A group of 13 Greek Orthodox nuns who were abducted by a jihadist militia that raided their town in Syria on December 1 were seen attesting to their well being in a video aired on Al Jazeera Friday afternoon. It is a great relief to see that they were still alive. Other jihadist videos have been surfacing on social media, including a spate in recent days, graphically documenting their bloodletting, according to links in the Catholic service Asia News.
"The brothers are treating us well and have brought us from the convent here and we are very happy," one of the sisters is heard saying. Each of the sisters reportedly took turns speaking to the camera.
On Wednesday, the Greek-Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch told the international press that the nuns were in Yabrud, some 80 kilometers north of Damascus. However, their exact whereabouts have not been confirmed and church sources say they are being held captive by extremist rebels. more >>
A state worker in Colorado has filed an official complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division claiming she was forced to attend a lunch-hour Bible study while working at the Department of Education.
Theresa Chavez claimed in the recent complaint that during her time working at the Colorado Department of Education's Office of Professional Services and Educator Licensure, she was required to attend the bi-weekly Bible study sessions held by her supervisor, Norma Lawanson. The meetings reportedly took place every Wednesday and Thursday and Chavez claims that when she told Lawanson she wanted to stop attending the studies, she was punished.
"She told her supervisor that she no longer wanted to attend the studies, and things just went downhill from there," Chavez's attorney, Jennifer Robinson, told the local Denver 9WTK News for their investigative report on the alleged incident. "The Bible studies were on state property, at work, during work hours [and] using state resources." more >>
Ohio lawmakers are proposing a new bill that if passed would further protect religious freedoms, including prayer and references to Jesus, in the state's public schools. The bill comes after multiple cases in which public schools were forced to remove Jesus portraits from their campuses or face legal action from atheist groups.
The bill, the Ohio Religious Freedom Restoration Act, was introduced to the state legislature earlier this week by Rep. Bill Patmon (D-Cleveland) and Rep. Tim Derickson (R-Oxford), who argued that the legislation would block further encroachment on religious expression in the state. The bill has over three dozen additional co-sponsors.
"God gave us our rights, not the government, not the neighbor, but God. Government is here to protect those rights," Rep. Patmon said of the bill, according to NBC 4 News. "How many of our students, how many of our schools need prayer? It's a disservice that we do when we don't allow it, when we don't encourage it." more >>
A major atheist group unveiled its own nonreligious holiday monument at Florida's capitol building in response to the recent installment of a nativity scene.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is hanging a secular banner at the state's capitol building in Tallahassee. The banner is reportedly a spoof on the classic nativity scene of Jesus in the manger. Instead of Jesus, there is a Bill of Rights laid in a manger with Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and the Statue of Liberty gazing admiringly at the slip of paper. The banner reads in part: "Let us also honor the birth of our Bill of Rights, which reminds us there can be no freedom OF religion without having freedom FROM religion in government."
The banner is being hung in response to a nativity scene recently erected at the state's capitol building by the private Florida Nativity Scene Committee. The Capitol building is open to any group that wants to put up a display for the holidays, as long as they are first approved by the Department of Management Services. Another group has already put up a giant menorah to recognize the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. The displays are all privately funded, and they include a disclaimer nearby that asserts the state's government does not support any one religion. more >>
A bill has been proposed in the lower house of the Virginia General Assembly that would crack down on a practice known as "revenge porn."
Revenge porn is commonly understood to be the posting of nude or pornographic images of a person without their knowledge or consent in order to humiliate them. The action is typically done as a form of vengence against a former spouse or partner.
House Bill 49 was pre-filed Tuesday and set to be offered in January before the House of Delegates. If enacted, it will make "revenge porn" a Class 1 Misdemeanor. more >>
For as long as anyone can remember, teachers at Brooklet Elementary School have posted Christmas cards in the hallways outside their classrooms – until Monday.
When boys and girls returned from Thanksgiving break, they discovered that their teachers' Christmas cards had been removed – under orders from the Georgia school's administration.
Robb Kicklighter's wife is a third grade teacher at the school. He said many teachers are disgruntled by the school's decision to confiscate the Christmas cards. more >>