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Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Speak at Same Church Service. Here’s Who Quoted From the Book of Psalms.

From left: Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders (Image sources: Clinton — AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster; Sanders — AP Photo/John Minchillo)

LAS VEGAS (TheBlaze/AP) — Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are speaking from the pulpit as they campaign ahead of next weekend’s Democratic caucuses in Nevada.

From left: Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders (Image sources: Clinton — AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster; Sanders — AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The former Secretary of State and the Vermont senator both spoke at Victory Missionary Baptist Church in Las Vegas on Sunday.

Before the black congregation, Sanders praised President Barack Obama. But he also noted the economic struggles in Nevada since the recession, saying “we have made great progress, but much more needs to be done.”

He also spoke about the number of people in American prisons, saying “we cannot as a nation turn our back on the reality that we have more people in jail today” — punctuated by an “amen,” the Las Vegas Sun reported — “than any other country on Earth.”

John Lewis w Clinton at church in Vegas this morning (same one Sanders may be going to shortly) via @danmericaCNN pic.twitter.com/sKXZb9sVLt

— Liz Kreutz (@ABCLiz) February 14, 2016

Clinton — accompanied by civil rights icon, Rep. John Lewis of Georgia — opened things by quoting from Psalm 118: “This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

The congregation returned “thunderous applause,” the paper said.

Clinton told the congregation that she would “build on the progress” Obama has made. Taking a subtle shot at Sanders, Clinton said, “I am not a single-issue candidate, and this is not a single-issue country,” according to the Sun.

With the Nevada caucuses and South Carolina primary looming, Clinton has been stressing her ties to the black community, touting endorsements like the one she’s received from Lewis.

Cancer-Stricken Teen Serenades Pope Francis With Moving A Capella Version of ‘Ave Maria’

Pope Francis waves to well-wishers upon arrival from Sri Lanka, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015 at suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines. (AP/Bullit Marquez)

After kicking off his first trip to Mexico over the weekend, Pope Francis visited the Federico Gomez Pediatric Hospital in Mexico City on Sunday, where he received a surprise serenade from a cancer-stricken teenager being treated at the facility.

The pontiff is seen in a video of the encounter standing over the young woman, as he intently watches her beautifully belt out an a capella version of “Ave Maria.”

When she finishes, he smiles and bends down to give her a hug — a touching moment that has captured a fair bit of attention.

Pope Francis waves to well-wishers upon arrival from Sri Lanka, Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015 at suburban Pasay city, south of Manila, Philippines. (AP/Bullit Marquez)

The Catholic News Agency called it “one of the most emotional moments” of Pope Francis’ trip to the hospital, identifying the girl as 15-year-old Alexia Garduño. She reportedly suffers from osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer.

Watch the stunning serenade below:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9hB72qX8Bc?rel=0&w=650&h=366]

While at Federico Gomez Pediatric Hospital, the pontiff also hugged and visited with other children, even taking a moment to help give a little boy his medication.

The pontiff delivered a brief address the children and staff at the pediatric hospital, asking God to bless them and expressed hope that their “smiles grow day by day” as they seek and receive compassionate treatment.

 Pope Francis, whose birthday is today, calls  salvation a free gift that "cannot be bought." (AP Photo/Cliff Owen) Pope Francis, whose birthday is today, calls salvation a free gift that “cannot be bought.” (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

“I ask God to bless you, and to accompany you and your families, and all those people who work in this home and try to ensure that your smiles grow day by day,” he said. “May God bless each person…not only doctors but also those who provide ‘kindness-therapy’ thus making the time spent here more enjoyable.”

Pope Francis will be in Mexico until Feb. 17.

MSNBC Correspondent Accuses Cruz of Claiming He’d Ignore Key ‘Part of the Constitution.’ Watch This Pastor’s Reaction.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks to Iowa voters at the Iowa State Fairgrounds January 31, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. The U.S. presidential election kicks off tomorrow with the state's caucuses. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

MSNBC correspondent Joy Reid seemingly accused GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz of saying that “he would ignore” the separation of church and state if elected — a charge that one preacher pushed back against during a Saturday segment on the cable network.

“The separation of church and state is in fact not a myth, it’s a constitutional fact. … It’s a part of our constitutional makeup,” Reid said. “The Founding Fathers were very explicit that they did not want to have a national church.”

She continued, “So, can a candidate like Ted Cruz run on essentially saying he would ignore that part of the Constitution, if you’re saying he’s a president who would actually run on the Constitution?”

Reid’s comments were made during an interview with Pastor Mike Gonzalez, the evangelical chairman of Cruz’s campaign and the senior pastor at Columbia World Outreach Church in Columbia, South Carolina, while the two discussed how secular Americans should view Cruz.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks to Iowa voters at the Iowa State Fairgrounds January 31, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“Pastor Gonzalez, what do you say to Americans who are more secular who say what we don’t want is to have a president in the White House who is essentially using his own personal faith to run the country when the Constitution has a separation of church and state?” Reid asked.

The preacher responded by saying that he believes “this idea of the separation of church and state is a myth,” explaining that people bring their faith “into the marketplace” like they do anything else.

“Ted Cruz … will be a president not just, you know who is a preacher or pastor in the White House; that’s not the idea,” Gonzalez said. “But I believe that all people, all Americans can rally around Ted Cruz because he upholds the Constitution.”

He continued, “I believe all Americans want to truly uphold the law.”

Watch the segment below:

That’s when she pushed back, claiming that Cruz is saying he would “ignore … part of the Constitution” when it comes to religious issues. Gonzalez responded by explaining that the Constitution upholds First Amendment rights — a fact that he said Cruz reveres.

“He’s not violating that. So, the idea that he would do anything else but really follow the law and the Constitution, it’s just not true,” the pastor said. “He’s going to do that. Our faith is a vital part to our lives. But that doesn’t mean he’s in the White House preaching, you know, all of the time he’s going to be doing that while he’s president.”

Gonzalez continued, “But it’s his faith, it’s who he is. You can’t separate him. It’s like when you scramble eggs, you can’t unscramble them. That’s the reality. Our Constitution gives us our religious rights and our religious freedoms. You can’t take that away.”

(H/T: Newsbusters)

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Prolific Bible Translator Reveals Reasons He’s Endorsing ‘Intrepid Conservative’ Donald Trump

Dr. James F. Linzey endorses Donald Trump (Military Bible

Prolific Bible translator and Christian minister Dr. James F. Linzey has re-affirmed his endorsement of Donald Trump for president, calling the Republican businessman “an intrepid Conservative who unapologetically articulates and accentuates the pulse of most Americans.”

Dr. James F. Linzey endorses Donald Trump (Military Bible Association)

Linzey, a retired military chaplain, the founder of the Military Bible Association and the chief editor of the Modern English Version Bible translation, explained his support for Trump during a speech in California on Sunday.

At the heart of Linzey’s glowing support for Trump is his belief that the candidate speaks with honesty, according to a press release from the Military Bible Association that explains the endorsement.

“Donald Trump is ruthlessly honest. That means America can trust him to do what he says he will do,” he said. “The alternative is to have a president who must do what his special interest groups tell him to do during his entire term as president.”

In this case, Linzey said that the “president’s relationship with Jesus Christ would take back seat to his relationship with his special interest groups,” going on to question how some candidates are discussing Jesus and quoting scripture to win over evangelicals.

“The hype among some candidates about how ‘Jesus is Lord’ and quoting scripture to win the evangelical vote is a charade,” he said.

Linzer also cited Trump’s campaign contributions as a reason to support his candidacy.

“His campaign is not funded by special interest groups,” Linzey said. “This means he is not beholden to them, and will have the freedom to build congressional support on both sides of the aisle and promote the values that millions embrace by implementing policies to make America great again.”

Donald Trump speaks to the media before a campaign event at Hampshire Hills Athletic Club, Feb. 2, 2016. (Getty Images/Joe Raedle) Donald Trump speaks to the media before a campaign event at Hampshire Hills Athletic Club, Feb. 2, 2016. (Getty Images/Joe Raedle)

This is hardly the first time that Linzey has expressed support for Trump, first announcing his endorsement in September 2015. At the time, he told the Christian Science Monitor that he believes Trump is “the kind of person who is not going to deceive us.”

“Evangelicals are tired of being deceived by wolves in sheep’s clothing,” he said at the time, adding that he believes that the Republican Party has failed to address issues that conservatives and evangelicals care deeply about.

Prayers for Atheist Richard Dawkins After His Stroke Sparked Outrage. Now, This Reverend Is Delivering a Major Lesson for Detractors.

Professor Richard Dawkins, ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author of books including The God Delusion and The Selfish Gene, is seen at Random House, London, on Wednesday, August 14th,2013.  Professor Dawkins is to publish an autobiographical book. (Fiona Hanson/AP)

The flames of controversy were fanned when the faithful took to Twitter late last week to offer up prayers for famed evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins after he suffered a “minor stroke,” with the Church of England finding itself fielding attacks for its own simple statement.

The church, which is the worldwide head of the Anglican Communion, tweeted well-wishes for Dawkins, 74, and his family on Friday night, writing, “Prayers for Prof Dawkins and his family.”

That message apparently created such a firestorm that the Rev. Arun Arora, communications director for the Archbishop Council — one of the governing bodies of the Church of England — penned a Tumblr post responding to the controversy.

https://twitter.com/c_of_e/status/698249409663000577

“The tweet was a prayer,” he wrote. “Nothing controversial in that.”

Despite intending no ill will in sending the tweet, Arora said that a row quickly unfolded, with some claiming that the Church of England was “trolling” Dawkins over his illness. In the end, Arora said that the reactions made it apparent that there is profound confusion prayer.

“What is clear in some of the responses is a misunderstanding of what prayer is, who does it and who it is for,” he wrote, going on to offer up a lesson about the power of invocations.

“Prayer is for everyone,” Arora wrote. “Some of the twitter reaction assumed that Christians only pray for other Christians. In fact Christians pray for all kinds of people. They pray for their friends and families. They pray for their community.”

Professor Richard Dawkins, ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author of books including The God Delusion and The Selfish Gene, is seen at Random House, London, on Wednesday, August 14th,2013. (Fiona Hanson/AP)

He continued, “They pray for the Government (of whatever persuasion). They pray for terrorists, kidnappers, hostage takers. They pray for criminals as well as giving thanks for saints. Poets write poetry, musicians play music, Christians pray. And they love.”

Arora went on to cite Jesus’ words in Matthew 5 that call on Christians to love their enemies and pray even for those who persecute them, concluding the post by saying that he will pray for Dawkins and that other Christians should as well.

As for Dawkins, the biologist, who is recovering at home in the U.K., released a recording on Saturday that detailed his stroke as well as his recovery. Listen to his explanation of what unfolded below:

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/246865010" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height='450' iframe="true" /]

“I’ve been having chronic blood pressure problems for a while … the doctors asked me whether I’d been suffering from stress and I had to say, ‘Yes I had,'” Dawkins said. “They keep advising me not to get involved in controversy and I’m afraid I had to tell them that not getting involved in controversies is one of those things I’m not particularly talented at.”

(H/T: Huffington Post)

Google Searches Reveal the Top Items Americans Are Giving Up for Lent

Image source: Time.com

A map of the United States created using data aggregated by Google shows what Christians across the country have decided to give up for Lent this year, which began Wednesday and will last the six weeks until Easter Sunday.

Image source: Time.com

Google compiled the data used in the charts by sifting through users’ search engines for entries containing the terms “Lent” and “give up,” according to Time. The resulting list reflects the top-searched items represented from users in each state.

Food items proved to be the most popular items that Christians and other Lent-observers have decided to sacrifice for the six-week period, the Daily Mail noted. Items such as dairy, meat, sweets, sugar, and chocolate were the most popular options, with eight states opting to give up eating meat during Lent and five states choosing to sacrifice eating chocolate. Alcohol was given up in seven states, and two states relinquished coffee during Lent

Image source: Time.com

Four states decided stay off certain social media platforms during Lent. Georgia and Tennessee gave up all social media websites entirely, while Oregon gave up Facebook and Massachusetts abandoned Instagram, Time reported. Five states decided to sacrifice engaging in sexual activities during the Lenten season, including California, Alabama, New Hampshire, Colorado and Louisiana, whereas Washington state decided to give up dating. Other states’ Lent sacrifices included makeup in Kansas, Netflix streaming in Idaho, administering self-criticism in Virginia and feeling fear in Oklahoma.

Follow Kathryn Blackhurst (@kablackhurst) on Twitter

Photo of Israeli Soldier Balancing His Gun as He Soothes His Baby Is Getting A Lot of Attention

The editor of the Humans of Jerusalem Facebook page says he’s been flooded with attention and positive feedback after posting a photo he took of a religious Israeli soldier soothing his baby in a sling even as was balancing his military-issue rifle on his leg.

Some stories don’t need words.All rights reserved to Simcha Jessel and Humans of Jerusalem

Posted by Humans of Jerusalem on Thursday, February 11, 2016

Simcha Jessel, the photographer and citizen journalist who posts images of different slices of life in the Israeli capital city, told TheBlaze that he took the photo of the soldier last week near a pizza shop in downtown Jerusalem.

“I was finishing my pie, and I saw him there,” Jessel said. “I came over and said, ‘I love everything going on over here. Can I please take a picture of you?’ He said, ‘Sure!’”

Jessel said that the redheaded soldier, whom he identified only as Nathan, was holding the baby while his wife had stepped away for a bit. The baby girl is named Gal Einai, which translates loosely to “open my eyes” or “reveal to my eyes.”

Nathan is currently serving in the Israel Defense Forces with a religious battalion called “Netzach Yehuda” which means “Eternity of Judah.”

Outside of his military service, he enjoys playing guitar — as indicated by the guitar case visible in the photo.

“He’s also a wicked drummer,” Jessel said.

The family lives in a Jewish community in Judea called Bat Ayin.

Jessel, 22, said that he just completed his mandatory service in the IDF, and now he walks around Jerusalem to “talk to people and capture their story alongside a picture.”

The photographer explained that unlike in the U.S. military, in Israel combat soldiers often come home a few times a month “and when you’re married with children, you get to go home even more often.”

Check out more of Jessel’s work from the Holy Land at this link.

Pat Robertson: Women Entering Combat Zones Is ‘Masochistic,’ ’50 Shades of Grey Squared’

Pat Robertson and Wendy Griffith discuss women in combat on the 700 Club Feb. 11. (Image source: CBN News screenshot)

Televangelist Pat Robertson, known for his off-the-wall, brash commentary, has opined once more. And this time, it is about women joining the military and training for combat positions.

The “700 Club” anchor responded Thursday to a conversation taking place across the U.S. about women’s place in the military. Though Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced months ago that women can join the military in combat roles, a debate about whether or not they should be included in the draft has recently sprung up.

Pat Robertson and Wendy Griffith discuss women in combat on the 700 Club Feb. 11. (Image source: CBN News screenshot)

According to Robertson, 85, women should neither be drafted nor in combat positions. And, by his estimation, feminists are to blame for the recent discussion about including women in the military draft.

“The feminists have gotten to a point where women are going to be drafted and put into combat units. Why would any woman in her right mind want that?” Robertson asked show co-anchor Wendy Griffith.

Griffith, seeming to take a more tempered tone, suggested to Robertson that “there are women warriors,” later adding, “I’m not a good candidate, but I think there are some women that feel that call.”

But Robertson wasn’t buying it. He simply said the idea of women in combat zones is “crazy.”

“A lot of these women are going to wake up and say, ‘Our feminist sisters haven’t done us any favors.’ I mean going into primary training and boot training in the infantry is tough, it is hard duty,” Robertson said. “Why would anybody want that?”

The conversation went downhill from there. Ultimately, Robertson said women’s desire to be in combat zones might be the result of a “masochistic,” “bondage” desire.

“Maybe it’s a masochistic thing, you know, they want. That’s, that’s, uh, that’s bondage. That’s, that’s, that’s ’50 Shades of Grey’ squared,” Robertson concluded.

Watch the exchange:
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BoEtS-fUli4&w=650&h=366]

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‘I Should Have Been Dead’: Famed Christian Singer Reveals How ‘Crazy Drug Phase’ Nearly Killed Him

Michael W. Smith/Cracker Barrel

Famed Christian singer Michael W. Smith recently appeared on The Church Boys podcast to discuss his new album, “Hymns II: Shine on Us” and to share some of the details of his personal faith journey.

Smith, who said that he became a Christian when he was just 10 years old, recalled the moment that he first understood the gospel message.

“I remember sitting with all my friends and just something happened. It was like an epiphany,” the singer said. “A light bulb went off. Jesus really is who he said he was.”

But that faith journey later briefly derailed, with Smith falling back into what he called a “crazy drug phase” — a four-year period in the late 1970s during which he said that he almost lost his life.

“I lost my way,” he said. “Still, to this day, I can’t believe I did that for four years and got deceived and almost died a couple of times.”

Smith continued, “I should have been dead.”

Listen to Smith discuss his story at the 30:00 mark below:

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/245675705" params="auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true" width="100%" height='450' iframe="true" /]

Subscribe to The Church Boys on iTunes

But he said that November of 1979 brought with it immense change that helped him to turn a corner, crediting his parents for praying and standing with him throughout the ordeal.

“I felt like the God of the universe just came down and laid on the floor with me,” he said. “I knew I was going to lose my life if something didn’t change. I was stuck.”

Learn more about Smith’s personal story here.

Smith, who has been a fixture in the Christian music industry for the past 33 years, also discussed the immense success that he has had in his career, while delving into some crazy fan stories.

Michael W. Smith/Cracker Barrel

“I remember the girl who just — God told her that we’re supposed to be married, and I’m going, ‘I’m already married. I’m not sure that we serve the same God here,'” he said, expressing his shock. “Stuff like that.”

He said that more recently, he and singer Amy Grant have toured together and he’s seen messages on social media saying, “They look so good. They would make a great couple” — sentiments that have shocked him, considering that both Grant and Smith are married.

Smith’s new album, “Hymns II: Shine on Us,” is exclusively available through Cracker Barrel.

Amid Overwhelming Grief, Parents Find a Message From Their Daughter — It Was Written One Day Before She Died

Lesly De Luna, 12. (Image source: CBSDFW-TV)

A family grieving after a tragic car crash killed their two children last weekend recently made an astonishing discovery: A beautiful essayed penned by 12-year-old Lesly De Luna one day before her death.

It has been a source of great comfort to her heartbroken relatives.

“You should never give up,” read the 12-year-old’s essay, “…you should always keep going.”

Lesly De Luna, 12. (Image source: CBSDFW-TV)

Now, De Luna’s parents are clinging to the wisdom of their daughter’s last written words.

Her father, Edgard De Luna discovered the essay at the bedside of his eldest child, according to CBSDFW-TV.

Lesly penned her essay inside a classroom at her Whitesboro, Texas school on Friday — just one day before the deadly crash that killed her and her 7-year-old brother Edgar.

A vehicle slammed into the back of the family’s minivan in Denton on February 6. Their youngest child, Carlito is still alive but remains on life support, CBSDFW-TV reported.

The children’s father has requested that those who hear their story pray for his family.

“I want as many prayers as I can have, as many prayers you can do, just keep praying,” Edgar De Luna told CBSDFW-TV.

Lesly’s essay was part of a practice STARR test, a state standardized reading and writing exam.

With insight and sensitivity that surpasses many seventh graders, Lesly wrote about the sacrifices her family made after her grandmother died and that: “People go through hard times, sometimes, they end up hurt, either physically or emotionally, but they should always stay strong.”

The bold advice proved astonishingly timely for her grieving relatives, a coincidence that Edgar De Luna believes was divinely orchestrated.

De Luna told CBS DFW that faith and his daughter’s uplifting words are all that are keeping him from spiraling into complete despair.

“It doesn’t matter what religion you are… doesn’t matter what you believe,” he said. “Just pray just pray for me, for my wife or my son, especially my son.”

Watch:


(H/T: CBSDFW-TV)