The Baptist church in Georgia that produced evangelical-themed films like Fireproof and Courageous received thousands of people for its annual Independence Day celebration. Sherwood Baptist Church of Albany, Ga., held its eighth annual “Freedom Fest” on Sunday, July 1 at its Sports Park and had an estimated 5,000 attendees. “This Southwest Georgia community event takes place during the week of July 4th and is an American celebration of patriotism, freedom, and our national heritage,” reads an info sheet on the event. “We desire to celebrate the founding of our great country in a fun environment that is safe for the whole family. . . . We also desire to honor our military on this day.” Kenneth Bevel, the coordinator for Freedom Fest, told The Christian Post that over 600 volunteers helped out for the free-to-the-public event. The outdoor summer event featured many classic diversions, such as inflatable games for kids, horse rides, rock climbing, live music, a Wild West show, food, and fishing, and culminated with a fireworks show in the evening. The church also had an evangelical outreach present as well. Held at a park owned by Sherwood Baptist, the “Freedom Fest” has been known to draw large numbers of attendees every year. In 2010, an estimated 25,000 people went out to the festival. Bevel told CP that they “expected 10,000” this year, but they got about half that number “because of the extreme heat.”

Other news:

  • Alliance Defense Fund has issued a legal memo in support of an Illinois school district that elected to discontinue using pro-homosexual materials in its elementary schools, reports onenewsnow.com. Attorney Jeremy Tedesco says the Erie Community Unit School District voted 5-2 to stop using pro-homosexual curricula from the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network after several parents voiced concerns about the content of “Ready, Set, Respect!” The “toolkit,” according to Citizen Link, encourages teachers to invite students as young as kindergarten age to “draw pictures of favorite TV or storybook characters and dress them in clothes that are different . . . from what they would typically wear,” such as “Cinderella in a knight’s armor” or “Spiderman wearing a magic tiara.” It also suggests that teachers incorporate examples of homosexual relationships into classroom activities, such as writing math problems to include “a variety of family structures and gender-expressions.” Parents felt the material raised issues of religious freedom and parental rights. Tedesco is proud of the district for taking a stand. “Public schools should not be coerced by outside groups into indoctrinating students into homosexual behavior by exposing them to inappropriate sexual materials,” the attorney asserts. “Schools are supposed to be places of learning, not places where schools push propaganda on students.” In reaction to the ban, GLSEN began a derogatory national campaign against the school, which included false accusations. But ADF applauds school officials for not giving in to the intimidation. “The school is right under these circumstances to prohibit access to the GLSEN materials and not cave to the ACLU’s demands,” Tedesco says. Erie Community Superintendent Bradley Cox says, “Teaching diversity, tolerance, and anti-bullying to elementary schools was always done before without using GLSEN materials.” The use of GLSEN’s material has now been limited to grades 6–12 in the district—a move that the Network deems “puzzling and deeply counter-productive.”
  • Supporters of a California initiative are urging registered state voters to do their part to protect their children from LGBT indoctrination in state public schools, reports onenewsnow.com. Proponents have until July 8 to collect signatures to qualify a bill that would invalidate SB 48, the California law that mandates the teachings of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender contributions in state public schools. The CLASS Act would ensure that children are not taught an agenda, but are instructed only in accurate social sciences.
  • Chick-fil-A, the fast-food chicken restaurant chain known for its commitment to employing Biblical beliefs in its business practices, is once again under attack by homosexual activists for its support of pro-traditional marriage organizations. The most recent attacks come from an analysis by homosexual activists claiming that the company, primarily through the WinShape Foundation, has donated over a million dollars to organizations that promote family and Christian values such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes ($480,000), Family Research Council ($1,000), the Marriage and Family Foundation ($1,188,380) and Exodus International ($1,000). The restaurant chain started by Truett Cathy and his wife over 66 years ago is now one of the nation’s fasting growing fast food enterprises in spite of being closed on Sundays, a move that brings continued criticism from atheists and secular organizations. Peter Sprigg, vice president for the Family Research Council, says their group makes it a practice not to comment on the individuals or corporations who give money to them, but it appears much of the criticism throw at Chick-fil-A has to do with their donations to marriage enrichment programs. “Chick-fil-A has given money to groups that support and strengthen marriage between men and women,” Sprigg told The Christian Post. “I would hardly say that is anti anything. The company boldly states they were founded on Christian principles and marriage is one of the most basic of Christian tenets and is the foundation of the family. I can’t see why anyone would object to that.” What confuses pro-family groups such as the Family Research Council the most is why they are labeled a “hate” group by liberal watchdogs such as the Southern Poverty Law Center simply because they subscribe to and believe in biblical principles. “My question would be when someone gives money to an organization that promotes the homosexual lifestyle, does that mean they hate Christians? I certainly hope not,” Pastor David Baker told The Christian Post. “To my knowledge, I’ve never seen a group that advocates and truly believes in Christian principles say they hate anyone. I think that would apply to Chick-fil-A and the local business owner who happens to be a Christian.” Although the company rarely responds to inquiries about its corporate donations, Chick-fil-A President and COO Dan Cathy released a statement in 2011 denying that Chick-fil-A had an agenda against any group or organization but would “continue to offer resources to strengthen marriage and families.”
  • Actor Andy Griffith’s widow says her husband was “a person of incredibly strong Christian faith and was prepared for the day he would be called Home to his Lord,” reports 10TV.com. The beloved star of The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock died Tuesday at his home in North Carolina at the age of 86. In a statement, Cindi Griffith said she can’t imagine life without her husband, but takes “comfort and strength in God’s Grace and in the knowledge that Andy is at peace and with God.” As a child, Griffith sang and played trombone in Mount Airy’s Grace Moravian Church. He studied at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and for a time contemplated a career in the ministry. In 1997, Griffith won a Grammy Award for his album of gospel music I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns.
  • Several human rights advocacy groups based in New Zealand condemned the latest killing of a Dutch community worker in Angeles City, reports philstar.com. The Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa, Auckland Philippines Solidarity, and Wellington Kiwi Pinoy said they are outraged by the murder of Dutch Willem Geertman, a 67-year-old community worker. “Now with two killings of European nationals under Aquino, the government’s failure to stop impunity is turning the Philippines into one of the most dangerous places for foreign missionaries,” the groups said, referring also to the killing of 59-year old Italian missionary Fr. Fausto “Pops” Tentorio in Mindanao more than a year ago. PSNA secretary Murray Horton said the President Benigno Aquino III’s administration has failed to protect and secure foreigners who serve the indigents in the Philippines. “It’s not fun when foreign nationals serving amongst poor and deprived sectors in the Philippines are also targeted by armed forces that operate in defense of the interests of government, mining, big business and landlords instead of the protection of the rights of the poor,” Horton said. APS spokesperson Cameron Walker said their group will lead a protest action this weekend in one of the landmarks in Auckland, New Zealand, to call for justice and an end to impunity in the Philippines.
  • The first openly homosexual bishop in The Episcopal Church praised pro-gay Presbyterians for creating “enormous confusion” and what he called “holy chaos” in their denomination over homosexuality, reports The Christian Post. “It was not that many years ago when our churches, yours and mine and most others, were absolutely certain what God thought of us . . . and because of your courageous work, there are a lot of confused people out there and that is a huge step forward,” Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire said Saturday during an event sponsored by More Light Presbyterians, a pro-LGBT group. Robinson looked to commend and further encourage gays and lesbians as they face several measures on homosexuality during the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s General Assembly in Pittsburgh. The denomination is considering a proposal to reverse a 2010 decision that allowed partnered gay clergy to serve and another measure that would redefine marriage. Votes were expected to take place late this week. During his half-hour talk, Robinson, who was consecrated in 2003, cited several passages in Scripture to defend homosexuality. “Let’s take the Bible back from those who have taken it hostage,” he told the LGBT crowd. “You know, those are our Scriptures too.” But Parker T. Williamson believes Robinson is twisting Scripture to show that God is okay with homosexuality. In a commentary on The Layman Online, Williamson argued that the Episcopal bishop is filtering Scripture “through a GLBT entitlement lens.”
  • The federal agency that strikes fear into many U.S. taxpayers is getting a dose of its own medicine, as it is now the focus of a yearlong audit for allowing illegal aliens to scam the system and bilk taxpayers out of billions of dollars every year, reports WorldNetDaily. Federal employees are blowing the whistle on the Internal Revenue Service, according to a report by Indianapolis television station WTHR-TV.
  • Kenya police say gunmen attacked two churches in the eastern town of Garissa on Sunday, killing 17 people and wounding at least 40, reports voanews.com. Authorities say in both cases the attackers hurled grenades and opened fire on worshipers. The deadliest attack took place at the African Inland Church, where at least 10 people were killed, including two police officers. The second attack took place at a Catholic church. Police did not immediately say who was behind the violence. They have blamed similar attacks on sympathizers of the Somalia-based militant group al-Shabab. In Nigeria, reports Reuters, at least 92 people were killed in the tit-for-tat attacks between Muslims and Christians in Kaduna last week, sparked by suicide bombings at three churches last Sunday that killed 19 people and were blamed on Islamist sect Boko Haram.
  • The abortion practitioner who brandished a gun when heading to do abortions at the Charleston Women’s Medical Center abortion facility in West Ashley, S.C., in October is getting a reduced sentence, reports lifenews.com. Leading pro-life advocates are not happy with the decision. Gary Boyle, 62, of Blountville, Tenn., does abortions at the facility near Charleston, S.C. Apparently upset at the fact that local pro-life advocates had been participating in the national 40 Days for Life campaign, Boyle met their peaceful presence by pulling a gun. Boyle drove his silver Lexus vehicle into the parking lot and he allegedly approached the pro-life advocates, including a 17-year-old boy, and produced a black handgun loaded with 15 rounds. As Boyle, who also runs the Bristol Regional Women’s Center abortion facility in Tennessee, made his way to the abortion business, 50-year-old pro-life resident John Karafa called 911. Police arrested Boyle and charged him with pointing a firearm. In court, police detectives said Broyle, during an interview with police officials, admitted to having a weapon but claimed he pointed it at the ceiling of his SUV and not at any of the pro-life advocates. Boyle told officers he was worried for his life even though pro-life advocates did not threaten him in any way and claimed three pro-life people approached his vehicle. The people at the abortion center that day dispute that claim. Boyle is officially charged with presenting a firearm, a felony that could have seen him face as many as five years in prison if convicted and sentenced to the maximum term. However, Scarlett Wilson, South Carolina’s Solicitor for its Ninth Judicial Circuit, announced that the charges would be reduced to a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of $100 or a 30-day jail sentence, a step likely to culminate in a sentence amounting to what pro-lifers say is a mere inconvenience for cash-rich abortion practitioner. 40 Days for Life, an international pro-life ministry outreach, and Thomas More Society, a Chicago-based Public Interest Law Firm, have registered a strong protest with Wilson’s office. “We are outraged at this latest evidence of a double standard applied by too many prosecutors—federal, state, and local—when it comes to charging abortion proponents with serious crimes against pro-life advocates,” said Shawn Carney, campaign director of 40 Days for Life. “How different would Judge Wilson’s charge be if the roles had been reversed? Threat of violence is threat of violence—and should always be treated as a serious crime. Dr. Boyle should be fully punished for his reckless and despicable actions.”
  • Maryland pregnancy centers that had been fighting laws in Baltimore and Montgomery County, forcing pregnancy resource centers to post signs discouraging women from using their services, won a huge victory in court last week, reports lifenews.com. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit affirmed Wednesday that such laws are unconstitutional. Alliance Defense Fund attorneys represent a pregnancy resource center in the Montgomery County case and filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case involving the Baltimore law. “Pregnancy centers offer real help and hope to women. They should be free to share that message instead of being compelled to provide the government’s preferred message, which sends women elsewhere,” said ADF Legal Counsel Matt Bowman. “Pregnancy centers provide women with the emotional support and practical resources they need, giving them more choices. They should not be made to speak negatively about the important services they provide. The 4th Circuit was right to rule against that in both of these cases.”
  • An evangelical professor is calling for the resignation or removal of Alan Chambers as president of Exodus International, citing concerns that Chambers is offering a false hope to gays and lesbians and compromising the ministry’s mission, reports The Christian Post. Robert A. J. Gagnon, associate professor of New Testament at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, believes the Exodus head is deceiving active homosexuals by stating that their salvation is assured. “Alan’s approach of providing assurances of salvation to those actively engaged in sexually immoral intercourse is a very different approach than Jesus’ and Paul’s warnings that immoral sexual behavior, among other offenses, can get one excluded from the kingdom of God and thrown into hell,” Gagnon wrote in a 35-page article, posted last week. Gagnon, who holds degrees from Dartmouth, Harvard Divinity, and the Princeton Theological Seminary and who comments regularly on the issue of homosexuality, respects the ministry of Exodus. Since 1976, it has grown to be the largest organization of its kind, equipping churches to address homosexuality and helping individuals struggling with same-sex attraction pursue a life based on their relationship with Christ. The New Testament professor not only considers Exodus a “light for the world” but he also appreciates Chambers’ life testimony in resisting same-sex attractions and his belief that homosexual practice is sinful. But over the last year and a half, Chambers has been making statements that raised red flags, in Gagnon’s view.
  • If Barack Obama has an immediate eligibility problem, it is more likely to derive from the Social Security Number he has been using for the last 25 years than from his birth certificate, according to conservativebyte.com. Ohio private investigator Susan Daniels has seen to that. On Monday, July 2, she filed suit in Geauga County (Ohio) Common Pleas Court demanding that Jon Husted, Ohio secretary of state, remove Obama’s name from the ballot until Obama can prove the validity of his Social Security Number. Daniels, who has vetted thousands of Social Security Numbers for numerous other clients, has “done her homework.” In her filing, she thoroughly documents her contention “that Barack Obama has repeatedly, consistently, and with intent misrepresented himself by using a fraudulently obtained Social Security Number.” Conservativebyte.com also reports that Donald Trump is again predicting President Obama will start a war with Iran solely to help his chances of getting re-elected this November. The billionaire developer made his forecast both on the Internet and television Tuesday, initially tweeting, “Just as I predicted, Barack Obama is preparing a possible attack on Iran right before November.” He then spoke via phone to Greta Van Susteren of Fox News, confirming, “Yes, I believe that we will end up in a war with Iran because I think Obama views that as politically good for him. . . . I have said for a year and a half that in the end, somewhere before the election we will end up in a form of war with Iran, and I think he’s doing it for political reasons.”
  • Less than one week after the House voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) is demanding additional information from the Justice Department regarding the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-tracking operation, reports thehill.com. On Tuesday, Grassley, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary committee, sent a letter to Holder questioning who within the Justice Department knew of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives memorandum reportedly circulated one day prior to the DOJ denying allegations of sanctioned “gunwalking” to lawmakers. “I believe the Department should have been abundantly aware of allegations of gunwalking as there was more than one ATF agent providing information to Department components before the February 4, 2011, letter was sent to Congress,” he wrote.
  • Soil moisture ratings show extreme dryness leading to crop stress in the southern two-thirds of the Cornbelt, reports cattlenetwork.com. More moist conditions are found in the Dakotas across Minnesota and the northern regions of Wisconsin and Michigan. Below the Great Lakes, soil moisture is nearly absent and crop ratings are showing rapid deterioration from week to week. In the past week, as USDA dropped the corn crop from 56 percent in good to excellent condition to 48 percent good to excellent. The amount of corn that is now considered in poor to very poor condition increased from 14 percent last week to 22 percent this week nationally. One month ago, the rating was 72 percent good to excellent and only 5 percent in the poor to very poor category. The downhill slide is gaining momentum from the Cornbelt blast furnace.