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The law as it relates to Christians and their free exercise of religion

Archive for January, 2010

E Harmony Settles Lawsuit over Same-Sex Matching

Posted by faithandthelaw on January 31, 2010

NEW YORK (Reuters) – eHarmony Inc, which operates a website to help singles find relationships, said on Tuesday that it settled a class action lawsuit over same-sex matching.

All claims against the company will be dismissed and a $2 million settlement fund will be established, eHarmony said, with $500,000 designated as a fund for claims by the class.

eHarmony, based in Pasadena, California, did not admit any wrongdoing or liability by settling the case, which was filed in 2007 on behalf of a class of gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals in California who alleged they were unable to use the website to be matched with same-sex partners.

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The Tebow ad

Posted by faithandthelaw on January 31, 2010

CBS is right in refusing to bow to pressure not to run an advocacy ad during the Super Bowl.

Football fans might be more interested in pass receptions than contraception on Super Bowl Sunday, but no matter: Because of a controversial decision by CBS, they’ll be presented with an antiabortion commercial sponsored by the evangelical Christian group Focus on the Family during Sunday’s matchup.

The move by CBS has infuriated abortion-rights activists, prompting the New York-based Women’s Media Center to organize a petition drive urging the network to cancel the ad. That’s a shame, and CBS is to be congratulated for standing up to the pressure. We’re solidly for abortion rights, but the campaign against the ad is a misguided attempt at censorship.

Details are scarce, but the commercial reportedly will feature Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbackTim Tebow and his mother, and will relate the story behind Tebow’s birth. Pam Tebow says she was on a missionary trip to the Philippines in 1987 when she became seriously ill and doctors urged her to abort her fifth child. She opted to ignore them, and survived to deliver a son who grew up to become the University of Florida football star.

It’s obviously reckless to imply that women should risk their own lives for the sake of a fetus, but there’s no law saying advocacy ads have to preach responsible policies. What really seems to irk the Women’s Media Center is the appearance of uneven treatment by CBS. In 2004, the network rejected a Super Bowl ad submitted by the United Church of Christ implying the church was more accepting of homosexuals and minorities than other denominations. That was in keeping with a network policy forbidding advocacy ads on issues that attracted substantial community disagreement.

Such a standard certainly would apply to the Focus on the Family commercial, but CBS executives say they have reconsidered their policy and now welcome advocacy ads during the coveted Super Bowl broadcast. As long as the network applies this policy fairly to groups across the political spectrum, it’s a sensible move. There’s nothing in Federal Communications Commission rules to bar such commercials, and advocacy groups have as much right to distribute their messages as corporate advertisers.

Some football fans will be offended by an antiabortion commercial during the Super Bowl, or at least annoyed at having a battle ax from the culture wars hurled through their TV sets while they’re trying to enjoy the game. They’re free to choose to get up and get a beverage when the ad comes on — just as, thankfully, American women are still free to choose whether to be mothers.

// Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

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Proclamation – America Seeks God in a Time of War – 1776-77

Posted by faithandthelaw on January 30, 2010

In light of America’s current war in Iraq and ongoing war against terrorism, the actions of our Founding Fathers in times of war are instructive. This is the text of the first national day of thanksgiving in America (set for December 18, 1777), declared by the Continental Congress on November 1, 1777:

IN CONGRESS

November 1, 1777

FORASMUCH as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of; And it having pleased him in his abundant Mercy not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence, but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary War, for the Defence and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties; particularly in that he hath been pleased in so great a Measure to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops and to crown our Arms with most signal success:

It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive powers of these United States, to set apart THURSDAY, the eighteenth Day of December next, for Solemn Thanksgiving and Praise; That with one Heart and one Voice the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor; and that together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favour, and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please GOD, through the Merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance; That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole; to inspire our Commanders both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty GOD, to secure for these United States the greatest of all human blessings, INDEPENDENCE and PEACE; That it may please him to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People and the Labour of the Husbandman, that our Land may yet yield its Increase; To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand, and to prosper the Means of Religion for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom which consisteth “in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.”

And it is further recommended, that servile Labour, and such Recreation as, though at other Times innocent, may be unbecoming the Purpose of this Appointment, be omitted on so solemn an Occasion.

Extract from the Minutes,

Charles Thomson, Secr.

[This proclamation can be found in: Journals of the American Congress From 1774 to 1788 (Washington: Way and Gideon, 1823), Vol. II, pp. 309-310]


This is text excerpted from a national fast declared by the Continental Congress on March 16, 1776:

IN CONGRESS

In times of impending calamity and distress; when the liberties of America are imminently endangered by the secret machinations and open assaults of an insidious and vindictive administration, it becomes the indispensable duty of these hitherto free and happy colonies, with true penitence of heart, and the most reverent devotion, publickly to acknowledge the over ruling providence of God; to confess and deplore our offences against him; and to supplicate his interposition for averting the threatened danger, and prospering our strenuous efforts in the cause of freedom, virtue, and posterity.
. . . Desirous, at the same time, to have people of all ranks and degrees duly impressed with a solemn sense of God’s superintending providence, and of their duty, devoutly to rely, in all their lawful enterprizes, on his aid and direction, Do earnestly recommend, that Friday, the Seventeenth day of May next, be observed by the said colonies as a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance to frustrate the cruel purposes of our unnatural enemies;
. . . that it may please the Lord of Hosts, the God of Armies, to animate our officers and soldiers with invincible fortitude, to guard and protect them in the day of battle, and to crown the continental arms, by sea and land, with victory and success: Earnestly beseeching him to bless our civil rulers, and the representatives of the people, in their several assemblies and conventions; to preserve and strengthen their union, to inspire them with an ardent, disinterested love of their country; to give wisdom and stability to their counsels; and direct them to the most efficacious measures for establishing the rights of America on the most honourable and permanent basis—That he would be graciously pleased to bless all his people in these colonies with health and plenty, and grant that a spirit of incorruptible patriotism, and of pure undefiled religion, may universally prevail; and this continent be speedily restored to the blessings of peace and liberty, and enabled to transmit them inviolate to the latest posterity. And it is recommended to Christians of all denominations, to assemble for public worship, and abstain from servile labour on the said day.

 [Source: Journals of the American Congress From 1774 to 1788 (Washington: Way and Gideon, 1823), Vol. I, pp. 286-287]

Courtesy of Wallbuilders

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Speaking Up for Religious Rights at Our Public Universities

Posted by faithandthelaw on January 30, 2010


 
 
 
 
 
We are a nation founded on the ideals of individual freedom and religious liberty. Yet here in America, Christian students and faculty who want to live out their faith regularly have their constitutional rights denied. Unconstitutional acts preventing the right to hear and speak the Truth are not infrequent or isolated—the Alliance Defense Fund has identified more than 200 public colleges and universities that have unconstitutional policies limiting the freedom of Christians and Christian student groups. In addition to overt censorship, Christian students and faculty often face punishment or reprisal for openly expressing their beliefs. Hundreds of colleges and universities maintain so-called “speech codes” that restrict free speech, codes that are all too often selectively enforced against Christians.  Dozens of universities have attempted to eject Christian student groups from campus, and the Alliance Defense Fund has identified an emerging trend of professional schools requiring Christian students to disavow their beliefs before they are granted a degree.

At the same time that they restrict Christians’ speech and access, colleges and universities regularly support, accommodate, and even celebrate groups that reject cornerstone American values. This sort of bias is not only illegal—it is alarmingly pervasive.  It is happening on campuses from New York to California, including some of America’s most well-known public universities.

There are serious consequences to an academic environment that is so hostile to Christians.  If you doubt the lasting impact on the attitudes and behaviors of our future leaders, consider this:  According to a study from Barna Research Group, more than 60 percent of previously churched young people fall away from their faith practices during their college years.  UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute has found that student church attendance drops by almost 50% in the two and a half short years between the beginning of freshman year and the end of junior year.

The Alliance Defense Fund has long been committed to protecting and preserving Our First Liberty—religious freedom.  And our Center for Academic Freedom is spearheading this effort on our nation’s campuses. But we strive to do more.

We have, therefore, dedicated significant time, effort, and resources to educate and empower the millions of Christian students and faculty who face censorship, reprisal, and punishment.  The ADF Center for Academic Freedom helps ordinary people—Christians who simply wish to freely and openly live and share their faith—to make their voices heard, to Speak Up.

We have created SpeakUpMovement.org as a resource for Christian students, faculty, and staff.  Our objective is for more Christians at public universities to understand their rights and for more of them to Speak Up in defense of their most basic liberties.  By speaking up, students and professors do far more than preserve their own voice and own ministries, they restore ordered liberty to campus and enable the voice and ministries of all those who follow their example.  By directly challenging universities, students and professors can win significant, precedent-setting legal victories; restore a university environment that honors justice and equality of opportunity; and create a future where constitutional rights are freely exercised—not taken away.

You can help give Christian student groups equal access to campus funding, facilities, and resources.  You can protect Christian students and faculty from academic or professional retaliation.  You can help to create a legal environment for Christian students and faculty to live out their faith.  You too can Speak Up.

If we don’t resist censorship, we will lose our religious liberty.  It is that simple.  We urge you to join concerned Christians from across America and our Center for Academic Freedom in the Speak Up movement.  To donate your time, your voice, and your financial support, visit www.SpeakUpMovement.org.

Courtesy of  alliancedefensefund.org at  http://www.alliancedefensefund.org/issues/ReligiousFreedom/UniversityLife.aspx

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Persecution of Street Preacher Touches on Basic Issues of Freedom

Posted by faithandthelaw on January 29, 2010

Sadly when it comes to finding new ways to persecute Christians for living their faith, some school officials aren’t letting any grass grow under their feet.

In Edison, New Jersey, for example, Robert Parker was standing on a sidewalk outside the local high school, sharing the Gospel. Classes were over and the school day was at an end. Parker spoke respectfully to students as they left the campus.

The school principal came out and ordered Parker to leave. Parker patiently explained that he was well within his First Amendment-protected rights to speak and freely exercise his religion. The Constitution, however, made no impression on the principal, who promptly called the police.

Upon arriving, the police officers instructed students not to go near Parker. That still wasn’t enough for the principal, though. Despite the fact that Parker was standing on a public sidewalk, polite, gracious, and well within his rights, the principal demanded that he be arrested. A video camera recorded all this … as well as what happened next.

As he talked calmly with police on the sidewalk, the toe of Parker’s shoe brushed the grass of the campus lawn. The police promptly arrested him for “defiant trespassing” and “disorderly conduct.”

ADF-allied attorney Demetrios Stratis of Fair Lawn took Parker’s case, filing a motion to dismiss the charges with the Superior Court of New Jersey, Middlesex County. The court subsequently issued an order dismissing the charges in State of New Jersey v. Parker. The Edison Municipal Court, where the charges and complaint were still pending, later complied with the higher court’s decision and dismissed the charges.

“Christians shouldn’t be arrested and charged as criminals for expressing their beliefs on public property,” Stratis says. “First Amendment protections apply to them as much as to anyone else in America. A person cannot be charged with a crime just because a school official has a complete misunderstanding of the First Amendment or doesn’t like what that person has to say. We are pleased that we prevailed in court in getting these unwarranted criminal charges dropped.”

No matter where Christians try to put their best foot forward in America today, someone seems to be waiting to trip them up. Many of our fellow citizens – and not a few government officials – seem all too eager to exploit any legal resource to silence the voice of faith in our communities.

The faithful prayers and generous gifts of caring friends like you are equipping the Alliance Defense Fund to keep hundreds of legal doors open for the spread of the Gospel. Thank you, and God bless you for all that you make possible.

Courtesy of ADF

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PASTOR CALLS FOR BOYCOTT OF HOUSTON

Posted by faithandthelaw on January 27, 2010

new Web site is urging people to “Boycott Houston.”

Why? Because the site’s owner thinks the city is becoming “a Texas version of San Francisco” and “the abortion capital of America.” Translation: David Grisham of Amarillo doesn’t like Houston electing a gay mayor or Planned Parenthood’s plans to open a big facility here.

Grisham is also behind repentamarillo.com, which calls on Christians to enter spiritual warfare to save Amarillo’s soul.

“If you were to do a poll 85 to 90 percent of people in Houston would say they were a Christian. Well how in the world could an openly homosexual mayor get elected?” Grisham asked during a brief interview, where he also said he has nothing personal against Parker.

So far, the boycott hasn’t gained much traction. A petition on the Web site in support of the boycott has been signed by just four people so far, including “Hugh Jass.”

In a written statement, Parker said: “I don’t take this personally. Of course, every city has the far fringe on both sides of the spectrum. This is greatly offset by the large amount of communication from people who want to come here because Houston is progressive, diverse and tolerant.”

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Christian in Egypt: ‘They Try to Kill Us’

Posted by faithandthelaw on January 27, 2010

Egyptian Maher El-Gowhary and his 15 year old daughter Dina never pray twice at the same church, never stay longer than a month in any one apartment.  They are constantly under threat, always on the run because they converted to Christianity in a largely Muslim country.

Maher and Dina nervously agreed to meet us at a Church in Cairo. The priest at the Church said he feared problems from the Egyptian authorities and while he agreed to have us watch his Sunday mass, the Priest  declined to speak to us about what is happening in Egypt and to the El-Gowhary’s.

They tell their story out of fear and desperation.  Born Muslims they chose to convert to the Christian Church after both claim they had religious visions.

Now Maher says “Muslims try to kill us,  and will kill us if they find us.”

Several religious fatwas have been issued for “spilling his blood” after Maher asked an Egyptian Court to legally recognize his conversion, so he can one day be buried as a Christian and so his daughter won’t be forced into a marriage by her Muslim mother.

The court ruled a legal conversion to Christianity would threaten public order.  His lawyer told us it’s a dangerous double standard because in Egypt a Christian can convert to the Muslim faith in a week, but a Muslim cannot convert to the Christian faith.

Ten percent of Egypt is Christian, largely the Coptic Christians who increasingly say they face daunting discrimination and even death.

We had to hide our camera as we followed the El-Gowhary’s because we were told if the authorities discovered we were preparing our story we would be arrested.

Religious tensions are running high in Egypt.

On January 6th, the Coptic Christmas eve, three Muslim men sprayed gunfire at a Church in Upper Egypt killing six Christians and wounding up to a dozen more.  Christians rioted the next day and the area is still closed to outsiders including the press.

Human rights activist Hussein Bahjet say’s Egypt has the potential to become like Lebanon because of growing sectarian violence.

“Civil strife that could engulf the country” Bahjet says.

The U.S. State Department reports respect of religious freedom in Egypt is declining, Christians are denied Government jobs, Priests are threatened and harassed, Christians are increasingly attacks in what State describes as “a climate of impunity that encourages violence.”

In some cases authorities turn a blind eye to attacks on Christians, in other cases there is evidence police sparked the attacks.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been largely silent about the problem, but this week he spoke out saying Egyptians must up-root “fanaticism and sectarianism, which threatens the unit of our nation.”

Dina has written a letter to President Obama which has been published on Christian websites.  She has been pulled out of school. She has only a blue jean jacket to stay warm and little food to eat.  Her letter was a desperate plea.  “I wrote that we are a minority Christian Community treated very badly and I want to tell President Obama to tell the Egyptian Government to treat us well.”

Her father Mayer says he can’t stay in Egypt anymore.   He and his daughter are in such grave danger we can’t report where they are in Egypt now, or where they are planning on moving tomorrow.

In recent days the two  met with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in Cairo.   They asked for refugee status to get out of Egypt.

A source at the Commission say’s its a complicated matter because Dina has a Muslim mother and there are legal issues, but their request is being considered.

The Commission source also says because of religious discrimination in Egypt, last year the State Department down graded Egypt to being on a watch list.  This year it could potentially be downgraded further to a Country of particular concern.   That means the U.S. might even consider sanctions against a Country which receives some 2 billion dollars in U.S. aid every year.

As I write this Dina and her father are packing, moving to another area of Egypt. Out of money. And running of out hope.

Courtesy of Foxnews.com

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Ministry Urges Churches to Celebrate Creation Sunday, Not Evolution Sunday

Posted by faithandthelaw on January 27, 2010

Contact: Rev Tony Breeden, CreationLetter.com, 304-993-4792, creationletter@yahoo.com 

CHARLESTON, WV, Jan. 26 /Christian Newswire/ — CreationLetter.com is urging churches to celebrate Creation Sunday this February 14th to counter the Clergy Letter Project’s Evolution Sunday, scheduled on the same date.

As the Year of Darwin comes to a close and we enter the Post-Darwin Century, CreationLetter.com is renewing its efforts to answer the challenge the Clergy Letter Project represents to the plain, traditional interpretation of Genesis.

Since 2004, the Clergy Letter Project has been recruiting ministers as evolution advocates, promoting the idea that “religious truth is of a different order than scientific truth,” echoing an unBiblical notion popularized by the late Stephen J Gould: non-overlapping magisteria, or NOMA.

“Jesus refuted the concept of NOMA in John 3:12,” notes CreationLetter.com founder Rev. Tony Breeden, “when He pointedly asked Nicodemus, ‘If I’ve told you of earthly things and ye believe not, how shall ye believe if I tell ye of spiritual things?’ How can you trust the Bible for spiritual things like the Gospel for salvation when you can’t trust what Genesis says about earthly things like biology, geology and so on? The Bible isn’t a science textbook, but if we can’t trust it when it speaks on science, when can we trust it?”

Nevertheless, the Clergy Letter has a list of over 12,000 ministers who affirm that evolution is true while the Genesis record is a teaching myth like Aesop’s Fables.

“We don’t follow cleverly devised fables. The plain meaning of Genesis is clear: supernatural creation in six calendar days. It’s sad when ministers compromise the authority of God’s revealed Word in favor of man’s fallible opinions. So-called science advocacy [read: evolution enforcement] groups use those 12,000 clergy signatures to allege that Christians need have no problem with evolution. Yet statistics demonstrate that most children who are taught evolution as scientific fact go on to reject religious truth wholesale,” states Rev. Breeden. “That’s a real concern. Nobody thinks of eternity when they preach Darwin from our pulpits on an Evolution Sunday.”

CreationLetter.com provides an opportunity for Christians to answer this challenge to Biblical authority and the foundational basis of the Gospel. Visitors can sign a Creation Letter affirming the historical veracity of a literal Genesis. They’ll also find information on how to celebrate Creation Sunday this February 14th in place of the Clergy Letter’s Evolution Sunday.

CreationLetter.com is a ministry of DefendingGenesis.org.

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CBS Stands Behind Acceptance of Focus on Family Spot : says it will consider all “responsibly produced ads” for remaining slots in Super Bowl

Posted by faithandthelaw on January 26, 2010

By John Eggerton — Broadcasting & Cable, 1/26/2010 2:13:13 PM

CBS Tuesday (Jan. 26) stood behind its decision to take a Super Bowl ad from Focus on the Family that has drawn fire from reproductive choice organizations. The network said it does not reject advocacy ads out of hand, and added that it would consider “responsibly produced ads from all groups” for the “few” remaining spots in the broadcast.

“We have for some time moderated our approach to advocacy submissions after it became apparent that our stance did not reflect public sentiment or industry norms on the issue,” CBS said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday. “In fact, most media outlets have accepted advocacy ads for some time. At CBS, our standards and practices process continues to adhere to a process that ensures all ads — on all sides of an issue — are appropriate for air.

“We will continue to consider responsibly produced ads from all groups for the few remaining spots in Super Bowl XLIV,” the network said.

That came in response to the announcement that the Women’s Media Center, National Organization For Women and more than two dozen other groups have launched a campaign to pressure CBS into pulling a Super Bowl “pro-life” ad bought by Focus on the Family.

That campaign includes a letter it delivered to CBS today, according to a spokeswoman, and e-mails its members are sending today to CBS, the NFL, and advertisers in the game.

The letter calls on CBS to reject what the groups call an anti-choice ad that advances Focus on the Family’s Agenda.

They argue that CBS has rejected advocacy ads in the past, including from PETA, MoveOn.org and the United Church of Christ.

The spot in question is expected to feature Florida Gators quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and his mother talking about how she refused to have an abortion after she was advised to do so by doctors.

The NFL backed the CBS decision. “CBS standards and practices department approved the content of the ad as appropriate for the audience. We take no issue with CBS’ decision,” said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.

A CBS spokesperson had told B&C’s Claire Atkinson last week that the network had vetted the spot’s script and did not expect to have any trouble with the video.

“It is not inflammatory or divisive,” a CBS exec told Atkinson last week.

Courtesy of Broadcastingcable.com at http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/445978-CBS_Stands_Behind_Acceptance_Of_Focus_On_Family_Spot.php?rssid=20065

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GOD IS AD CAMPAIGN TO HIT 1000 NYC SUBWAYS

Posted by faithandthelaw on January 25, 2010

By Jennifer Riley|Christian Post Reporter

Pro-God ads will hit some 1,000 subway cars throughout New York City beginning Friday, announced the New York church sponsoring the campaign.

Times Square Church, located in the heart of Times Square in New York City, will launch its ad campaign in hundreds of subway cars and on 50 platform posters in Manhattan stations at the end of this week.

Ads will boldly feature the words “God is” in the center,surrounded by words describing God’s qualities in colorful fonts. Among the “God is” attributes are: with you, willing to help, able to protect, a father, a husband to the widow, your friend, aware of your struggle, a good listener, the one who loves you, power to change, incredible, ready to forgive, there when no one else is, looking at you, Jesus.

“We want to encourage people to seek God and prove that indeed He is,” explains Carter Conlon, senior pastor of Times Square Church. “The ads describe God in just a few of the infinite ways He proves His presence to us every day.”

Bringing God into the public square is nothing new to Times Square Church. In September, the church hosted “Prayer in the Square” that attracted as many as 60,000 people representing over 300 churches and 65 youth organizations for an hour of prayer in Times Square.

In its latest attempt to get people talking about God and religion, the church hopes to not just draw unbelievers, but also former believers.

“We are praying that people who don’t know God and would like to know Him, would be moved by these ads to visit Times Square Church or any Bible believing church in New York City and find God through the forgiveness freely offered through His Son, Jesus Christ,” Conlon said. “And to those who once knew God and need to get back to God, we want to say simply this: His arms are open wide always ready to welcome you home.”

Times Square Church is an inter-denominational,multinational congregation founded by best-selling author, the Rev. David Wilkerson, who wrote The Cross and the Switchblade. More than 8,000 people, representing more than 100 different nationalities, gather to worship each week at Times Square Church.

Courtesy of Christianpost.com

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