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From cnn.com “Bishop Eddie Long has apologized to the Anti-Defamation League over an incident in which he was wrapped in a Torah scroll and crowned “king.”
As shown in a video that went viral, the televangelist was wrapped in a “Holocaust Torah” and crowned king during a recent ceremony at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, his suburban Atlanta congregation.
“The ceremony was not my suggestion, nor was it my intent, to participate in any ritual that is offensive in any manner to the Jewish community, or any group. Furthermore, I sincerely denounce any action that depicts me as a King, for I am merely just a servant of the Lord,” Long wrote in a letter dated Saturday.
The letter was addressed to Bill Nigut, southeast regional director of the Anti-Defamation League — a Jewish group that fights anti-Semitism.
“While I believe that Rabbi Ralph Messer has good intentions during his message at New Birth, I understand that the ceremony he performed on Sunday, January 29th, caused harm to the Jewish community, for which I am deeply sorry,” Long wrote.
On Sunday, Nigut acknowledged the apology and said he was grateful for it.
The Advertising Standards Authority, a media watchdog in London, accused the Bath-based Healing on the Streets (HOTS) group of giving false hope to the sick, preventing those with specific illnesses including cancer, asthma, and other conditions from seeking medical assistance due to their prayer claims.
But the organization asserted that all they were doing was offering prayer for people, giving them the chance to encounter a Heavenly Father who loved them, the group explained to The Christian Post.
“It’s up to the individual to decide for themselves if they would like to receive prayer,” said Paul Skelton, the founder of HOTS. “We don’t force them, we don’t make guarantees, we simply offer and that’s all.”
But Hayley Stevens, the blogger who submitted the complaint to the ASA asking them to investigate the group, believed that there was potential “for damage to be done,” especially for people who already mistrusted doctors and conventional medicine.
Stevens, a humanist and co-host of the Righteous Indignation Podcast, initially witnessed the group offering healing to people outside of a cathedral during a visit to Bath last year and began researching for more details on their website.
HOTS typically ministered to people in the square below Bath Abbey every Tuesday, Thursday and second Saturday of the month under a “Healing” banner.
“I was quite concerned at the claims I found there about illnesses and conditions that this group seemed to be promoting as healable through prayer,” she penned on her personal blog. “At the same time I became conflicted about what to do next because I knew that no matter what I did, I would be accused by people of being anti-religious.”
But as time passed and she became more aware of their activities and claims, she did not feel comfortable ignoring her concerns and made a complaint to the ASA.
“I did not feel that the claims being made and the emphasis being put on their success was justifiable,” she added. “I felt the ads were irresponsible, because they provided false hope to those suffering from the named conditions and that is why I made the complaint.”
HOTS’ website states that their vision was to “promote Christian healing as a daily life style for every believer, through demonstration, training and equipping.”
“We are working in unity, from numerous churches outside the four walls of the building, in order to: heal the sick, share God’s love, and equip the Church,” HOTS also noted.
Additionally, the site has a small section featuring testimonials of people being healed after receiving prayer from the group.
“My stepfather said he came and found you on the streets and you guys prayed for him and he’s feeling much better,” one person wrote. “I am so pleased he came to see you, he said something just propelled him out of the coffee shop into the Abbey Courtyard…wow….great stuff…”
The ASA adjudication also highlighted a leaflet available for download on the HOTS site, which read, “Need Healing? God can heal today! Do you suffer from back pain, arthritis, MS, addiction…ulcers, depression, allergies, fibromyalgia…or any other sicknesses? We’d love to pray for your healing right now! We’re Christians from churches in Bath and we pray in the name of Jesus. We believe that God loves you and can heal you from any sicknesses.”
Stevens, who personally experienced a life threatening condition in her ear that required surgery, argued, “I couldn’t care less if somebody believes it is God, Allah or the Flying Spaghetti monster that will heal the sick, but I do care when claims are being made that might be [providing] those who are extremely ill with hope where hope does not exist.”
If she had postponed or waved off her surgery due to claims of healing being sent her way from friends who were involved with the paranormal research field, she would not be alive today, she shared.
“I don’t even like to think what would have happened if I had been someone who didn’t trust conventional medicine and, luckily for both me and the people who ‘sent healing’ I wasn’t.”
Though she had no issue with people praying for the healing of others in their own personal way, she objected to the organization’s claims of healing through prayer, which were allegedly being touted as a potential cure, especially when people were “vulnerable.” Read full story
From WBIR.com “After a man collapsed, stopped breathing, and showed no sign of a pulse, people surrounding him at the time thought he had died. When he woke up several minutes later, the crowd was stunned and now point to faith as the answer.
On January 22nd, Fred McAfee attended a morning worship at Covenant Life Worship Center in Lake City. He got out of his chair to give an offering, and collapsed suddenly.
“No breath, no heartbeat… just completely collapsed,” remembers Pastor Tony McAfee.
Several people attempted to revive Fred McAfee, and an ambulance was called. While the congregation waited, they prayed.
“Its an amazing story, really, about the power of prayer,” said the pastor. “And that miracles still do happen.”
After about 10 minutes, McAfee suddenly awoke. He credits his faith for his survival.
“They gave me CPR, mouth-to-mouth, chest compression… but I give God the credit and the glory,” he said. “Because he’s the one that raised me up.”
Dr. Kip Wenger works in the Emergency Room at UT Medical Center. He did not treat McAfee, but has seen similar cases.
“There are times, on a monthly basis, where someone is believed to be dead and their heart stops, and all of sudden, things get better,” he said.
Dr. Wenger said the most accurate way to determine death is by measuring electro-activity of the heart. He said that is difficult to do outside of a hospital, where machines usually provide results.
“We really want to see if there’s any electro-activity of the heart. Sometimes we get tricked, to be honest. The absence of a pulse sometimes occurs, and yet, somebody is not dead.”
While some point to science, and others to faith, Wenger said strange things can happen when a heart stops beating.
“It’s a little eerie,” he said. “When you talk to these folks, you get a sense that there’s something on that other side.”
Whatever it is, McAfee isn’t worried.
“Once you leave here you’re going home to be with Jesus.”
Robert William Schambach, the legendary American evangelist who brought “countless thousands” to personal faith in Jesus Christ has died of heart failure, his organization and daughter said in comments monitored by BosNewsLife Saturday, January 28. He was 85.
“Legendary father of faith, R.W. Schambach, was received by the Lord to his reward Tuesday, January 17, when his heart failed,” said his Schambach Ministries organization. No more details were provided.
Schambach preached in more than 200 countries, often in circus tents, boldly proclaiming “You don’t have any trouble … all you need is faith in God,” the organization added.
Born on April 3, 1926 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Schambach “accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior” when he heard an evangelist, C.M. Ward preaching on a street corner, Christian friends said.
He began his evangelical six-decades journey as a navy boiler technician on board a destroyer in the South Pacific and Asia during World War Two. His daughter, Donna Schambach, said in published comments that he discovered that “in every port, God was still there.”
When he witnessed “the joy of prisoners of war being released,” he finally said “yes” to God, she added, quoting her father.
“He felt the Spirit of God tell him, ‘this is what freedom is,’” his daughter recounted. “He said he knelt on that ship and said ‘I give up; I’ll give you my life to preach the freedom of the Gospel.’ That was his initiation into the ministry.”
Soon after, Schambach and his wife began traveling the world to often difficult areas with international “crusades”, as their evangelistic meetings were called, and inner-city tent meetings.
He and his wife, Mary Winifred, were “bringing countless thousands to the saving knowledge of Jesus for over six decades,” Schambach Ministries explained.
Schambach was also regularly and posthumously seen, in addition to his syndicated television programs, on Christian broadcasters such as Trinity Broadcasting Network’s (TBN) as well as the DayStar and INSP networks.
After his wife of 62 years passed away in 2010, he continued preaching the Gospel.
Donna Schambach was expected to continue her parents’ Texas-based Schambach Ministries, in which she has played a key role as an associate pastor and evangelist since the 1980s. She said preaching is in her DNA. The couple also have two sons, Bobby and Bruce.
In a statement seen by BosNewsLife, Donna Schambach urged supporters to “in lieu of flowers” also “consider making a financial contribution to the ongoing work of Schambach Ministries.”
“We thank you for your love, prayers, and support during this time,” she said.
President Barack Obama spoke today at the National Prayer Breakfast, saying Jesus’s teachings have shaped his beliefs about taxes. He told the audience that the rich should pay more not only because “I actually think that is going to make economic sense, but for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’ teaching that ‘for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.” Here’s the video of the event at the Washington Hilton. Watch the video
Joel Osteen appears to be blessed with an impressive beach body. The controversial televangelist was soaking up the sun and surf in Hawaii with his wife Victoria, son Johnathan and daughter Alexandra.
He leads the biggest church in America with 40,000 members.
This week, Joel Osteen is in Hawaii preaching his message of hope.
“Meeting him finally is basically a dream come true,” said Katherine Higa.
The New York Times reported Osteen one of the most influential people on Twitter.
Hundreds of his biggest fans met the preacher at a book signing at Kahala Mall.
Overcome with emotion and happiness, fans of Osteen rejoiced after meeting him for the first time.
“Unbelievable. It means so much to me. He touched my heart,” said Betty Anzalone.
“I’m so excited he just shook my hand. He’s so loving and kind and I feel it generate out of him,” said Barbara Schade.
Osteen preaches his Christian message to sold out arenas in twelve cities each year.
His appearance Friday night at the Blaisdell Arena is already sold out. This is his first visit to Hawaii in his twelve years of ministry.
“Our message is God is good. He’s on your side and he wants you to live a blessed life. Part of message too is that even if you’ve made mistakes you can get to where God wants you to be,” said Osteen.
A long line of fans waited patiently to meet the preacher, but some critics of Osteen say he teaches “gospel lite,” a watered down version of Christianity.
“I do see where they’re coming from, but he always stresses God’s not focusing on what you’re doing wrong in your life but what you’re doing right in your life,” said Higa.
He responded to what some of his critics are saying about his message.
“I think i do talk about the negative things and adversities but the Bible says it’s the goodness of God that leads people to repent. I believe there’s enough pushing people down. I like telling people you may have made mistakes, but God can forgive you,” said Osteen
A ceremony held Sunday at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, in which Bishop Eddie Long was wrapped in a sacred Torah scroll and carried upon a throne, has the Internet abuzz and Jewish religious leaders offended and questioning its appropriateness.
“He’s a king. God has blessed him,” said Rabbi Ralph Messer before covering Long in a scroll “[that] may still have the dust of Auschwitz and Birkenau.” Messer referred to the Nazi extermination camps in Poland where millions of Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. Watch the Video
A Torah’s use in a ceremony ordaining Long as “a king” is offensive to many Jews, said Bill Nigut, Southeast Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League.
The ceremony at Long’s Lithonia church, viewed more than 139,000 times on YouTube, “in no way represents any Jewish ritual that I’m familiar with,” Nigut said. “We do not proclaim individuals to be kings.”
Messer said his parchment, a handwritten copy of the holiest book within Judaism, was 312 years old. His mention of Auschwitz-Birkenau implied the scroll was one of those recovered from the death camps when they were liberated by the Allies toward the end of World War II.
It’s impossible to authenticate Messer’s claim without examining the texts up close, said Rabbi Joshua Heller of Congregation B’nai Torah in Sandy Springs. While rare, Torahs can be easily purchased, even on eBay, he said.
“There are a fair number of Torah scrolls that survived the war,” said Heller, adding roughly 1,500 were rescued from Czechoslovakia alone.
More disturbing was the use of this particular Torah in an inappropriate setting, experts on religion say.
“The connection of the Torah scroll to the Holocaust and then to Eddie Long is incomprehensible to me,” said David P. Gushee, a professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University. Gushee is a scholar of the Holocaust and has visited Auschwitz several times.
“What was the point? Was it to signal that Eddie Long was suffering persecution like the Jews at Auschwitz?” Gushee asked.
Messer’s son, Minister Russell Messer of Simchat Torah Beit Midrash in Parker, Colo., said his father purchased the parchment and relied on the word of its seller regarding its provenance. “It came through that generation of Europe,” the younger Messer said.
Christianpost reports ” An expert on Islam said Thursday that the United States and other Western nations are indirectly aiding the spread of radical Islamic groups abroad.”
Dr. Patrick Sookhdeo, international director of U.K.-based Barnabas Fund, said at a lecture hosted by Family Research Council that the “Arab Spring” is a good example of how the United States and other nations are enabling the spread of Islamism, especially in Libya and Egypt.
In Libya, he said, the support given by NATO and the U.S. to the rebel group, known as the NTC, is a matter of concern.
“We had to support the NTC, which was the rebel group,” said Sookhdeo, who added that “they were a coalition of groups that included al-Qaida.”
“We have removed one dictator and replaced that dictator with a political ideology rooted in a religion that wants our destruction.”
From that example, Sookhdeo moved to Egypt, which also recently had a dictatorship toppled by the civilian uprising.
“The conclusion is the Salafist Wahhabists have effectively triumphed,” said Sookhdeo, noting that the elections resulted in the Salafists gaining around 60 percent of the seats in the legislature.
Sookhdeo, a former Muslim who now heads a Christian persecution watchdog group, also believes the Republic of Turkey is also on the verge of having an Islamist government.
“So we all back Turkey, but Turkey is changing. It’s not the Turkey of Ataturk, but the Turkey of a new political order which is increasingly religious,” said Sookhdeo.
The Historical Parallel
Sookhdeo spent the first half of the lecture focusing on documenting the religious component of the rise of Nazism in Germany. He drew a parallel between the threat that Nazism posed to Christian leaders then, and the similar threat faced by Christians in the U.S., Europe, and the Muslim world today with radical Islam.
He talked about the “Protestant Reich Church,” which was the denomination Nazi leadership set up in order to unify German Protestantism into a singular pro-Nazi entity. In response to it, theologians like Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer founded the “Confessing Church,” which resisted Nazi efforts to control Protestantism and also spoke out against the regime as a whole. Full story
BosNews reports that “China has unexpectedly released the deputy chairman of a major organization representing the country’s growing number of house churches, after he served six months of a two-year “re-education through labor” sentence, rights activists told BosNewsLife Tuesday January 24.
Pastor Shi Enhao of the Chinese House Church Alliance was freed Friday, January 20, explained advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), which closely monitored the case.
The reason for his early release was not immediately known.
Pastor Shi Enhao was given the two-year sentence in July 2011 for “holding illegal meetings and organizing illegal venues for religious meetings” due to his role in the unofficial Chinese house church network.
Chinese Christians said he was “now safely at home” with his family. The “re-education through labor” system, through which Chinese citizens can be sentenced without a trial, was given by officials in China’s Jiangsu province, trial observers said.
HUNDRERDS OF CHURCHES
Pastor Shi, who oversees several hundred house churches with thousands of members, had previously disappeared on June 12 last year, last year before police reportedly confirmed his detention on nine days later.
CSW said early release is rare, except in cases of illness.
Pastor Shi is deputy chairman of the Chinese House Church Alliance, a large umbrella organization for house churches. Leaders of the group have faced “severe persecution” in the past, including arrest, imprisonment and harassment, CSW and Chinese Christians say.
Pastor Shi had reportedly been harassed for some time prior to his arrest.” Full story