Thirty-three million Americans are expected to ditch their turkey and mashed potatoes and swarm the mall on Thanksgiving Day this year. Eager to maximize a shorter shopping window this year, abbreviated by six days because Thanksgiving falls in the last week of November, retailers are starting their deals and opening their stores earlier than ever.
K-Mart and Old Navy are opening at 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. respectively on the holiday. Walmart will be also be open the entire holiday and commences its "Black Friday" deals at 6 p.m, the hour that electronic retailer Best Buy unlocks its doors. Staples, Sears, Macy's, J.C. Penney and Kohl's will welcome the onslaught of bargain hunters at 8 p.m.
Jim Wallis, President of the Christian social justice group Sojourners, offered a frank assessment of the season's manic shopping tendencies. more >>
As the Christmas season approaches and a host of holiday-themed movies line up for release, "The Christmas Candle," based on the novel by Max Lucado, brings the Christmas miracle to the big screen through the story of an enchanting English village harboring a centuries-old legend, and a progressive pastor struggling with the nature of faith.
The movie, based on the 2006 novel of the same name, features a stellar cast with Hans Matheson (Clash of the Titans, Sherlock Holmes), Samantha Barks (Les Miserables), Sylvester McCoy (The Hobbit), James Cosmo (Braveheart, The Chronicles of Narnia), as well as the on-screen debut of Susan Boyle.
The story takes place in a fictional village deep in the heart of the English countryside in 1890, which for centuries has witnessed a Christmas miracle with an angel who visits a candlemaker family every 25 years and touches a candle, which grants a single miracle on Christmas Eve. more >>
A humanist organization is threatening lawsuits against two public schools for their participation in Operation Christmas Child, a project of evangelist Franklin Graham's international Christian relief organization Samaritan's Purse that seeks to deliver Christmas toys to needy children throughout the world.
The American Humanist Association recently sent letters to two public elementary schools, one in South Carolina and one in Colorado, threatening legal action if they continue participating in Operation Christmas Child, which delivers thousands of shoe boxes stuffed with gifts to needy children throughout the world every year during the holidays. Along with containing small gifts, the shoe boxes also include a small note inviting recipients to join in Christianity. The American Humanist Organization argues that Operation Christmas Child's commitment to "[sharing] the life-changing Good News of Jesus Christ" means that public schools in the U.S. should not participate in the program.
In its letter sent to East Point Academy in West Columbia, S.C., the humanist association accuses the school of "promoting student participation" in the Operation Christmas Child program by encouraging students to assemble shoeboxes and donate money. According to the humanist organization, East Point Academy has been involved with Operation Christmas Child since 2011. more >>
Mars Hill Music has announced that on November 25 they will be releasing, Repeat the Sounding Joy, a Christmas EP from their band CITIZENS.
The EP will feature five songs including: "Joy to the World," "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," "Come and Stand Amazed," "O Come O Come Emmanuel" and "Silent Night."
CITIZENS' previous release was their first full-length and it reached No. 1 on the iTunes Christian and Gospel chart and also debuted in the Top 10 on the Billboard Heatseekers and Worship Albums charts. more >>
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is gearing up for the so-called "War on Christmas" this year by promoting products to help nonbelievers celebrate the winter solstice.
"Most people think December is strictly for Christians and view the solstice as an intrusion, when actually it's the other way around," Dan Barker, FFRF co-president, said in a statement. "People have been celebrating the winter solstice long before Christmas. We see Christianity as the intruder, trying to steal the natural holiday from all of us humans."
The Madison, Wis.-based organization said in a press release that winter solstice is "the real reason for the season." FFRF is selling, among other things, 14 varieties of winter solstice greeting cards that say things like "Reason's Greetings" and "Yes, Virginia . . . There Is No God" and more. more >>
Jars of Clay is giving away their hit song, "Fall Asleep," from new album, Inland, through a special NoiseTrade promotion that begins today to help raise money for relief efforts in the Philippines.
The proceeds from the single will go to support The Red Cross in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, which is reportedly the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in recorded history.
The "Fall Asleep" video made its debut on USAToday.com and was created in the Philippines. more >>