NEW YORK — Franklin Graham, president of nonprofit Samaritan's Purse, joined project organizers, local families and survivors of Hurricane Sandy at one of New York City's major airports this week to personally send off more than 60,000 gifts to some of Typhoon Haiyan's most vulnerable victims in the Philippines.
"Do you know what these gifts are going to mean to these kids? It means that somebody loves them, it means they haven't been forgotten. It will mean everything in the world. It will give these little kids hope," Graham told more than 300 attendees at Thursday's event.
The evangelist and son of the Rev. Billy Graham was flanked by young singers of the Christian Heritage Academy and a loaded Boeing 747 over his shoulder as he thanked participants during the send-off ceremony at Hangar 19 at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK). more >>
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is countering the "Keep Christ in Christmas" billboards with its own "Keep Saturn in Saturnalia" ad – a reference to an ancient Roman god festival – which went up on Thursday in Pitman, N.J.
The atheist association, one of the largest in America, explained in a press release that the billboards are in a direct response to "Keep Christ in Christmas" displays by Roman Catholic society the Knights of Columbus. FFRF says that its local members were "stonewalled" in December 2012 when Pitman officials denied them a permit to display their "Saturn" banner, but allowed the Christmas one.
"FFRF first became involved in December 2011, when a resident reported the Christian banner as a potential state/church violation. Legal staff made numerous calls and sent messages to various public agencies and the Chamber of Commerce, including open records requests, and asked to erect FFRF's own banner, which wasn't allowed," the organization explained. more >>
Pastor Bill Wilson, who knows what it's like to be in need on Christmas, and his Metro World Child ministry are working to put gifts in the hands of an estimated 150,000 children worldwide who otherwise might not receive one at all.
Wilson says he knows what it's like to wake up on Christmas morning with no father, food, Christmas tree or presents to unwrap. His organization started Operation Holiday Hope about two decades ago so that other impoverished children don't have to go without a gift on Christmas.
Last Christmas season (2012) a fellowship of Christians from Orange County, Calif. partnered with believers in Santa Monica to deliver a Nativity flash mob gift to the popular Los Angeles County tourist destination. Watch soprano Lynette Tapia stun shoppers with her beautiful voice opening up the flash mob.
As a wonderful and heartfelt reminder of the purpose of Christmas, this was performed at the Santa Monica Place mall on December 16th, 2012.
The group decided it was time to encourage others, to let them know that celebrating Christmas with outward expressions of faith in the public square was OK. It did not matter that the city of Santa Monica decided that holding its 60-year tradition of Nativity scene displays at Palisades Park had become a hassle because of protesting atheists. It was not of major concern that the city cancelled the displays or that the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee had to find private land to keep its tradition alive. more >>
Fox News host Gretchen Carlson recently expressed her outrage at the installation of a six-foot tall festivus pole at the Florida Capitol building in Tallahasee, arguing that the pole takes away from the true meaning of Christmas.
While speaking on the Dec. 10 broadcast of Fox News' "The Real Story," Carlson told her guests, including David Silverman of the American Atheists, Catholic League President Bill Donohue, and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach that she was "outraged" the festivus pole was recently approved as a holiday display at Florida's Capitol building.
"I am so outraged by this," Carlson said, adding, "Why do I have to drive around with my kids to look for a nativity scene and be, like, 'Oh, yeah, kids, look, there's baby Jesus behind the Festivus pole made out of beer cans!' It's nuts!" more >>
We have collected holiday greetings released by some of today's best-known figures in politics, music, and movies.
1. Kelly Clarkson
Newlywed and pregnant, Kelly Clarkson posed with her husband Brandon Blackstock and her stepchildren in a Christmas card posted to Twitter this year. more >>