his job.” Peter, a Christian, struggles to find himself in a culture that rejects the Bible and is faced with trying to discover truth and convey it to his friends in a loving way.
“He’s forced into a clash between his most cherished convictions and a most volatile issue,” Comfort said.
Though it is scripted, there is one scene in the film that includes an interview between Comfort and two lesbians — an exchange that ends on a positive note, he told TheBlaze.
“There is a reality clip woven into the storyline of the movie where I interview two lesbians after I saw them kissing in Huntington Beach, California,” Comfort said. “At the conclusion of the interview they enthusiastically said on-camera that they really appreciated how I had spoken with them.”
While Comfort said he’d love to see the film make its way into theaters, he believes it will be “too hot” for them to handle, predicting protests and boycotts. So, his team plans to release it to the public in March or April of 2015 as an online download instead.
In May, a free premiere will subsequently be scheduled in 1,000 churches around the globe, then it will later be released on YouTube and DVD.
Comfort expects critics to react harshly, especially considering the contentious nature of the ongoing theological and political debate surrounding homosexuality.
“When we produced [pro-life film] ’180′ they said we hated women. When ‘Evolution Vs. God’ came out, we hated science. Neither accusations were true,” he told TheBlaze. “We are now in post-production of a movie that shows how much we love gay people, and they are already saying that I hate gays.”
He continued, “These critics hate any thought of God, and they think that if they can vilify me they can vilify the message — when they just confirm it with their hatred.”
Comfort said he’s already seeing reaction, with someone creating a Facebook profile called “Ray hates Gays” and with critics speaking out against “Audacity.”
As a result of the reaction, he said his team is continuing to monitor the situation to ensure he isn’t banned for “so-called ‘hate speech’” on the social media platform.
The evangelist is hoping to raise $175,000 to cover the film’s budget.
Former President Bill Clinton revealed Monday during a leadership scholars event that President George W. Bush used to call him about twice a year “just to talk” when he was president.
“We’d talk, depending on how much time he had, because he was busier than me — somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes for several years,” Clinton said. “It meant a lot to me. We never talked about it, we never talked about it in public.”
“We talked about everything in the right world,” he continued. “He asked my opinion. Half the time he disagreed with it, but I felt good about that.”
Bush said the two had since become better friends post-presidency.
The event had a light-hearted tone. Bush offered Clinton advice on becoming a grandparent — Clinton’s daughter Chelsea is expecting her first child this fall. “Get ready … to be like the lowest person in the pecking order in your family,” Bush said.
At one point, Clinton’s cellphone rang on stage, prompting him to tell the audience that “only two people have this number and they are related to me.” Clinton said he hoped “I’m not being told I’m about to become a premature grandfather.”
Assessing each other’s leadership qualities, Clinton said Bush did things he thought was right and “consistently benefited by being underestimated — and so did I for totally different reasons.” Bush said Clinton was empathetic and “an awesome communicator” who could “really lay out a case and get people all across the political spectrum.” Ending his comments, he asked Clinton: “Is that enough?”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Fox News host Megyn Kelly sparred with Ward Churchill in new video released Monday night, grilling the controversial former professor over incendiary remarks he made the day after the 9/11 attacks.
Churchill, who had taught at the University of Boulder before being fired in 2007, had previously compared victims of the terror attacks to “little Eichmanns,” a reference to the Nazi Adolf Eichmann.
“To the extent that any of them were unaware of the costs and consequences to others of what they were involved in – and in many cases excelling at – it was because of their absolute refusal to see,” Churchill previously wrote. “More likely, it was because they were too busy braying, incessantly and self-importantly, into their cell phones, arranging power lunches and stock transactions, each of which translated, conveniently out of sight, mind and smelling distance, into the starved and rotting flesh of infants.”
“If there was a better, more effective, or in fact any other way of visiting some penalty befitting their participation upon the little Eichmanns inhabiting the sterile sanctuary of the twin towers, I’d really be interested in hearing about it,” he added.
Kelly refused to let those comments slip by.
“You sound, like not only do you blame them, like you dislike them,” Kelly told Churchill.
“What I’m saying is for effect, in addition the essence is this is what it feels like to be treated this way,” Churchill defended, saying the victims were “knowingly involved” in making money in “criminally sanctioned” ways.
“How could you draw a moral equivalence between 3,000 dead Americans and a murderous Nazi like Adolf Eichmann?” Kelly later asked. “Did you have to be so glib about it? Did you have to be so callous?!”
Churchill deflected, prompting Kelly to ask if he plans to ever apologize.
“No,” Churchill responded.
Late last week, Kelly had published video showing another part of her interview where she questioned Churchill about whether or not America deserves to be bombed.
The Fox News host is set to unveil the final part of her interview Tuesday night on her program.
This post has been updated.
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Story by the Associated Press; curated by Oliver Darcy.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) — Cooler weather has slowed the spread of a wildfire that forced the helicopter evacuation of dozens of people from the famous Half Dome rock in Yosemite National Park.
Park ranger Kari Cobb says cooler, more humid weather Monday helped firefighters battling the blaze in the park’s backcountry. There was even a sprinkling of rain in the morning.
— Yosemite National Pk (@YosemiteNPS) September 8, 2014
The fire isn’t threatening any buildings and the park remains open, but some campsites are closed.
On Sunday, 100 people were evacuated from Little Yosemite Valley and 80 to 85 were removed by helicopter from the top of 5,000-foot Half Dome.
About 120 firefighters and 11 aircraft are fighting the blaze, which may have erupted from embers of a fire sparked by lightning several weeks ago.
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Crowdfunding website GoFundMe shut down the campaign of an Illinois women to raise money online to fund an abortion late last week.
In an email obtained by The Daily Dot, GoFundMe told Bailey — whose last name is unknown — that her fundraiser, titled “Stop Bailey From Breeding Fund,” contained material the company would “rather not be associated with.”
“We’re sorry to inform you that after careful review, GoFundMe has determined that your campaign is not appropriate for our site,” an email from the website to Bailey said. “Accordingly, your GoFundMe account has been removed and your campaign is no longer visible on GoFundMe.”
After it was reported the woman was asking for money to fund an abortion, the website came under pressure to remove the fundraiser.
Bailey had previously asked for money, saying she was “unemployed, completely broke, in debt, and in no position to hold down a job due to severe symptoms of a rough, unplanned and unexpected pregnancy.”
“Aside from having no desire to raise a child, she is economically unstable and can barely afford to support herself, which means having enough money to pay rent, smoke cigarettes, drink rockstar, support her friends in prison, and if she’s really busted her ass, maybe go to a show or two,” her fundraiser said.
In an interview with Vice News, Bailey said she was experiencing complications with her pregnancy, which was 19 weeks along.
“It’s just been really, really painful,” she said. “Like I said, I just got the ultrasound done and haven’t really been to the doctor very much, so I can’t say there’s a specific condition, but I know that it’s worse than any menstrual cramps I’ve ever had. Sometimes the pain is so bad that I can’t get out of bed, and I can’t go to the bathroom.
According to The Daily Dot, Bailey was notified by a follow-up email hours later that the money she did raise would ultimately be forwarded to her. A friend of the woman said she is scheduled to carry out her abortion this week.
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Detroit was once a mighty industrial city.
Now it’s the city where fire departments use soda cans as fire alarms.
As the Detroit Free Press reported Friday, Detroit’s cash-strapped fire departments have adopted creative and bizarre alarm systems to handle incoming fire calls.
One system: Prop a coin-filled Faygo can on the fax machine that spits out reports. When the can’s knocked over, you know you’ve got business to handle.
“It sounds unbelievable, but it’s truly what the guys have been doing and dealing with for a long, long time,” Detroit Deputy Fire Commissioner John Berlin told the Free Press. “We’re in desperate need. We’re probably 30 years behind.”
Over the past decade, Detroit has had between 11,000 and 12,000 fires each year, the Free Press noted, with an average fire department response time of seven minutes.
How did Detroit come to the point of using a MacGyvered fax-Faygo alarm system?
As the Free Press detailed in a special report last year, Detroit’s municipal leaders contributed to the city’s bankruptcy over several decades, encouraging taxpayers to leave the city by raising taxes, binge borrowing and granting well over $1 billion in bonuses to public employees — some of them the same public employees who now limp along with badly outdated technology.
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A Florida small business owner said Monday the city of Ocala has threatened to fine him if he does not immediately take down a Gadsden flag currently displayed outside his store.
Gear Barrel owner Keith Greenberg told TheBlaze that the city said he was permitted to fly the American flag outside his store, but prohibited from displaying anything else outside his business which specializes in selling knives.
“This is a shock,” he said. “Honestly, I feel like this is Russia. I’ve been around the world … this is what you expect in really closed countries where there is no freedom of expression. Not here — so it’s shocking.”
The flying of the flag appears to be prohibited under the city code of ordinance, section 110-131.
Greenberg told TheBlaze he faces being fined up to $250-$500 per day if he does not comply. He said the potential fines would be devastating to his young small business, which he opened in May.
“The city of Ocala is demanding I take this down,” he told TheBlaze.
Greenberg posted a video to YouTube earlier this month trying to raise awareness of the move being made by the city.
“We find ourselves in a sad place where local municipalities are stepping all over people’s freedom with the signing of a pen,” he said.
Greenberg told TheBlaze he was even more perplexed by the city’s demands because he has spotted other flags being flown at nearby establishments.
Photographs forwarded to TheBlaze show an Ocala car dealership flying the Mexican flag and an Irish bar displaying the Irish flag. It was not clear whether or not the city had also issued similar notices to the other businesses.
The city’s code enforcement office could not immediately be reached Monday night for comment by TheBlaze.
The small business owner said his next move will be to address the city council at their next meeting.
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A man said Monday he was physically assaulted after recording the aftermath of a purported break in at an Ohio college fraternity house.
Video captured by the unidentified individual shows him on a public sidewalk filming the chaotic scene when he is confronted by a “lookout.”
“Keep going man, c’mon,” the man told the individual recording. “No, seriously, these are my f**kin boys. If you get them in trouble because of this — stop!”
“Can you keep walking dude?” he reiterated a few moments later in the video. “Seriously.”
The individual recording still refused to leave and continued taping the incident which reportedly took place at Miami University’s Kappa Alpha house.
“Seriously, get the f**k out of here,” he is warned again. “Seriously, get the f**k out of here. Get the f**k out of here.”
After a couple more minutes, the lookout made the decision to inform his apparent friends that there was someone recording them.
“You’re so f**ked! Why would you record it? You dumb f**king idiot,” one of the individuals told the cameraman as the group approached him.
“Yo, w’ere about to, yo, this kid’s recording all of it,” he added.
At that point, the group appeared to begin physically assaulting the individual recording.
“Get the f**k off me!” he exclaimed to them. “Get the f**k off me!”
A few moments later, the video suddenly ends. An individual claiming to be the cameraman later posted on Reddit a description of what happened after he stopped recording.
“I’m fine, I’m a bouncer at one of the local bars,” he wrote. “They followed me for 3 blocks trying to grab me and get my phone. Said they would kill me trying to punch and smacking me with a bag of begals [sic] etc… Once I got to the bar I went inside and everything else was taken care of. I can’t really get into what happened after I went inside, but I’m fine.”
The video was later uploaded to YouTube Sunday where it has amassed nearly half-a-million views.
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Glenn Beck on Monday spoke with Dr. James Dobson about how Americans can speak with their children about radical Islam and the Islamic State.
“With so much information at our fingertips, what do I show my kids?” Beck asked. “Do I tell them the truth about what is happening to children in the Middle East? You want to talk about nightmares — they’re teaching their children to hate and kill and behead people. Do I show them that? Are they going to see that on their cellphone in grade school?”
“Our kids weren’t living during [9/11],” Beck continued. “We saw evil rain down. We felt it. There was no mistaking it. Now we don’t even show the planes hitting the the towers — it’s too scary, it’s too disturbing.”
Beck said if Americans don’t show their children the truth, “an entire generation is going to rise up, blissfully unaware of what awaits them.”
“[Over the weekend], I was talking to my kids about books they’re reading,” Beck said. “Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, they are teaching their children to hate and behead. Our kids are not going to be equipped for what is coming their way.”
Beck said America’s parents mean well, but in protecting our children from the truth, we may be “sending them off into battle completely naked, woefully uninformed, and armed only with a phone full of selfies.”
Dobson said he completely agrees that it is important to speak with your children about the dangers in the world, but warned that it is also important to do it in a certain way.
“Children watch their parents very, very carefully, and if you’re afraid in the way you deal with it … that will reverberate in the minds of the kids, because their security depends totally on you,” he said. “But you can describe it as something that takes place, [saying], ‘There are laws to prevent people from being hurt in this way, and there are parents to protect the kids. And that’s why we’re here.’”
Dobson said that ultimately, “if you’re afraid, they’re going to be afraid.”
Beck agreed, saying that when he was a child, he felt immeasurably relieved when former U.S. President Ronald Reagan boldly described the Soviet Union as an evil empire that must be defeated.
Beck said the message he heard was: “There is evil. This is what it is. This is what it looks like. But don’t worry — they have to come through us to get to you.”
The full episode of The Glenn Beck Program, along with many other live-streaming shows and thousands of hours of on-demand content, is available on just about any digital device. Click here to watch every Glenn Beck episode from the past 30 days for just $1!
A man was reportedly arrested and charged with multiple crimes after he refused to stop recording a “militarized” SWAT team raid across the street from his Gresham, Oregon, apartment last week. The man, identified by Photography Is Not a Crime as 27-year-old Fred Marlow, recently uploaded the video of his tense exchange with police officers, though he claimed he was “scared to” do so at first.
In the video footage, police officers can be heard telling Marlow — who was standing across the street — that he will be arrested if he refuses go inside.
“No, I can be out here,” Marlow replies.
“You are interfering right now,” one officer tells him. “You need to go inside right now. It’s a lawful order, OK? You are going to go inside right now.”
“I have no weapons, I’m fine,” Marlow calmly responds.
As the officers begin to walk away, Marlow shouts, “Hey! This is on iCloud!”
It was at this point that he appears to have been placed under arrest. He was later reportedly charged with interfering and resisting arrest.
In the YouTube video’s description, Marlow claims he was “assaulted” by officers:
Gresham OR 9/2/14 4:00am I was laying in my apartment sleeping an I heard multiple bombs blasting and glass breaking and my entire apartment shook repeatedly. I grabbed my Ipad and ran outside as fast as I could to see what was going on There were 5 or more Tank/Military Trucks just cruising through my neighborhood. 503 Gresham/Portland Oregon right across the street from Mt.Hood Community College. I was assaulted multiple times and I feel like it was Gresham Police Abuse and my rights were violated. I now owe $5000 and i am charged with 2 crimes. 2 CRIMES! At first I was scared to post this video but now I dont care because the Gresham Police Department has already made a copy of it as proof of my crimes. I feel more like this is proof of their crimes or am i crazy?
Carlos Miller, of Photography Is Not a Crime, reports that Marlow has a court hearing scheduled for September 30.
KOIN-TV reported last week that the Gresham Police Department carried out the SWAT raid as part of an ongoing drug investigation. The warrant was reportedly served at approximately 3 a.m. on September 2. The raid itself appeared to have gone very smoothly as no injuries or incidents were reported.
Fox News host Sean Hannity said Monday that he believes “9/11, or far worse, is going to happen on our soil — probably sooner rather than later.”
Hannity was speaking on TheBlaze TV’s Dana about the threat from the Islamic State. He was particularly concerned about how militant Islamists could make use of an open border to carry out attacks.
“[On America's southern border,] they’re capturing people from Yemen, Syria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan,” he said. “In my opinion, ISIS is here. In my opinion, I believe [Saudi Arabian] King Abdullah, I believe former Vice President Cheney are right. I think 9/11, or far worse, is going to happen on our soil — probably sooner rather than later. It’s a matter of when, not a matter of if.”
King Abdullah made headlines last month after saying the Islamic State “will reach Europe in a month and America in another month.”
Hannity remarked: “How we don’t secure our border, for whatever reason, to me is the single dumbest national security mistake we could possibly make.”
“I didn’t get a whole lot that I agree with out of the 9/11 Commission Report, but the one thing that always stood with me was — they were at war with us, we weren’t at war with them,” the Fox News host said. “After the beheading of two journalists, you have the leader of ISIS saying ‘We’ll see you in New York,’ and they plan to plant [their] flag in the White House — that is a declaration of war. If you noticed this weekend, the president couldn’t even acknowledge such. That’s scary to me.”
Watch part of the interview, below.
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A jury of fact checkers seems unanimous in faulting President Barack Obama and White House press secretary Josh Earnest for mischaracterizing what Obama meant about the Islamic State in January when he asserted, “if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”
The dismissive comment gained much attention after the Sunni militant group launched destructive terrorist attacks throughout Iraq and Syria and beheaded two American journalists. But Obama and Earnest maintain the comment wasn’t really about the Islamic State.
The three main fact checkers – FactCheck.org, PolitiFact and the Washington Post’s Fact Checker – have all said the White House clarification is wrong.
During Obama’s Meet the Press interview Sunday with new host Chuck Todd, the president essentially gave the same explanation Earnest previously gave about the JV remark published in the New Yorker in January.
“Keep in mind I wasn’t specifically referring to (Islamic State). I’ve said that, regionally, there were a whole series of organizations that were focused primarily locally, weren’t focused on homeland, because I think a lot of us, when we think about terrorism, the model is Osama bin Laden and 9/11,” Obama told Todd.
FactCheck.org issued a verdict Monday afternoon that like others was based on the transcript from New Yorker reporter Davide Remnick’s interview with Obama.
“The president can make the case that he wasn’t referring only to ISIS when he made his remark about a junior varsity team. But he cannot say that he ‘wasn’t specifically referring to ISIL,’ because The New Yorker article and the transcript of the interview make it clear that the context of the president’s remark included ISIS,” FactCheck.org says.
The interview transcript reads Remnick saying, “You know where this is going, though. Even in the period that you’ve been on vacation in the last couple of weeks, in Iraq, in Syria, of course, in Africa, al-Qaeda is resurgent.”
Obama responded to Remnick, “Yes, but, David, I think the analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant. I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.”
Remnick replied, “But that JV team just took over Fallujah.”
Also on Monday, PolitiFact ranked Obama’s Meet the Press statement as “false.” That’s slightly better than the worst ranking the site can give: “pants on fire.”
“He was not specifically asked about Islamic State, but it’s pretty clear this is the group that was being referenced in the conversation. The transcript backs this up, as do news events from the time of the discussion,” the site writes.
Last week, the Washington Post Fact Checker gave Earnest its worst ranking of in a Sept. 3 piece. Factcheck.org also criticized Earnest Monday.
It’s considered a 1-in-100 million catch.
A veteran lobsterman on a routine fishing trip in Maine reeled up a white lobster — the rarest color of all — last weekend.
“When the trap broke the water, it stuck right out, and I was really surprised and a little bit excited just to see it,” lobsterman Joe Bates told WLBZ-TV.
“I’ve never seen one in all the time I’ve worked here,” Alex Knight echoed. “It’s pretty neat. See a lot of blue and spotted, but never white.”
According to the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine in Orono, a person is more likely to drown — 1 in 3.5 million odds — or get attacked by a shark — 1 in 11.5 million odds — than see an albino crustacean, USA Today reported.
Yet, just days later, another lobsterman defied the odds and caught another white lobster.
According to USA Today, no one has calculated the odds of finding two albino lobsters in the same week.
For now, the two lobsters are being kept together in a crate, WLBZ reported. The two albino crustaceans will eventually be put on display for the public to see.
Late last month a 14-year-old made news when she hauled in a blue lobster. That was considered a 1-in-2 million find.
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New video reportedly captured by a Russian tourist captures a vicious brawl between two men in the Brighton Beach area of New York City.
The fight seems to start inside a car — which then drives into oncoming traffic — and then continues when the car crashes into another vehicle.
The video shows the men relentlessly fighting each other for about minute as shouts are heard asking someone to dial 911. The men are still on the ground wrestling when the video ends.
It’s not clear when the video, which started going viral on Monday, was recorded or what sparked the violent altercation. Hopefully, no one was seriously injured in the scary incident.
Watch the video here:
The Islamic State is calling for the assassination of Twitter employees in retribution for the social media platform closing accounts associated with the terror group, according to a news website.
Vocativ reported Monday that a Twitter account associated with the Islamic State issued a direct call for attacks against Twitter employees.
The tweets were sent out Sunday and are presented below, with translation via Vocativ:
“#The_Concept_of_Lone_Wolf_Attacks The time has arrived to respond to Twitter’s management by directly attacking their employees and physically assassinating them!! Those who will carry this out are the sleepers cells of death.”
“#The_Concept_of_Lone_Wolf_Attacks Twitter management should know that if they do not stop their campaign in the virtual world, we will the bring the war to them in the real world on the ground.”
“#The_Concept_of_Lone_Wolf_Attacks Every Twitter employee in San Francisco in the United States should bear in mind and watch over himself because on his doorstep there might be a lone wolf assassin waiting.”
“#Attacking_Twitter_Employees is on the agenda of mujahedeen and lone wolves who are across Europe.”
According to Vocativ, the Twitter user who issued the threats purportedly represented Al Nusra Al Maqdisia, a group based in Jerusalem that pledged its loyalty to the Islamic State.
In the past, it had published official material from the Islamic State, including images of field operations, Vocativ reported.
The Twitter handle has since been suspended by Twitter.
Since its rise to power, the Islamic State has used Twitter frequently to disseminate its message.
After a powerful earthquake rocked the San Fransisco area last month, supporters turned to the social media platform to hijack related hashtags and post anti-American propaganda.
The terror group also expressed an “increased interest” on social media in exploiting the southern U.S. border to launch an attack on the U.S. homeland, a Texas law enforcement bulletin warned in late August.
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Amid news of continued chaos and turmoil at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington — the house of worship led by embattled Pastor Mark Driscoll — church leaders have announced that they will be closing at least three locations and laying off staff in the process.
In a statement posted to the church website Monday, leaders explained that they have fallen upon difficult financial times, as member giving is down.
“While our church has been financially healthy for many years, we are now facing the most serious budget challenge in our history,” the statement read. “Church budgeting is really a simple process in one respect: we are able to provide the level of staff and ministry programs that those who attend our church provide the resources for.”
The church said that it “agonized” over the decision and implored parishioners to pray for those who will be impacted in the days ahead.
“Some of our churches can no longer support the ongoing costs associated with their buildings and paid staff,” the statement read. “Our leaders have agonized over these decisions but have concluded that just because we are a church does not mean we are exempt from economic reality.”
Pastor Dave Bruskas was more specific in a blog post published Sunday, detailing which locations would be impacted by the decisions as the church seeks to “operate within [its] current means.”
Warren Throckmorton, a psychology professor who has blogged extensively about Driscoll and the turmoil at Mars Hill, said that the church’s wording comes across as “a rebuke to the people who are left in the pews.”
“The implication of this notice is the layoffs are the fault of the people in the pews,” Throckmorton wrote.
This news comes after Driscoll announced that he would step down temporarily while church officials investigate claims waged against him.
Other pastors have joined in criticizing the church and Driscoll. Some, though, have focused in on their own past behavior and, much like Driscoll has done, have issued public apologies.
For instance James Noriega, a former pastor of a Mars Hill congregation, recently penned an open “confession,” apologizing to anyone that he might have harmed while serving in ministry at the church.
Noriega, who willingly left Mars Hill West Seattle in 2011, admitted in a post on his Facebook page that he offended and hurt people in the church and that his newfound public appeal and admission of fault constitute an effort to officially begin the healing process.
In an interview with TheBlaze last week, Noriega said that he decided to write the very personal confession after he recently found himself joining 20 other former Mars Hill pastors in signing a document accusing the church — and Driscoll — of misconduct.
(H/T: Christian Post)
Panera Bread is asking customers not to bring firearms into its locations, becoming the latest company to take an anti-gun stance in an attempt to “preserve the environment we are working to create for our guests and associates.”
The new policy asks that no one other than law enforcement officers bring guns into any Panera Bread location.
In a Monday statement, the restaurant chain cites “Panera Warmth” as part of the reasoning behind the decision:
“Within our company, we strive to create Panera Warmth. This warmth means bakery-cafes where customers and associates feel comfortable and welcome. To this end, we ask that guns not be brought into this environment unless carried by an authorized law enforcement officer. Panera respects the rights of gun owners, but asks our customers to help preserve the environment we are working to create for our guests and associates.”
Anti-gun groups, like former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, have tried to pressure various businesses into announcing anti-gun policies.
Some of the anti-gun campaigns came after a pro-gun group, Open Carry Texas, held open carry demonstrations at establishments like Target and Kroger.
(H/T: Huffington Post)
Will President Barack Obama seek congressional authorization if he expands the fight against the Islamic State into Syria? White House press secretary Josh Earnest fielded several variations of that question Monday without giving a direct answer.
“As a general matter, what I can say is that the president is interested in their buy-in, is interested in a congressional debate and is interested in consulting closely with leaders in Congress so that they feel bought into this process,” Earnest said.
Obama is meeting with House and Senate leaders from both parties Tuesday at the White House and will be delivering a national address on Wednesday about the strategy for combatting the threat posed to Americans by the Islamic State, a Sunni militant group that has beheaded two American journalists and carried out terrorist attacks in its push through Iraq and Syria.
When ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl asked, “Does the president intend to ask Congress for authorization to expand the campaign against ISIL? A yes or no question,” Earnest didn’t provide a yes or no answer.
“If the president decides to expand the operation — and these are the kinds of questions that are best answered after the president has made some fundamental decisions about what he wants to do, if there is some kind of expansion of the operation, what the consequence is, a whole range of things, our diplomatic relationships, what kind of assistance we would seek from our partners, what kind of assistance we would seek from other governments and what role does Congress have?” Earnest said.
“So it’s hard – unless you are talking about a very specific order from the president – it’s hard to talk in very specific terms in what we want Congress to do,” Earnest continued. “As a general matter, what I can say is that the president is interested in their buy-in, is interested in a congressional debate and is interested in consulting closely with leaders in Congress so that they feel bought into this process.”
Pressed on the matter later in the briefing, Earnest said, “if Congress wants to participate in this process, we certainly would welcome their participation in a constructive way.”
But a reporter suggested there doesn’t seem to be an opposite of “buy-in” if Congress opposes an expansion of the campaign against the Islamic State. At that point, Earnest seemed to say it would be up to Congress to stop the president.
“If members of Congress want to put forth a piece of legislation saying the president should not act or should not order military force to protect American citizen in Iraq and Syria, they’re welcome to vote on that,” Earnest said. “Again, the president does not have a vote and the president does not determine if that on to the floor of the House of Representatives.”
Fox News has been aggressive in pursuing the story behind the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, and that persistence has earned the network more than a few snubs from the government, as Greta Van Susteren noted Friday.
“The Obama administration’s behavior post-Benghazi has been weird, like they’re hiding something,” Van Susteren said, outlining multiple government-sponsored news conferences from which Fox News was excluded as the network investigated Benghazi.
At one point, Van Susteren claimed, the White House tried to hush up information from the network.
“When reporter Jennifer Griffin said she was told that there was a stand-down order at Benghazi, I got a weird call from the Obama administration trying to pressure me to get Jennifer to back down from her report. I thought the call from the Obama administration was dirty.”
Read Griffin’s report here.
Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Monday said destroying the Islamic State and securing the border are the best steps the Obama administration could come up with to protect U.S. security interests.
Cruz criticized President Barack Obama for offering a fumbling response over the last few weeks, saying alternatively that there is no plan, then saying the plan is to make the Islamic State a “manageable problem.”
“The objective here is not to make ISIS manageable,” Cruz said on the Senate floor, using the other name for the terrorist group. “The objective here is to protect the national security interest of the United States and to destroy terrorists who have declared jihad on our nation.”
Cruz acknowledged the need for some sanctions such as blocking Islamic State’s access to funds, but stressed that, “because of the very nature of ISIS, the response must be principally military.”
“We should do everything possible to make ISIS understand that there are serious ramifications for threatening to attack the United States, for murdering American citizens,” he said. The group has executed two American reporters.
Cruz said a secure border is another key component, in light of threat the Islamic State has made to attack America.
“As long as our border isn’t secure, we’re making it far too easy for the terrorists to carry through on those promises,” he said.
He said another component must be stripping the U.S. citizenship of any American who leaves the country to fight alongside the Islamic State. Cruz has introduced legislation making this change, and said it’s needed to stop Islamic State supporters from moving freely across the border and perhaps planning attacks in the United States.
Obama is expected to explain his strategy to congressional leaders on Tuesday, and make a public statement about it Wednesday. But Cruz said he’s already unhappy that Obama does not believe he needs congressional approval to what Obama admits could be a three-year military effort.
“If this is indeed the case, it is incumbent on him to come to Congress and lay out his strategy so that we and the American people are clear on it,” Cruz said.
Obama has indicated that he only wants to provide air support for other ground forces, and that he does not intend to use U.S. ground troops at all.
Bu Cruz also criticized Obama for trying to build a coalition of partner countries without fully spelling out what he wants to accomplish, or how he wants to accomplish it. “The mission determines the coalition, not the other way around,” he said.
It was just another bike race until Italian cyclist Gianluca Brambilla and Russian cyclist Ivan Rovny unexpectedly started throwing punches while peddling uphill during the 16th stage of the race on Monday.
Neither rider went to the ground, preventing a pile up and potential injuries to other cyclists. However, both riders were ejected from the Vuelta a Espana.
AFP reports on what may have sparked the violent confrontation during the race:
It is believed that the Omega Pharma-Quick Step rider (Brambilla) was upset that Rovny was disrupting the pacemaking in the break.
Rovny even had to ask for a new pair of sunglasses from his Tinkoff-Saxo team car as they were broken in the altercation.
Watch footage of the fight below:
(H/T: For the Win)
“I’m done with religion [and] stupid rules, that somebody other than Jesus thought up for my own good.”
Pastor Jim Burgen had no idea that his statement — just a snippet from a now-viral sermon he delivered June 1 — would end up reaching far beyond the walls of the Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette, Colorado.
Burgen also touched upon alcohol and medicinal marijuana in the sermon, decrying man-made rules and regulations that he says some Christians incorrectly claim have come directly from God — comments he recently expounded upon in a recent interview with TheBlaze.
“I’m done with religion, stupid rules, that somebody other than Jesus thought up for my own good.”
“I grew up in a church community. I was told I was a bad Christian if I had a beer,” he said. “I know there’s different franchises around the country [that say] if you drink beer you don’t love Jesus. And I bought that for a long time.”
But today Burgen, who said in his now viral clip that he doesn’t oppose drinking alcohol or using medicinal marijuana, has very different views. Despite his belief that having a drink isn’t un-Christian, he also believes that the Bible makes it clear that intoxication isn’t right.
Perhaps his views on rules and regulations in Christianity are best summarized in comments made at the end of the viral sermon: ”Come and see Jesus, he’ll tell me how to live my life, he’s enough, screw the rest.”
Watch Burgen’s viral views below:
His tone and language certainly differentiate him from other pastors, as he’s willing to tackle some controversial subject matter with with an approach not typically seem among conservative preachers.
His tactics may be paying off, too, as he’s attracting 16,000 parishioners to Flatirons Community Church every weekend. Despite the large congregation, though, he knows his church isn’t for everyone.
“I hate the term megachurch,” Burgen told TheBlaze. ”We don’t claim to be a church for everybody. Listen, if you want a more conservative methodology, there are great churches all over Colorado.”
But methodology and theology are two very different things, Burgen argued, noting that he holds traditional, Bible-based views. Rather than correcting peoples’ language and “sweating some of the minor stuff,” he said that he focuses on simply “pointing people toward Jesus.”
And rather than shunning members for their behavior, Burgen said he makes an effort to remain open and act like Christ.
“[One of the] most common things that Jesus was accused of — ‘Why do you eat with people like that?’” he said, noting that he doesn’t shun people simply because of their sin. “I always want to be accused of the same thing Jesus is accused of.”
Some might assume that this stance requires Burgen to embrace a more liberal theology, but he said that simply isn’t the case. While the pastor believes that Jesus operated with both grace and truth, he said most churches today simply embrace one or the other — something he’s trying to avoid.
“We’re not anyone’s holy spirit,” he said of Flatirons. “You can belong here.”
For example, Burgen described how he has a transgender woman who attends service every Sunday. Rather than turn her away, he has allowed her to sit in the front row and listen every week.
As for gays and lesbians who attend his church, Burgen said that it’s encouraging to see everyone come to hear the gospel, regardless of disagreements that exist in the Christian world over homosexuality.
“Take a breath. At least they are here looking for God’s truth,” he said. “And there are heterosexual couples who come and fight in our lobby. At least they’re here.”
As for gay marriage, he refrained from judging, but told TheBlaze that he doesn’t believe it “lines up with God’s best plan for a person.”
And while he expressed support for medicinal marijuana, he had some very different views on recreational pot.
“I don’t think it’s a wise choice. I just don’t. I smoked weed in high school and college … I was on my way to another place,” he said. “The people I know who have smoked weed for a while … have looked back and said it has consequences.”
But Burgen, who recently published “No More Dragons,” a book about overcoming “bad religion” and strengthening one’s faith, said he’s not looking to judge people.
“I’m not trying to be everyone’s holy spirit … God will tell you what to do and I really believe that,” he said.
CBS reporter Major Garrett called out White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Monday over President Barack Obama’s claim that he is delaying executive action on immigration reform until after the midterm elections because he needs time to explain it to the American people.
“Why does he need until the end of the year to explain something?” the reporter began. “Isn’t true that the dominant factor, if you want to call it static, was static from Senate Democrats saying… ‘Maybe you think it’s a good idea, but it’s terrible politics for us and we want you to wait until after the election.’ The president clearly doesn’t need nine weeks to explain this to the American people.”
Garrett went on to say that the “only rational explanation for this is that intervening midterm election and fears from Senate Democrats that they did not want to take this issue on in the teeth of an already tough political environment.”
Earnest argued that Obama made the decision to delay his announcement on the executive action he plans to take on immigration reform because he is “concerned mostly about ensuring the solution that he offers is both sustainable and enduring.”
“But if it’s executive action it is sustainable, by definition, until the end of his presidency,” Garrett shot back. “He doesn’t have to worry about Congress. That’s the whole point.”
But Earnest claimed that the White House realizes that the “hyper-partisan” environment leading up to the November midterms “will have a negative impact on the broader public support and the sustainability of immigration reform.”
“The president is willing to take a little political heat from the pundits, from some of the advocates in the Hispanic community in particular, in order to ensure that the policy that he puts forward is one that can be sustained,” the press secretary added before criticizing Republicans for not acting on immigration reform.
Watch the exchange below:
Amazon made a splash when it hinted that future deliveries could arrive on your doorstep via drone.
But clearly, the world’s largest Internet company believes drones will be used much more widely than for mere delivery vehicles: the online retailer just officially launched the Drone Store, a section of the site solely dedicated to the remote-controlled machines, according to Engadget.
But some drone enthusiasts aren’t too happy about the mass sales strategy.
“They are selling hobby-grade equipment … the problem is they aren’t emphasizing education or safety,” Mike Fortin, the CEO of CineDrones, told TheBlaze. “I almost think it kind of breeds an irresponsibility because it opens up the floodgates.”
Fortin said he considers it a good thing when a large company like Amazon or Google highlights multicopters or drones, because it “gets drones out there to the public” and increases awareness, but he fears more drones in public hands without proper training or education could hurt the overall industry.
“There is no doubt that interest in drones is going to continue to grow, everybody and every company that has the ability or desire to make money in this way is going to try and jump into the arena,” he said, “and I think it’s great, I mean you can even buy smaller versions of these multicopters at Walmart for $30, and they’ll go 50 feet away and that’s it, they are for children. But people who shop on Amazon have a little more money and they are going to be a little more irresponsible.”
Fortin pointed out that a majority of drone events that have been covered in the news in recent months have been pulled off using DJI Phantoms, the brand highlighted on the front of Amazon’s Drone Store.
“It is undoubtedly the most popular multirotor/drone out there … from people flying them by the Brooklyn Bridge, to flying them over the U.S. Open, they are multiplying daily and they are being sold with reckless abandon to anyone with $500-$1,000 dollars,” he said.
Fortin said his main concern is making sure buyers get some kind of education before taking their newly purchased toys to the sky.
“There is no educational requirement; as fun as these things are, there are people who are going to get in trouble and there is this entire industry that has this impending doom and a black cloud over its head because there are people out there flying these things with no regard to safety,” he said.
Amazon’s site does include links to some safety sites; the Drone Store’s front page includes a hot link dubbed “Fly Responsibly,” which connects users to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems page and the Federal Aviation Administration’s UAS frequently asked questions website.
Amazon’s “Fly Responsibly” page also highlights Academy of Model Aeronautics, one of three groups that recently filed a law suit with the FAA in the last two weeks, along with the Drone Pilot Users Group, and a coalition of colleges and universities that have a vested interest in bringing remotely piloted technology forward. Fortin said the groups are actually hoping for more clarity and regulation from the FAA to keep their industry from being bogged down or swept in to general regulations that would apply to the public.
“Make no mistake, we actually want regulations … the people that are doing this professionally, that isn’t the fight we are in with the FAA,” Fortin said. “You don’t have to take an online course or anything that will say ‘you are responsible enough to use this,’ … I think there should be some sort of competency course and the manufacturers should hold some responsibility for that and it would be very, very simple.”
“Basically, I think this is a move that they are making just in time for Christmas … and I hope people decide to take classes to learn how to properly and safely fly these drones,” Fortin said. CineDrones is opening a training environment in November, co-sponsored by DJI, to educate aspiring drone pilots.
Besides selling vehicles and accessories from the likes of DJI and Parrot, the storefront also includes buyers’ guides, flying tips and previews of hardware coming down the pipeline, according to Engadget.
Follow Elizabeth Kreft (@elizabethakreft) on Twitter
The Baltimore Ravens terminated running back Ray Rice’s contract Monday after a new video emerged showing him hitting his then-fiancee in an elevator earlier this year.
Shortly after the Ravens made their announcement, Greg Aiello, a spokesman for the NFL, said the league decided to suspend Rice “indefinitely.”
The celebrity gossip news site TMZ obtained and posted footage that appeared to show the NFL player hit Janay Palmer, who is now Rice’s wife, in the elevator of an Atlantic City casino in February.
Here’s the video:
Rice’s lawyer, Michael Diamondstein, would not comment to the Associated Press about the running back’s recent termination from the team. The NFL denies having seen the video until Monday as well.
“We requested from law enforcement any and all information about the incident, including the video from inside the elevator,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said, according to ESPN. “That video was not made available to us and no one in our office has seen it until today.”
In contrast though, TMZ reported along with its release of the video that a hotel employee, who was not named, said the NFL had seen the video before it made its decision to give Rice a two-game suspension for his actions. Rice also was issued a $500,000 fine.
At training camp this summer, Rice said hitting his now-wife was “the biggest mistake of my life.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently toughened penalties for domestic violence.
Before being let go, Rice had served one of his two-game suspension as the Ravens played against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.