Pastors Left Asking ‘Why’ After Tornado Ravages Small Ark. Town

Two pastors from the same town in Arkansas are left grasping for answers after a deadly tornado swept through their town on Sunday evening, damaging one pastor’s home and church and completely demolishing another pastor’s house. This is the second tornado to damage the small Southern town in three years.

Wade Lentz, pastor of Beryl Baptist Church in Vilonia, Ark., says he is still trying to “understand why” God has allowed his family to go through the suffering of enduring another tornado’s destruction, but adds that he knows “God does not make any mistakes.”

“We don’t understand why the Lord has allowed us to go through this again, but I also know that our God does not make any mistakes,” Lentz told NBC News.

Lentz, his wife and his three children were in their home Sunday evening when they decided to head to his parents’ house for cover before a tornado approached their town. They returned to their brick home shortly after the tornado passed to find it completely demolished, and his refrigerator, washing machine, and freezer completely missing from the property. Lentz’s beloved car, a 1980 Chevy Silverado, was recovered 150 yards from his home, and his 2005 Toyota C0rolla was so smashed, it hardly resembled a car.

The pastor told NBC News that he is now questioning if he wants to rebuild his home in Vilonia again. He and his family suffered a $40,000 damage to their house in 2011 when an equally destructive tornado swept through their town. Although their house was salvageable the first time, Lentz says this time it is completely gone. “Do we even want to rebuild here? How many times are we going to go through this?” the pastor questioned.

Another pastor in the same town north of Little Rock is left trying to answer the same question that accompanies natural disasters: “why?” James Smith, pastor of the Vilonia Church of the Nazarene, had just finished rebuilding his church’s sanctuary after it was destroyed by the 2011 tornado. Now, he tells CBS News he’s just thankful the new sanctuary is only damaged, and not completely destroyed.

“It very well could be a miracle that it’s still standing because just a block over there’s a whole street with every house gone,” Smith said.

The pastor went on to say that he cannot answer the question of “why” for his congregation. “The why is the one question we can’t ever answer. The answers just aren’t there. Disasters happen. Why they happen to some people several times we really don’t know.”

Smith’s home was also damaged in the tornado, but not completely destroyed.

Regions of the U.S. South and Midwest suffered severe destruction and fatalities after a monster storm system unleashed hundreds of tornados ripping through states. Arkansas and Mississippi were the most affected with over 23 people killed and more than 200 people injured. The small town of Vilonia also suffered a death toll of eight.

Judge Sides With NAACP’s Attempt to Silence Black Pro-Lifer

A judge has issued a ruling in the NAACP lawsuit against a black pro-life leader who exposed its pro-abortion views in an article appearing at LifeNews.com.

In February, the NAACP threatened to sue LifeNews.com and Ryan Bomberger, a LifeNews blogger , for a column that took the civil rights organization to task over its abortion position. The NAACP is upset about a column Bomberger wrote at LifeNews titled, “NAACP: National Association for the Abortion of Colored People,” which notes the organization’s 44th Annual Image Awards.

Following the piece, the NAACP sent Bomberger, the director of the Radiance Foundation, and LifeNews a threatening letter claiming infringement on its name and logo for including it in the opinion column. The letter accuses Bomberger (left) and his group, the Radiance Foundation, of “trademark infringement” over an ad campaign that exposes the NAACP’s pro-abortion position.

Stating that while “you are certainly entitled to express your viewpoint, you cannot do so in connection with a name that infringes on the NAACP’s rights,” the letter demands a response within a self-imposed time period.

In response to the letter, Bomberger asked a federal court to declare that the First Amendment protects his and the Radiance Foundation’s exercise of free speech and that his speech does not infringe on any of the NAACP’s trademarks or other rights. The lawsuit does not seek any damages.

In its countersuit, the NAACP’s counterclaim denies that the NAACP is pro-­-abortion or has even taken a position on the issue.

Bomberger, who is represented by pro-life attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom legal group, has now received the ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Raymond Jackson has issued a ruling.

Judge Jackson has ruled in favor of the NAACP, denying Bomberger’s right to comment upon, satirize, or criticize the NAACP’s documented pro-abortion actions by (in part) parodying their name. This ruling is a frightening attack on his First Amendment rights or others who want to comment on the NAACP’s pro-abortion position.

In Judge Jackson’s 52-page ruling, despite voluminous evidence to the contrary (including the NAACP’s own unambiguous 2004 Resolution supporting the “right to choose” abortion), asserts that: ‘The NAACP has no formal or official position or policy regarding abortion because such a position may create problems within its diverse membership and constituency, who embrace a wide range of views on the controversial issue of abortion.” Judge Jackson uses this as the basis to strengthen the NAACP’s trademark infringement and dilution claims.

Despite the fact the LifeNews article in question simply parodied the NAACP’s name, criticized the organization’s documented pro-abortion actions, and used the NAACP’s unaltered logo to identify the civil rights group the judge refused to dismiss the case as a First Amendment issue.

Although the NAACP took offense at the article, Bomberger has frequently spoken out about the NAACP’s pro-abortion stance and its ignoring how abortion disproportionately targets black unborn children. The NAACP recently came under fire for opposing a bill to ban abortions based on race.

“The damage done is the loss of over 15 million black lives to abortion,” Bomberger, an adoptee and adoptive father., told LifeNews previously before the ruling. “How can the NAACP possibly claim neutrality over the abortion issue if they’re financially profiting from annual sponsorship from the nation’s largest abortion chain?”

Bomberger has previously pointed out that the NAACP’s website reveals that Planned Parenthood, the nation’s biggest abortion business, has been a corporate sponsor of the NAACP’s Annual Convention for years.

Before the ruling, Bomberger told LifeNews the NAACP has not acknowledged that more black babies are aborted in New York City, the home of Planned Parenthood, than are born alive. Instead, NAACP NY State Conference and NAACP Syracuse/Onondaga supported an alarming bill (championed by NY Governor Andrew Cuomo) called the “Reproductive Health Act” (RHA). This abortion bill would have removed abortion language entirely from the state’s homicide criminal codes, allowing abortions through the entire pregnancy and declaring abortion a “human right” thereby stripping any current or future attempts at regulating abortion clinics.

He said the case of Kermit Gosnell reveals what happens when regulations are not enforced. NAACP joins a massive coalition of radical pro-­-abortion groups including NARAL Pro-­-Choice New York, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Ms. Foundation and Planned Parenthood in opposing the kind of regulations that could have stopped Gosnell.

Despite the NAACP suit, Bomberger says the Radiance Foundation’s www.TooManyAborted.com abortion awareness campaign will continue to expose failed leadership in the black community on the issue of abortion.

Abortion alone has taken the lives of over 16 million black children. For every 100 live births in the African American community, another 77 are aborted.

African-American teenage abortion rates are more than twice as high as the national average, according to a new study. The African-American abortion rate, according to the study conducted by the Guttmacher Institute, is 41 per 1,000 women among the 15-19 year old age group. The national average abortion rate is 18 per 1,000 women among 15-19-year-olds.

Alliance Defending Freedom allied attorney Charles M. Allen with the Glen Allen, Va. firm Goodman, Allen & Filetti PLLC is defending Bomberger and Radiance in U.S. District Court in The Radiance Foundation v. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for the Eastern District of Virginia, Norfolk Division.

Tornado Outbreak, Storms Kill At Least 17 in Arkansas, Oklahoma

At least 17 people were killed in Arkansas and Oklahoma Sunday by tornadoes that slammed the central and southern United States, damaging or destroying scores of homes and businesses and leaving rescue workers searching in darkness for survivors.

At least 16 people were killed when twisters ripped through areas near Little Rock, Arkansas, according to Gov. Mike Beebe’s office. These include at least 10 people casualties in Faulkner County and six more across the state, according to Reuters.

Another person was killed in Quapaw in neighboring Oklahoma, according to the sheriff’s department.

The tornado in Arkansas touched down about 10 miles west of Little Rock at around 7 p.m. and moved north-eastward for at least 30 miles, causing widespread damage in the communities of Mayflower and Vilonia in Faulkner County, according to the National Weather Service.

Rescue workers were digging through rubble in Vilonia Sunday night. A spokesman for the County Sheriff’s office was quoted as saying there was a “mass casualty situation.”

“An entire neighborhood of 50 or so homes has been destroyed. Many homes are completely gone except the foundation … There is more devastation like this in other parts of Arkansas,” state congressman Tim Griffin was quoted as saying.

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“There’s just really nothing there anymore. We’re probably going to have to start all over again,” Vilonia Schools Superintendent Frank Mitchell told Fox News early Monday.

Weather officials in North Little Rock said the Mayflower and Vilonia storm is expected to be rated as the nation’s strongest twister in 2014. “It has the potential to be EF3 or greater [with winds greater than 136 mph],” meteorologist Jeff Hood was quoted as saying. “Based on some of the footage we’ve seen from Mayflower and where it crossed Interstate 40, things were wrecked in a very significant way.”

Between 7 a.m. and 10:55 p.m. CDT Sunday, the Storm Prediction Center had received 220 reports of severe weather, comprising 103 reports of large hail, 88 reports of wind damage or winds greater than 58 mph, and 29 reports of tornadoes.

The Weather Channel says locations from the Plains into the Mississippi Valley, Ohio Valley and parts of the South could see severe storms and tornadoes on one or multiple days until Wednesday. Flooding rainfall will also be a serious threat.

On Saturday, eastern North Carolina cleaned up from multiple twisters that left at least 16 people injured, about 200 homes damaged or destroyed and thousands of customers without power.

Weather officials in Morehead City, N.C., indicated that one of the tornadoes was EF3. It tore through Whichards Beach in Beaufort County at about 7:40 p.m. Friday, according to The Weather Channel.

“You can track the tornado by the damage,” Beaufort County Emergency Management Director John Pack was quoted as saying. “It left a lot damage behind in its approximately five to 10 minutes on the ground.”

Pack said the storm, about 300 yards wide and on the ground for 10 miles, damaged or destroyed around 200 homes and injured 16 people. About 8,000 people were without power at one point, he added.

At least three other EF2 tornadoes slammed the region Friday.

Among the affected areas were northwest of the Statesville area and Elizabeth City and the nearby Halls Creek area.

“We continue to expect a significant multi-day severe weather risk this weekend into Monday. This will be across the central and southern Plains on Saturday/Sunday and into the Mississippi Valley and mid-South on Monday. In addition to large hail and damaging winds, some strong tornadoes are possible,” the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center had said.

Plant Worker: Aborted Babies Had Been Incinerated for Years, “There Was So Much Blood”

A former plant worker at the facility found to be burning aborted babies for energy says the practice had been going on for years and he believes plant officials and perhaps even county government officials should have known.

Local officials in central Oregon are upset that an energy plant is reportedly burning aborted babies from Canada to generate electricity. As LifeNews reported on Thursday, they launched an investigation into how and why aborted babies were included along with medical waste shipped from Canada to Oregon to be incinerated for energy at a recycling plant.

The Marion County Commissioners heard about it for the first time yesterday, April 23, at 4 p.m. They immediately called Oregon Right to Life to express their horror and avow their lack of knowledge of the practice.

Commissioner Sam Brentano said the “waste-to-energy” plant was intended to efficiently destroy waste and, in the process, generate electricity, but the plant was “never intended to be a destruction of human fetal tissue.”

But plant worker KOIN interviewed Bud Waterman, a former temp worker at Covanta Marion, Inc., who told the television station that he saw 53-foot tractor trailers carrying biohazardous material dropping off loads at the facility at least two to three times a week. He said plant officials had to know that aborted babies were part of the medical waste and had been for years.

From the report:

On more than one occasion, Waterman said the contents of the truck spilled out of their containers.

“It would make you sick, especially if you had to clean it up or have to pull a box off the trailer,” said Waterman.

Covanta responded to the claims early Thursday morning by placing blame on Marion County and said the company is halting the program until answers are given.

“The medical waste program at the Marion County Resource Recovery Facility is County run and managed,” Covanta said in a statement. “Marion County contracts for and delivers medical waste to the facility and Covanta has no responsibility for the program. Covanta is shocked by these allegations and is discontinuing the receipt of this waste stream until we have been assured by the County that this alleged material is not being delivered to the facility.”

Waterman said he believes certified contractors have been carrying fetuses from British Columbia to Oregon, where state statutes allow fetuses to be disposed.

“I don’t know that you can know just like I should have known, but I didn’t,” said Brentano. “I’m sorry I didn’t know that this included fetal tissue, but now that I do know, believe me things change.”

Waterman said he believes fetuses have been incinerated at the Marion County facility for years and used for energy, a practice that the Canadian government will not do.

“They knew it, they had to. I don’t see how they could not know it,” said Waterman.

Mississippi Governor Signs Ban on Abortions After 20 Weeks

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has signed a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and protect unborn babies who feel tremendous pain during an abortion procedure.

The measure is similar to legislation pending in Congress and in other states that points to the pain babies feel in abortions as a reason to ban them. The bill, which bans abortions after five months of pregnancy passed in both the state House and Senate, by a 41-10 margin.

“Late term abortions are deadly for both mother and child,” noted Americans United for Life president Charmaine Yoest. “A woman seeking an abortion at 20 weeks (five months) is 35 times more likely to die from abortion than she was in the first trimester. At 21 weeks or more, she is 91 times more likely to die from abortion than she was in the first trimester. Such horrendous statistics show the wisdom of the Mississippi legislators who moved today to enact common-sense limits on a dangerous procedure.”

Diane Derzis, who owns Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, promised someone would file a legal challenge to the bill if it becomes law.

A National Right to Life Committee poll found that 63 percent of Americans, and 70 percent of women, support a ban on post-fetal pain abortion. The same poll also found that American women, by an overwhelming majority of 62-27 percent, would be more likely to vote for lawmakers who support this bill.

The bill relies on the science of fetal pain to establish a Constitutional reason for Congress to ban abortions late in pregnancy. The science behind the concept of fetal pain is fully established and Dr. Steven Zielinski, an internal medicine physician from Oregon, is one of the leading researchers into it. He first published reports in the 1980s to validate research showing evidence for it.

He has testified before Congress that an unborn child could feel pain at “eight-and-a-half weeks and possibly earlier” and that a baby before birth “under the right circumstances, is capable of crying.”

He and his colleagues Dr. Vincent J. Collins and Thomas J. Marzen were the top researchers to point to fetal pain decades ago. Collins, before his death, was Professor of Anesthesiology at Northwestern University and the University of Illinois and author of Principles of Anesthesiology, one of the leading medical texts on the control of pain.

“The functioning neurological structures necessary to suffer pain are developed early in a child’s development in the womb,” they wrote.

“Functioning neurological structures necessary for pain sensation are in place as early as 8 weeks, but certainly by 13 1/2 weeks of gestation. Sensory nerves, including nociceptors, reach the skin of the fetus before the 9th week of gestation. The first detectable brain activity occurs in the thalamus between the 8th and 10th weeks. The movement of electrical impulses through the neural fibers and spinal column takes place between 8 and 9 weeks gestation. By 13 1/2 weeks, the entire sensory nervous system functions as a whole in all parts of the body,” they continued.

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With Zielinski and his colleagues the first to provide the scientific basis for the concept of fetal pain, Dr. Kanwaljeet Anand of the University of Arkansas Medical Center has provided further research to substantiate their work.

“The neural pathways are present for pain to be experienced quite early by unborn babies,” explains Steven Calvin, M.D., perinatologist, chair of the Program in Human Rights Medicine, University of Minnesota, where he teaches obstetrics.

Dr. Colleen A. Malloy, Assistant Professor, Division of Neonatology at Northwestern University in her testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in May 2012 said, “[w]hen we speak of infants at 22 weeks LMP [Note: this is 20 weeks post fertilization], for example, we no longer have to rely solely on inferences or ultrasound imagery, because such premature patients are kicking, moving, reacting, and developing right before our eyes in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.”

“In today’s medical arena, we resuscitate patients at this age and are able to witness their ex-utero growth and development. Medical advancement and technology have enabled us to improve our ability to care for these infants…In fact, standard of care for neonatal intensive care units requires attention to and treatment of neonatal pain,” Dr. Malloy testified. She continued, “[t]hus, the difference between fetal and neonatal pain is simply the locale in which the pain occurs. The receiver’s experience of the pain is the same. I could never imagine subjecting my tiny patients to horrific procedures such as those that involve limb detachment or cardiac injection.”

Dr. Maureen Condic, who is Associate Professor of Neurobiology and Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine, has testified that the unborn child is capable of reacting to pain as early as 8-10 weeks. This is when most abortions in America take place.

In Pro-Life Case Involving ‘Obamacare’ Abortion Funding, Supreme Court Has Free Speech Concerns

An Ohio law that was used to stifle the political speech of a pro-life group appears in jeopardy Tuesday after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Susan B. Anthony List vs. Driehaus.

SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser interviewed in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, Washington, D.C., April 22, 2014.

While Supreme Court decisions are difficult to predict based upon the justices questions during oral arguments, all nine justices “seemed very concerned” about the freedom of speech implications in the case, Casey Mattox, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, told The Christian Post Tuesday. Mattox was in the court audience.

SBA List and other pro-life groups argued the compromise did not go far enough and would not ensure that no public money would be used to fund abortion. The group tried to buy a billboard that would have said, “Shame on Steve Driehaus! Driehaus voted FOR taxpayer-funded abortion.”

Driehaus, though, threatened to sue SBA List and the owner of the billboard under an Ohio law that makes it a crime to knowingly publish false statements about a political candidate. Fearing the lawsuit, the billboard owner declined to let SBA List rent the space. SBA List ran the ads on radio instead. Driehaus filed a complaint with the Ohio Election Commission and after Driehaus lost his re-election, the case was dismissed.

The question before the court is whether SBA List can sue over the law because the group was never prosecuted and the billboard never went up.

One of the free speech concerns in the case, Mattox explained, is that the Ohio law, and similar laws in other states, can be used to stifle political speech even when no one is prosecuted. Sometimes just the threat of a lawsuit can restrict political speech. By the time a court hears arguments about whether a statement made about a candidate is false or not, the election is usually over. So these cases are often dismissed. But if political groups suffer as a consequence, yet do not have standing to sue after the election, the law can continue to be used to stifle political speech.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a brief supporting SBA List in the case.

“Speech is rarely black and white — oftentimes whether a statement is true or false may be a matter of opinion,” ACLU of Ohio Legal Director James Hardiman said in a statement. “If the government silences one side of the debate, the public is less informed and others may be fearful of criticizing elected officials. The answer to unpopular speech is not less, but more speech.”

While some reports about the case suggest it is about whether the First Amendment protects a right to lie, SBA List argues it told the truth about abortion funding in the ACA.

“Because Congress and the White House failed to include the Stupak amendment in the ACA as it passed, the law is full of abortion funding loopholes,” SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said Tuesday. “Since 2009, the SBA List has joined the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, other pro-life groups and members of Congress in pointing out the clandestine abortion funding problems in the Affordable Care Act. These abortion provisions blatantly contradict President Obama’s 2009 promise that ‘under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortion.'”

According to Mattox, Stephen Breyer, one of the more liberal members of the court, pointed out that abortion funding in the ACA is at least a disputed question. He noted that the court recently heard arguments in a case in which Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods Specialties sued the Obama administration, arguing that the ACA’s birth control mandate required coverage of abortifacients.

“This lawsuit originated when we sought to criticize those who voted for Obamacare and the expansion of taxpayer funded abortion it entailed. We have full confidence in the veracity of our claims and hope to see our First Amendment rights affirmed by the Court. In 2014 and beyond, we must be permitted to expose the truth about Obamacare and those who support it,” Dannenfelser added.

To reiterate this point, SBA List bought billboards this week, identical to the one they tried to use against Driehaus, in three states against Senators Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Mark Pryor (D-Ark.).

Meb Keflezighi, Deeply Religious Christian, Becomes First American in 30 Years to Win Boston Marathon

Meb Keflezighi of the U.S. reacts as he comes to the finish line at the 118th running of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Mass., on April 21, 2014.

Mebrahtom “Meb” Keflezighi, the first man among more than 35,000 runners competing in Monday’s Boston Marathon to cross the finish line, was also being celebrated because he is the first American to claim the top spot in more than 30 years.

The Olympic medalist, who believes God called him to run, completed the 26.2-mile race ahead of other male competitors in 2 hours, 8 minutes and 37 seconds.

Keflezighi achieved a similar victory in 2009 when he became the first American in 27 years to win the New York City Marathon, his first marathon victory.

“Keflezighi looked over his shoulder several times over the final mile. After realizing he wouldn’t be caught, he raised his sunglasses, began pumping his right fist and made the sign of the cross,” reports CBS News of his victory in Boston. The publication reports that Keflezighi was the first U.S. victor since Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach, who won the women’s title in 1985. The last American man to win the Boston Marathon was Greg Meyer in 1983.

The race Monday came a year after a devastating terrorist attack killed three people and wounded more than 260 others, competitors and spectators alike at the 2013 race. Keflezighi, who finished behind women’s champ Rita Jeptoo of Kenya, reportedly wore the names of the Boston Marathon bombing victims on his bib.

Keflezighi, who has in his Twitter bio the Bible passage Philippians 4:13 (“I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me!”), escaped war-torn Eritrea with his family in 1987 and emigrated to San Diego, which is where he first became interested in running. He became an American citizen while in high school.

‘Heaven Is for Real’ a Box Office Hit; Beats Johnny Depp Sci-Fi Blockbuster

The faith-based film “Heaven Is for Real” recorded a highly impressive box-office debut over Easter weekend, taking in $21.5 million domestically and besting Johnny Depp’s sci-fi blockbuster “Transcendence,” which only earned $11.5 million.

“The film definitely played not only to a faith-based audience but to a mainstream audience as well,” said Rory Bruer, president of worldwide distribution at Sony Pictures Entertainment, following the impressive debut, according to Deadline.com. “The title itself provokes dialogue no matter what you believe. It’s based on a book and the true story of this family, so it makes it all that more compelling.”

The Randall Wallace movie, based on the bestselling 2010 book Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, has earned an estimated $28,500,000 from 2,417 theaters nationwide in the first five days of its release, more than doubling its modest production budget of $12 million.

“It’s really a terrific result,” Bruer said. “And Easter was certainly a date that was in the wheelhouse of the film.”

Meanwhile, Depp’s “Transcendence,” which has a production budget of close to $100 million, only took in $11.5 million from 3,455 locations in its first three days.

The narrative for “Heaven Is for Real” focuses on Christian pastor Todd Burpo and the near-death experience of his then 4-year-old son, Colton, who shares of meeting Jesus in heaven as well as a number of his deceased relatives after undergoing emergency surgery in 2003.

Last week, Christian Hollywood exec DeVon Franklin told The Christian Post that success for “Heaven Is for Real” could result in more faith-friendly movies on the big screen.

“The success of this movie opening weekend directly correlates to the decision to green-light and make more of them. It’s an immediate thing,” Franklin, senior vice president of Production for Columbia TriStar Pictures, told CP. “If there’s a sense that there’s a growing market and a growing hunger for more films like this, then the desire to continue to provide more films will increase, and decisions will be made to be able to make more films like this.”

The film was produced by megachurch pastor T.D. Jakes of The Potter’s House in Texas and has been backed by a number of Christians, including faith film-review website Faith Driven Consumer, which gave it an overall rating of four stars out of five.

But Steve Wohlberg, Christian TV producer and author of over 30 books, isn’t keen on the theology present in the film. “There’s one major problem,” he said. “Neither the Old or New Testaments teach anywhere that our dead relatives are floating around in heaven waiting to talk to us. Instead, they ‘sleep’ (1 Cor. 15:51) quietly in their graves awaiting ‘the resurrection at the last day’ (John 11:25).”

The Hollywood Reporter suggested that the box office results over Easter weekend provide further evidence that 2014 is the year for Bible movies. Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah,” it noted, is still in the top 10 at the box office, taking in $5 million (now totaling $93.2 million domestically) at No. 9, while “God’s Not Dead” took in 4.8 million (now totaling $48.2 million) at No. 10.

“Son of God,” the Roma Downey and Mark Burnett-produced film centering on the life of Jesus, also performed well at the box office when it was released at the end of February, taking in $59 million domestically.

These Twins May be Conjoined, But They Know They’re Beautiful

Tatiana and Christa are amazing. They can see through each other’s eyes and they totally support each other physically and emotionally. But what makes them truly unique is that they know they are absolutely beautiful and filled with dignity.

Tatiana and Krista Hogan, age five, are conjoined at the head.  Because they share brain tissue, and because Krista is partially dependent upon Tatiana’s heart for adequate blood supply, they cannot be surgically separated.  Overall, however, the girls have enjoyed good health, reaching their developmental milestones on schedule.

Mother Felicia Simms learned of her daughters’ condition at five months’ gestation, and refused to consider an abortion.  She has received anonymous hate mail for choosing life.

“They called the girls freaks,” she told the Daily Mail in 2010.  “The nameless letters said that I should never have had them.”

The pro-life group Secular Pro-Life released a short video about them in 2012.

Secular Pro-Life president Kelsey Hazzard expressed her hopes that the video would benefit the family.

“Fortunately, the girls are too young to have understood those hateful messages,” she said.  “But that won’t last forever, and they are inevitably growing up in the public eye.  This video is a way for the family to say, ‘These sweet girls have a right to be here, and they’ve always had a right to be here.’  Hopefully people will start to think before they speak.”

“Despite all the propaganda to the contrary, pro-lifers care deeply about the welfare of all vulnerable people, not only those not yet born,” Hazzard said.  “But pro-lifers are understandably cautious about where their money goes, and in recent months the Komen scandal has intensified that concern.  ProLifeCares.org connects pro-lifers to a range of charities that they can feel good about supporting.”

The Untold Story in Crimea: Christians Accused of Dissension and Hatred

PHILADELPHIA—  The American Pastors’ Network (APN, www.AmericanPastorsNetwork.net) has received firsthand information from an APN pastor who is on the ground in the Ukraine, reporting that as the crisis in the Ukraine intensifies, freedom-loving Ukrainians and Christians generally are being accused by Russian officials of instigating Russian hatred throughout Ukraine as a pretense for Russian retaliation.

The unreported facts, as communicated by APN’s Pastor Dale Armstrong and further confirmed by a high-ranking bishop and pastor in Ukraine, have also revealed that in some areas in Crimea, those holding Ukrainian passports –as a way of showing compliance – have offered them up to the Federal Security Bureau (FSB, which replaced the KGB) in exchange for Russian passports, only to be given Russian passports with Siberian addresses.

Additionally, some Christian churches and pastors have experienced other forms of persecution reminiscent of earlier days, with church property and bank accounts being seized by the Russian government and pastors being ordered to turn over church membership lists. Beyond that, there are at least 20 confirmed cases of young girls from Evangelical churches being raped by the Russian military. Many more are believed to have been victimized but have not come forward due to fear of other reprisals.

Yet, in spite of these actions, pastors across Ukraine are increasingly standing up for freedom and raising their voices against tyranny and providing the only voices of reason and moral certainty in a time of misinformation and propaganda.

“The Putin regime and the FSB are increasingly seeking to eliminate any voices that oppose the Russian takeover of Crimea. As in the case of totalitarian regimes, those who love freedom – pastors and Christians who believe that government is to be a servant under God – are often the first to be targeted for persecution and harassment, and we believe the pastors and Christians in America need to be aware,” said APN President Sam Rohrer. “This is the underreported story from the Ukraine, and it has far-reaching implications for freedom, both in the Ukraine and around the world. It is clear from our source on the ground that pastors, Christians, and any who oppose Russian tyranny recognize this critical time as a challenge to liberty itself. Led – in part – by pastors, individuals across Ukraine  are committing themselves to the cause of freedom and are literally risking their lives, viewing these times in their nation to be like that of our American patriots in 1776.”

 According to APN’s in-country source, other disconcerting actions have included selective deportations, which began over the last couple of weeks from at least two Crimean cities. As the tension increases in this nation and the Russian military seems to be readying itself for invasion, the people of Ukraine are preparing themselves the best they can.

“From harassment to property confiscation to rapes and deportations, the plight of Christians – and all the people in the Ukraine – demands our attention,” Rohrer said. “The lesson for all Christians, pastors, and lovers of freedom – regardless of whether they are in Ukraine or in the United States – is that when confronted by tyranny and oppression, the Truth of God’s Word and His absolute standards must be told and lifted up even if persecution and reprisals result.  Our concern for our Christian brothers and sisters is that the world knows what is unfolding in Crimea and beyond. And that like our Founders and Founding pastors, we urge pastors with great courage and confidence to lead the way for all who love freedom by resisting tyranny and lifting up the Truth of Scripture as the only foundation for spiritual and civic freedom – before freedom is lost and tyranny reigns.”   

The American Pastors’ Network has a mission to identify, encourage, equip, educate and network pastors and church members to “Stand in the Gap for Truth” across the nation while providing Bible-based and constitutionally consistent analysis and recommendations on matters of public policy.

APN is the largest, national network of pastors who believe in the authority of scripture, who boldly preach the whole counsel of God with a disciplined application of a biblical worldview to public policy and who are building a permanent infrastructure of biblically faithful pastors and lay leaders and mobilizing congregations to participate in the political process.

The Pennsylvania Pastors’ Network is a group of biblically faithful clergy and church liaisons whose objective is to build a permanent infrastructure of like-minded clergy who affirm the authority of Scripture, take seriously Jesus’ command to be the “salt and light” to the culture, encourage informed Christian thinking about contemporary social issues, examine public policy issues without politicizing their pulpits and engage their congregations in taking part in our political process on a non-partisan basis.

For more information on American Pastors’ Network, visit www.AmericanPastorsNetwork.net. For more information on Pennsylvania Pastors’ Network, visit www.PAPastors.net or call 610-584-1225.