Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday to express disappointment in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a denomination to which he belongs, for its recent decisions to bless same-sex marriages in states where it is legal, and to divest from three American companies whose products are sold to Israel.
After noting that he is "a follower of Jesus and lifelong member" of the PCUSA denomination, he criticized the PCUSA General Assembly's recent decisions.
The decision to bless same-sex marriages "runs counter to the counsel of Scripture," he said. more >>
A group of Messianic Jewish leaders have signed an official statement denouncing Presbyterian Church (USA)'s consideration for divestment from companies doing business with Israel.
Released Thursday, the statement reaffirmed the leaders' commitment to supporting the modern state of Israel as the United States' largest Presbyterian denomination considers a divestment proposal at its upcoming General Assembly meeting.
"Amid continuing efforts to pressure and marginalize the state of Israel through boycotts and economic sanctions, the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly, meeting in Detroit, June 14-21, will consider proposals to pressure Israel through financial divestment," read the statement in part. more >>
Israel's Education Ministry announced on Sunday that for the first time ever evolution will be taught in the middle school core curriculum, which up until now offered only the biblical account of the origins of humanity. Ultra-orthodox groups have responded with mixed feelings on the matter, however, with some calling it a "mistake."
"Until now, there has been no discussion on the topic and students were not taught that the multitude of species is the result of processes of development among plants and animals," Professional Committee Chairwoman Professor Nava Ben-Zvi told Israel Hayom.
"The entire evolutionary perspective had not been written down [for them], as with the topics of ecology and the behavior of animals. It is important to explain how so many species came to be." more >>
Pope Francis slipped a Spanish version of the Lord's Prayer into Jerusalem's Western Wall during his visit to the Holy Land this week, according to the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which published the note.
During his visit to Jerusalem this past Monday, journalists photographed Francis saying a quick prayer at the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old City before slipping a note in between the stones of the wall, as is common tradition. After Francis departed from the Holy Land on Monday, the Western Wall Heritage Foundation published the contents of his note, handwritten on official papal letterhead and signed by the simple name "Francis."
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. Franciscus," the letter read, translated from its original writing in Spanish. more >>
A minor, accidental fire broke out at a church in Bethlehem on Tuesday at the place where Christians believe Jesus was born.
Father Ibrahim Faltas, an official at Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity, told The Associated Press that the fire was accidentally started Tuesday when a candle ignited curtains in the church's grotto. Although the fire was quickly put out, there was reportedly some smoke damage to the walls. The grotto is believed to be the area where Jesus was born, and the church is built over the holy location.
"The curtains around the grotto caught fire from a candle and that is all that happened," Father Faltas told The Associated Press, adding "It was not arson." more >>
Pope Francis wrapped up his visit to the Middle East by making final stops in Bethlehem and Israel on Sunday and Monday, paying a special surprise visit to the Wall of Bethlehem that separates Israel from the West Bank and offering quick prayer while at the wall.
Francis reportedly stopped at the wall for four minutes, leaning his head in to touch the stone on the wall next to a graffiti message that read "Free Palestine." He also placed his hand on the wall to pray during the unexpected stop.
The wall, also known as the Israeli West Bank barrier, was built by Israel to separate itself from the West Bank and the Palestinian population. Father Federico Lombardi, a spokesperson for the Vatican, told The Guardian that even members of Francis' own entourage were unaware that the Pope would make his stop at the separation wall. more >>