Recently, Ray Comfort was a guest speaker at the Southern Baptist Youth Evangelism Conference and spoke on what is our greatest sin as a people.
An Illinois sheriff called freethinking Freedom From Religion Foundation representatives oppressors, and is vowing not to back down from their legal threats after they said the two nativity scenes erected at the local courthouse last month were unconstitutional. The sheriff just penned an excoriating letter to the activists proclaiming he will not bow to “bullies.”
The battle surfaced after one of the foundation’s attorneys sent a letter to the Jefferson County Board to complain about Sheriff Travis Allen’s decision to put the Christian scenes on display along with other holiday elements at the courthouse. The foundation is a national nonprofit whose staff and members believe in nontheism, and are dedicated to the Constitutional principle of separation of church and state.
Allen rejects the charge that the nativities are unconstitutional. “We’re not putting crosses at the courthouse. We’re not putting Bible verses up. This is a Christmas display,” Allen told WPSD-TV. “What has our country become when we can’t put a nativity scene out in celebration of Christmas because we’re worried about offending somebody That’s embarrassing!”
Allen said he added the nativities to help celebrate the Christmas spirit, noting there used to be a “big Christmas celebration” in the past and that many citizens had requested a new display be put out; so he complied, reports The Blaze.
Foundation lawyer Ryan Jayne maintains the county courthouse lawn is not the right spot to be having religious debates. Jayne told WPSD-TV, alleging in a Jan. 22 letter to local officials that Allen “promotes and endorses the Christian religious aspects of Christmas” – something the attorney said is unconstitutional.
In a Jan. 27 response letter, Allen accused the Freedom From Religion Foundation of including “half-truths” in its letter, and claimed the organization did not include photo evidence of the other non-Christian elements that were part of the holiday display.
“Your letter was full of half truths and I think we both know the court of law does not make decisions in half truths,” Allen wrote. “You did not even take a picture of the inflatable penguin, which I am sure you are also offended by.”
In his letter, he also asked the foundation about its reported 700 members in Illinois. “I would like to know how many reside in Jefferson County,” he wrote. “I am not sure I would be bragging about 700 members in a state that has almost 13 million residents. We have almost 10 times as many people on our Facebook page.”
Allen said he was the foundation attorney sent the letter to the County Board because they thought they could bully them into complying with their demands. “The thing is, in Jefferson County, we don’t really like bullies, and we are not very good at bowing down to organizations. I actually only bow to one man, but you don’t believe in him anyway,” he included in the letter.
Allen and the Freedom From Religion Foundation representatives previously clashed over the presence of “In God We Trust” on squad cars.
The recently freed Iranian-American pastor Saeed Abedini has been reunited with his children in Boise, Idaho. But the Abedini family may be in for tough times after his wife took legal action against him in court.
“Nothing has made me happier than seeing Saeed freed from his chains and in American soil,” Naghmeh Abedini posted to her 80,000 Facebook friends Wednesday (Jan. 27), while adding that she filed domestic legal papers to ensure her children stay in Boise.
Saeed was released on Jan. 16 after nearly three and a half years in prison in Iran.
In her post, Naghmeh said she regretted hiding from the public her allegations of domestic abuse. She also said that three months ago her husband threatened her with divorce.
“Saeed told me things he demanded I must do to promote him in the eyes of the public that I simply could not do any longer. He threatened that if I did not, the results would be the end of our marriage and the resulting pain this would bring to our children.”
As of yet, Saeed has not commented publicly about the case filing or his wife’s abuse allegations, which first surfaced in November. His spokesperson did not immediately respond to a reporter’s inquiry.
In his first interview since release from prison, Saeed told Fox News he was beaten during a prison interrogation and threatened with execution.
Iran sentenced Saeed to eight years in prison, but detailed charges were not made public. At the time of his arrest, Saeed was setting up a home for orphans. Previously, he was involved in creating a network of house churches, something that Iranian authorities prohibit.
On Facebook, Naghmeh said her goal was reconciliation, not divorce. “I have taken temporary legal action to make sure our children will stay in Idaho until this situation has been resolved. I love my husband, but as some might understand, there are times when love must stop enabling something that has become a growing cancer. We cannot go on the way it has been. I hope and pray our marriage can be healed.”
Her Facebook followers were largely supportive of the court action. “Saddened by the truth but the truth always sets free,” one woman posted in the comments section. The Abedinis are members of Calvary Chapel in Boise.
Through much of 2015, Naghmeh engaged in a nationwide campaign to secure her husband’s release from prison, drawing the attention of President Obama and top human rights and religious leaders.
In early January, Iran and the U.S. agreed to a “prisoner swap” that resulted in the release of Abedini, Nosratollah Khosrawi, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian and former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati. The U.S. released seven Iranians held in U.S. prisons, and so far all seven have chosen to remain in the U.S.