Author Archives: grelanmuse

Round: Don’t be a part of the blame game

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By Carol Round
Special to Inside The Pew

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”—Galatians 6:2 (NIV).

Anger.  Disbelief.  Grief.  Finger pointing. All responses to the Feb. 14 shooting rampage at a Florida high school. Some reports say it’s the 18thfl-florida-school-shooting-peter-wang-obit-20180215 incident of gunfire at a school campus since the beginning of 2018. Regardless of the numbers, this week’s column is meant to convict our hearts, including mine.

At this writing, 17 were killed in the rampage and another 13 were injured. Questions abound. Responses reported in and by the media, both traditional and socially, call for more gun control, more assistance for the mentally disturbed, and higher levels of school security.

For 30 years, I was a public educator. Beginning my career in 1975, I was naïve enough to believe I could make a difference in all of my students’ lives. Years later, I had a reality check. I couldn’t save everyone; I couldn’t meet every need. Still, I knew I should and could do what I could.

A 19-year-old has confessed to the most recent shooting rampage. News reports paint a picture of a disturbed young man. One of his former teachers said he was a quiet student, a loner. The students familiar with Nikolas Cruz were not surprised by his actions. His attorney has called him a “broken human being.”

Christian author and speaker Elisabeth Elliot said, “We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive his poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others.”

In an article by Sam Harris, written after the Newtown, Conn., shootings, he says, “There’s a way to stop mass shootings, and you won’t like it. That’s right. You’re not going to like it because it’s going to require you to do something personally, as opposed to shouting for the government, or anyone to ‘do something.’”

Harris’ solution? “Notice those around you who seem isolated and engage them.”

He adds, “If every one of us did this we’d have a culture that was deeply committed to ensuring no one was left lonely. And make no mistake, as I’ve written before, loneliness is what causes these shooters to lash out. People with solid connections to other people don’t indiscriminately fire guns at strangers.”

But that requires effort on our part. Notice the strange kid sitting by himself at lunch. Invite him to eat with you. What about the awkward guy at work who doesn’t fit in? Ask him about his weekend.

As parents, we also have a responsibility to teach our children to do the same, to make sure no one feels isolated. As Harris says, “That’s the breeding ground. That’s where the seeds are planted.”

We can all plant seeds—seeds of kindness. We may take for granted our own circle of connections—family, healthy friendships—but we must not assume everyone has that connection.

Don’t be part of the blame game. Be a part of the solution.

Check out for more inspiration and information about Carol’s books and speaking ministry.

Photo: Peter Wang, one of 17 victims killed during the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Feb. 14. According to the Sun-Sentinel, Wang was seen holding door open for others during shooting. (Sun-Sentinel).

Owens: Black pastors feel betrayed by black politicians

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Special to Inside The Pew

“Our Black politicians did it to us again,” the Rev. William Owens, the president of the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP), said passionatelycoalition-of-african-american-pastors during a press conference Feb. 13 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. He was referencing what he and 20 other national black leaders felt was the worst representation by the Congressional Black Caucus demonstrated during the televised State of the Union Address.

The tone set by the caucus angered numerous national black leaders, prompting many groups to convene in Washington, D.C. to address what they considered was a severe misrepresentation and a disservice to the achievements of blacks in this country.

Owens joined by over 20 national leaders such as Stephen Broden: Senior Pastor Fair Park Bible Fellowship, President Protect Life and Marriage; Dr. Alveda King (Civil Rights For The UnBorn); Bishop Leon Benjamin (Coalition Of Leaders United); Shirley Husar (CEO Urban Game Changers); the Rev. Dean Nelson (Frederick Douglas Foundation); the Rev. Derek McCoy (Urban Cure); Dr. Randy Short (International Human Rights Association For American Minorities); Dr. Johnny Hunter (Life Education and Resource Network); Jonathan Alexander (Liberty Counsel Action); Suzzanne Monk (Political Pundit from Chicago); Johnny Rice for Congress (D.C.); and Kenneth McClenton (President of Exceptional Conservative Show) joined forces to expressed their disappointment and mismanagement of the People’s power entrusted to the Congressional Black Caucus.

“The disgrace before the global community by the CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) during the State of the Union Address was the worst I have ever witnessed in my life as a black father, educator, civil rights activist, and man of faith. Our elected officials’ demonstration of childish behavior; sulking in their seats, texting, pretending to be disinterested, was distasteful. We did not elect children, we thought we had leaders,” Owens said.

Collectively the leaders called to question what they characterized as “foul demeanor” and demanded either the caucus start “REPRESENTING or GO AWAY.” Also, CAAP launched an online petition “CROSSROAD” that will be hand-delivered to black caucus members’ offices to demonstrate the will of the people. Individuals are encouraged to sign by visiting

In addition, the multifaceted group rolled out its new 2018 Black Agenda to counter the fallout among younger blacks who have lost interest in political engagement in hopes of inspiring civic engagement. To attract a younger demographic, the group is utilizing social media platforms to promote the hashtag #representorgoaway. Many of the speakers at the press conference extensively expounded on what numerous officials don’t want known about the current effectiveness of the caucus.

Owens and others indicated, “What began 46 years ago in March 1971 has morphed into the greatest breach of trust in the black community since Reconstruction. Our precious black children are not on the minds of the Congressional Black Caucus, they care more about the rights of undocumented immigrants and football players who don’t stand for the National Anthem than they do about our families and precious children.”

Various group leaders made strong pleas to the black community to embrace this position with openness and to hear the total message citing, “We, meaning Black Americans, have been sidelined by traitors in Washington.”

Owens also mentioned that last year his media relations office contacted Congressman John Lewis, the Rev. Al Sharpton (who purports himself as a civil rights advocate for the voiceless), and Attorney General Jeff Session pertaining to the documented research conducted by Yale University researchers published in USA Today in 2016. The article detailed racial bias and poor treatment of preschool-age black children, with special emphasis on black boys. CAAP requested several meetings to initiate a national dialogue, but was met with resistance.

“Not one elected official or civil rights leader has responded to date or called for an inquiry. This is a shame. If our children are not protected at this tender age, what kind of future will exist for them when lawmakers don’t care enough to take up the just cause to fight and utilize the power of their office? My office sent copies of the Yale research to many and to this very day, no serving black politician in Washington, black news reporters (and we reached out to many) and sadly, even the black clergy, have responded. This is really tragic,” Owens said.

Unfortunately, this issue is very personal to Owens and his wife, Dr. Deborah Owens, whose then 4-year old son experienced racial discrimination in his preschool. The Owens’s, after documenting many instances which they cited were deeply troubling, immediately removed their son after school officials failed to correct the problems in a timely manner.

Owens said he thought his son’s troubles at his preschool were isolated until he discovered the article published in USA Today in 2016 written by Yale University Researchers citing this was a national problem. He also said it was alarming to read that black teachers were worse than whites.

To date, over 50 online groups have attached their support to this cause. Join the conversation and sign the CROSSROAD petition. Visit

Top: Coalition of African American Pastors logo.

Inside: Members of the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP) at a recent press conference.


American evangelist Billy Graham dies at 99

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By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST News Service

MONTREAT, N.C. – American evangelist Billy Graham – a confidant to presidents, a guiding light to generations of American Christians and a world-billy-graham-preachingtraveling preacher who saw millions give their lives to Christ, died Feb. 21, at the age of 99.

Graham, who was known as “America’s Pastor,” passed away at his home in Montreat, N.C.

“The skinny preacher with the booming voice evangelized to nearly 215 million people over six decades and prayed with US presidents from Harry Truman to Barack Obama,” said CNN. “Several presidents, including Lyndon Johnson, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, relied closely on his spiritual counsel.”

He was the reason I got into journalism

But on a personal side, it was 50 years ago in London, England, when I got my first job in journalism. It was with The Christian, an historic British newspaper that the Graham Association had bought and modernized.

I’ll never forget my first day in their Camden Town, London, office, when the editor, Dr. J.D. Douglas, welcomed me on board the paper, and then told me that my first interview would be with Coretta Scott-King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was to speak at St. Paul’s Cathedral at his Memorial Service.

It certainly was an amazing way to start my career in journalism, but sadly, after a year there, the paper was shut down by the BGEA for so-called “financial reasons” and we were all out on the streets. I was married with two sons to support, so it was quite a shock.

Fortunately, I soon secured another position on a local newspaper in London, and not long after the closure of The Christian, I was reporting on an event in the West End of London, where Billy Graham was to speak to the stars of many of the big shows in Theatre-land there.

When he arrived, Mr. Graham went around the room introducing himself, and when he got to me, the 6 foot 3 inch evangelist said, “Hi, I’m Billydan-wooding-billy-graham Graham. What is your name?” Without thinking, I said, “Mr. Graham, my name is Dan Wooding. You may remember that you fired me a few weeks ago.” There was an embarrassed look on Billy Graham’s face, as he tried to explain that it wasn’t his decision to close the paper, but that of his board.

After that I finished up working in the British tabloids, and I never thought I would every work for Billy Graham again, especially during a period when I had lost my confidence as a journalist, feeling that God couldn’t really use a former tabloid-journalist.

Norma, my wife, and I had moved to Southern California with our two sons, Andrew and Peter, from the UK ten years earlier, and we had eventually launched ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times), as a ministry to help persecuted Christians around the world.

As ASSIST began to grow, I had decided to just concentrate on running the ministry. After all, wasn’t that more spiritual than being a journalist?

Or so I thought at the time!

But it all changed when I received a phone call from A. Larry Ross, who was then Billy Graham’s press officer, in which he said, “Dan, you know that Mr. Graham has been going to Russia for years now.”

“Yes, and we are running a pen pal ministry with new believers there,” I cut in, thinking that he wanted to know more about our Bridge of Friendship Russia program.

Larry said politely that he thought that was “very interesting” and then added, “Mr. Graham has been invited to Moscow to hold a crusade there. It will be the first time that he can openly invite people to receive Christ.”

He paused for a moment, and then said, “We’d like you to come and join our media team and use your journalistic skills to report on this historic dan-wooding-bill-ruth-grahamMission to Moscow.”

I felt all the air being sucked out of my lungs when he then added, “We feel your tabloid skills could be used to portray what is going to happen there. When could you get on a plane to Moscow?”

I stammered my thanks and said that I would be honored to go and so he said arrangements would be made for my air ticket and visa and he would like me there “as soon as possible.”

When I put the receiver down, Norma looked at me in a strange way.

“What’s up?” she asked. “You have gone as white as milk.”

“Larry Ross wants me to fly to Moscow to join his media team and use my journalistic skills,” I said, trying to take in what was being asked of me.

I also recalled how, sometime after I had moved to America, someone I was working with had told me that I really “couldn’t write” and I believed that. I had figured that my tabloid past had been a complete waste of time, and could not be used by the Lord.

Norma smiled and said pointedly, “It’s a good thing that Billy Graham doesn’t know that you ‘can’t write.’” I smiled weakly in response.

Within a few days, the tickets and the visa had come through and I drove to Los Angeles International Airport to fly to Moscow, via Frankfurt, Germany.

After checking into the President Hotel, a formerly secret place that had been built for communist leaders visiting Moscow like North Korea’s Kim Il-sung, I went to bed to get a good night’s sleep and prepared for an exciting three weeks.

It was amazing as Billy Graham’s historic Moscow crusade, held in October 1992 in the indoor Olympic Stadium which, twelve years earlier, had been the site of the Moscow Olympic Games that the United States had boycotted, was quite incredible.

I spent three wonderful weeks meeting with Billy Graham along with Larry Ross, and worked on the various news releases that went out around the world, the first of was called, “A Miracle in Moscow.”

And it sure was that. What a crusade it was to report on! Each night eager Muscovites filled the 38,000-seat stadium to hear Billy. On the first evening inquirers coming forward signed 10,641 cards of commitment; on the second evening 12,628 signed. On the closing Sunday afternoon 50,000 persons had jammed into the stadium, and apparently the fire authority didn’t limit them. Another 30,000 stood outside in the freezing cold where a huge television screen with audio echoed what was happening inside. The number of decision cards signed was 19,417.

A highlight was being able to film the Red Army Choir singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” which still sends shivers down my spine. Another, which I will never forget, was when, on the final night, Joni Eareckson Tada, who had been sitting in the wheelchair section of the stadium, was brought up onto the stage, to share her extraordinary story, and was interpreted by a blind Russian translator. By the way, Mr. Graham was suffering from Parkinson’s disease when he spoke, and it was illustration to me on how God can use anyone, despite their disabilities, for His Glory.

When I got home, I then knew that I had to re-start my journalistic career and so I began the ASSIST News Service ( as a first step.

I had finally realized that God can use even an ex-tabloid journalist to spread the word about what He is doing in His World. I would also work with him as a writer at his overseas crusades in Germany and Puerto Rico, and also wrote the cover story on Billy and Franklin Graham for the Saturday Evening Post.

Billy Graham was an extremely humble man who could never understand why God chose him, —  a boy from a farm in North Carolina — to preach thebilly-graham-kim-il-sung Gospel to the world, yet he was welcomed by many world leaders including Queen Elizabeth and even Kim il-Sung. As we had both been to North Korea, we would have long chats about whether Kim il-Sung had given his life to Christ after Billy had talked with him. Billy was even planning to go back to go fishing with Kim and told me, “I was going to challenge him out on the lake to give his life to Christ, but then he died and I didn’t go.” So we will never know this side of heaven, what happened to the North Korea leader who had a Christian mother.

Some years ago, he showed me around his log-cabin home on the top of a mountain at Montreat, N.C., and I marveled how simple it was. No palace for this man, who has now left this earth, but is finally in a better place, but what a legacy that he has left behind.

Billy was devastated when he lost the love of his life, Ruth, in 2007, when passed away from pneumonia and degenerative osteoarthritis, but now he will has been reunited with her in heaven, and also the millions who found Christ because of his ministry.

Thank you Billy Graham!


Top: Rev’s. Martin Luther King Jr., left) and Billy Graham in 1957. (Photo courtesy of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association).

1) Billy Graham preaching. 2) Dan Wooding talks with Billy Graham during his crusade in Essen, Germany. 3) Dan Wooding chats with Billy and Ruth Graham at their home in Montreat, N.C. 3) Billy Graham with Kim il-Sung in North Korea.

Dan Wooding, 77, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents and is now living in Southern California with his wife, Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 55 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the author of some 45 books and has two TV programs and one radio show in Southern California.

Maronite Archbishop condemns attacks on churches in Syria

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Call for prayers to be said on the feast of St Paul

By Sheraz Khan
Middle East Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

DAMASCUS, SYRIA – Samir Nassar, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus, has condemned the death of 24 people following military bombardments in many regions in war-torn Syria.

A press release from Aid to the Church in Need, a Catholic charity, said that it had received an update from Archbishop Samir Nassar in relation to theMgr-Samir-Nassar-archeveque-maronite-Damas sufferings of Christians in Syria.

It quoted the Archbishop as saying that the bombs of Jan. 22 had now claimed 24 victims, of which seven were children, who were hit as they left school.

The release stated that the Archbishop in his communication to Aid to the Church in Need described the community’s “fear” and “anguish” following the loss of life.

“At the Patriarchate, there was more, serious damage in addition to the destruction caused by the bomb of Jan. 8,” the release quoted the Archbishop as saying.

It stated: “The initial shelling caused major damage to the Cathedral’s doors and windows as well as fuel tanks and water tanks.”

The Archbishop called for prayers for peace on the feast of St Paul (Thursday, Jan. 25), asking Christians around the world to join with them in prayer when they celebrated Mass.

“The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has turned towards peace and forgiveness. Please unite with us in our Eucharist on Jan. 25 – the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul,” the press release quoted the Archbishop as saying.

According to the release in Afrin, northern Syria, where Turkey started military action on Jan. 21, the Rev. Valentin Hanan of the Good Shepherdyoung-girl-holds-candle-damascus-syria Church made an urgent appeal for an immediate ceasefire – also asking Christians to pray for them.

“We call for urgent international protection for the believers in Afrin and to stop the Turkish bombardment,” he said. “At this moment, we are subjected to heavy shelling and the Islamic factions vow to enter the city. As a church we ask the Lord first for protection and then ask brethren for prayers and help.”

The press release said the Archbishop described the Christian community as “being under siege,” also saying that the city has experienced heavy shelling.

There are 250 Christian families in Afrin Canton with 190 families in Afrin city, 45 families in Rajo and 15 families in Maabatli, according to the minister, said the release.

It added: “Turkey claimed the bombardments were targeting Daesh (ISIS) fighters in the region, but the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have disputed this claim.

“According to the Syrian Democratic Forces, up to 150 Daesh (ISIS) fighters were killed in air strikes on the Middle Euphrates River Valley in the south-eastern province of Deir al-Zour take took place on Jan. 20”, it said.

Note: Aid to the Church in Need is a Pontifical Foundation directly under the Holy See. As a Catholic charity, ACN supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in need through information, prayer, and action. Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope St. John Paul II named “An outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organisation is now at work in 140 countries throughout the world. Undertaking thousands of projects every year, the charity provides emergency support for people experiencing persecution, transport for clergy and lay Church workers, Child’s Bibles, media and evangelisation projects, churches, Mass stipends and other support for priests and nuns and training for seminarians. Aid to the Church in Need UK is a registered charity in England and Wales (1097984) and Scotland (SC040748). ACN’s UK office is in Sutton, Surrey, and there is a Scottish office in Motherwell, near Glasgow and another office based in Lancaster that covers the North-West.


Syrian church damaged after bomb attack. (Omar Sanadiki/Reuters)

Samir Nassar, the Maronite Archbishop of Damascus.

Young girl with a candle at Al-Zaytoun Melkite Greek Catholic Church, Damascus, Syria. (© Aid to the Church in Need).

Brownback confirmation comes at crucial time for religious freedom worldwide

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By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate confirmed noted human-rights champion Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas on Jan. 25 as the new Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

Brownback will head the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom that monitors religious freedom abuses throughout the world. He is the first ambassador under the revised Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, the passage of which affirms continued congressional commitment to international religious freedom as a foreign relations priority.

The New York Times reported Jan. 24 that Browback will resign as Kansas’ governor on Jan. 31.

The outgoing governor tweeted hat he looks forward to working hard for the American people and religious freedom around the world.

With roughly 80 percent of the world’s people living in countries with high levels of religious oppression, it is a critical time for international religious freedom. In Burma, Iraq, China, and Nigeria, among other countries, Brownback’s diplomatic experience will be crucial in the months ahead.

“International religious freedom is one of the few, truly non-partisan issues in Washington, both fundamental to our identity as Americans and also essential to our national security,” said 21Wilberforce Senior Fellow Frank Wolf. “In Sam Brownback, we have a leader who not only understands the intricacies of Capitol Hill; he has a heart and the demonstrated passion for the mission of this office.”

While in Congress, Brownback was a Senate leader on international religious freedom, advocating for landmark policy reforms, both domestically and abroad, as well as for prisoners of conscience wrongly incarcerated for their faith. He led the effort to enact the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 which was central to the movement to combat human trafficking. Brownback was actively involved during the Darfur crisis. His travels to that embattled region compelled him to push for a genocide declaration in 2004. He introduced numerous pieces of key human rights legislation, including on North Korea and also Sudan, where he called on the Sudanese government to end slavery, “manufactured” famines, and civilian bombings. Brownback chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Sub-Committee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs and co-chaired the U.S. Helsinki Commission.

The Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom post was most recently held by Rabbi David Saperstein. 21Wilberforce President Randel Everett noted, “Ambassador Saperstein’s leadership has been an invaluable asset and he has furthered the cause for religious freedom around the globe.” When Saperstein was asked about Brownback’s support for international religious freedom he responded “It’s an issue he knows, he knows well and cares deeply about.”

Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Michael Farris said Brownback’s appointment is a step in the right direction toward defending international religious freedom.

“America must defend and protect religious freedom globally, and Gov. Brownback is unquestionably capable of engaging this vital mission. It’s clear from history that when any nation abuses or suppresses religious freedom, other freedoms are likewise in danger. America needs a strong advocate for the basic human rights and dignity of those who wish to live consistently with their faith without undue government interference. We commend the Trump Administration and the Senate on the confirmation of Gov. Brownback, whose clear passion and understanding of this issue will work for the good of persecuted people of faith around the world.”

Photo: Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has been appointed Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

© 2018 Inside The Pew

Commit to seek your reward in 2018

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

Weeks ago, I began my search for a new home. In the midst of the dreadful task came a message worthy of personal reflection.

I found a home on Zillow that fit my family’s needs – close to work, quiet neighborhood, and in a good school committ-in-2018-proverbsdistrict. I scheduled a tour with the real estate agent who is handling the rental process. After the tour was complete, the agent and I talked a bit more about the owner’s and my desired date for rental.

As we closed our conversation, she asked about my current career. I volunteered that although I currently work as a technical writer, my ultimate goal is to teach English composition at the college or university level. After all, I told her, this was the only reason why, in 2013, I began my pursuit toward a graduate degree in English (I graduated in May 2015).

The agent told me I was a smart woman, but I needed to stay dedicated to my original goal. I thought to myself, “Well, I have been dedicated. I’ve applied for several positions but have been passed up.” I assessed my situation: I diverged from my intended path, allowing setbacks to take control of my centeredness.

She said, “God rewards those who stay committed. “ Furthermore, she noted that the road may not be simple, but, in the end, He knows your heart and desires.

Since our meeting weeks ago, I have replayed her comment over and over again in my head: “God rewards those who stay committed to theirtonya-andris-whitaker-2017 desires.”

Instead of commitment, I had become a wayward soldier. I now shamefully admitted that I have become discouraged because I didn’t immediately secure a lectureship. And, although it is not the blessing God has for me, technical writing provides financial safety. Commitment with God’s assurance, not comfort, will drive away the doubt and mismanagement in my life. Goodness, the first sentence of my master’s thesis acknowledgments was a thank you to Him. How has it become that my reliance on Him during the writing process is no longer needed as I press forward?

As we prepare to enter 2018, what goals have you set for yourself? If it includes work and education goals, remember to keep in prayer, stay focused, and count it all joy. As God used this real estate agent to deliver His message, dedication and commitment are essential. Know that God has our best interests at heart; He promised this to us (Psalm 37:5, KJV). In the end, the victory will be ours, as solemnly presented in 2 Timothy 4:7 (NIV): “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

Food for thought: Remember your words. Stand stronger behind His.

Photos: Main: “Proverbs 16:3” courtesy of Womanista Wellness, formerly known as Skinny Mom. Secondary: Tonya Whitaker

Tonya Whitaker is managing editor of Inside The Pew.

© 2017 Inside The Pew


Merry Christmas to our readers

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By Grelan A. Muse Sr.
Inside the Pew

President Donald Trump has declared that, “We are saying Merry Christmas again.”

Sadly, some people are afraid to say Merry Christmas. In a move not to offend anyone, believers opt for the generic “Seasons Greetings” or “Happymerry-christmas-manger Holidays.” Those two greetings lack individuality. But, there is no subjectivity when it comes to Merry Christmas. When the greeting is spoken, we know exactly what it means. Do Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1: 30-33, and Matthew 1:18-25 sound familiar?

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, appeared on FOX News’ “The Story With Martha MacCallum” on Dec. 21 to explain that Trump’s stance on Merry Christmas is a “breath of fresh air.”

“So the president coming to the forefront and saying, ‘Look, we’re going to say Merry Christmas again,’ it is a signal to say, You know what, it’s OK to express yourself on religious issues in our culture,’” Perkins said.

Society may or may not say it isn’t acceptable to say Merry Christmas, but Christians have to stand confident in their beliefs. Say Merry Christmas with joy in your heart!

Americans Overwhelmingly Prefer Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays, According to New Marist Poll

By more than 20 percentage points (59 to 36 percent) a majority of Americans prefer the greeting “Merry Christmas” to “Happy Holidays,” according

*Results do not add up to 100 due to rounding (PRNewsfoto/Knights of Columbus)

to a new Knights of Columbus-Marist poll.

The nearly 6 in 10 (59 percent) who prefer Merry Christmas is slightly higher than last year’s 57 percent.

This survey of 1,074 adults was conducted Nov. 6-Nov. 9, 2017 by The Marist Poll. Adults 18 years of age and older residing in the contiguous United States were contacted on landline or mobile numbers and interviewed in English by telephone using live interviewers. The results were balanced to reflect the 2013 American Community Survey 1-year estimates for age, gender, income, race, and region.  Results are statistically significant within ±3.0 percentage points. The error margin increases for cross-tabulations.

Grelan A. Muse is founder of Inside The Pew and Pew Talk Radio. Contact him at

© 2017 Inside The Pew


Retired educator feeds her community with books

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

For Dr. Lynda Jones-Mubarak, being a champion of early literacy initiatives and tackling hunger in the community in which one lives is a trueauthor-mubarak-carver-city blueprint for happier, safer, and more vibrant communities.

To place her vision in reality, the retired special education teacher, facilitator, and U.S. Army veteran has formed an alliance with Community Food Bank in Fort Worth.

“This alliance was forged in an effort to end hunger in the North Texas region,” Jones-Mubarak said.

As a longtime supporter of the food bank and other community based organizations, Mubarak saw fit to donate 15 percent of all proceeds from her newly published children’s book, titled Carver Park  to the Community Food Bank.

Mubarak said Carver Park is an area that was designated for African-Americans when segregation prevailed as law and as a dominant force in social life in Waco, Texas.

In the book, Mubarak recounts her times in Carver Park and gives readers a perspective of one child who found the vibrancy of life through the harshness of society’s circumstances during that time. The storyline affirms that choice people in our lives provide us with the knowledge and support needed to learn, survive, and progress during a time of great social unrest and historical change, similar to what many marginalized communities may be facing today.

Community Food Bank’s mission serves to fight hunger by providing food, education, and resources to hungry families in a dignified, personal and timely manner. They operate as a food pantry and as a food bank; without ZIP code restrictions.

The educator said the collaboration between Mubarak and the Community Food Bank is the subtle reminder that one person can make a difference, even in the most modest of ways.

Carver Park is available for purchase at

Feature photo: Carver Park by Dr. Lynda Jones-Mubarak. Inset photo: Dr. Jones-Mubarak.

© 2017 Inside The Pew

UT Austin professors discover copy of Jesus’ secret revelations to his brother

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Special to Inside The Pew

AUSTIN, Texas — The first-known original Greek copy of a heretical Christian writing describing Jesus’ secret teachings to his brother James has been discovered at Oxford University by biblical scholars at The University of Texas at Austin.

To date, only a small number of texts from the Nag Hammadi library — a collection of 13 Coptic Gnostic books discovered in 1945 in Upper Egypt — ut-autin-biblical-scholars-find-jesus-teachingshave been found in Greek, their original language of composition. But earlier this year, UT Austin religious studies scholars Geoffrey Smith and Brent Landau added to the list with their discovery of several fifth- or sixth-century Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James, which was thought to have been preserved only in its Coptic translations until now.

“To say that we were excited once we realized what we’d found is an understatement,” said Smith, an assistant professor of religious studies. “We never suspected that Greek fragments of the First Apocalypse of James survived from antiquity. But there they were, right in front of us.”

The ancient narrative describes the secret teachings of Jesus to his brother James, in which Jesus reveals information about the heavenly realm and future events, including James’ inevitable death.

“The text supplements the biblical account of Jesus’ life and ministry by allowing us access to conversations that purportedly took place between Jesus and his brother, James — secret teachings that allowed James to be a good teacher after Jesus’ death,” Smith said.

Such apocryphal writings, Smith said, would have fallen outside the canonical boundaries set by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, in his “Easter letter of 367” that defined the 27-book New Testament: “No one may add to them, and nothing may be taken away from them.”jesus-manuscript-smith-landau

With its neat, uniform handwriting and words separated into syllables, the original manuscript was probably a teacher’s model used to help students learn to read and write, Smith and Landau said.

“The scribe has divided most of the text into syllables by using mid-dots. Such divisions are very uncommon in ancient manuscripts, but they do show up frequently in manuscripts that were used in educational contexts,” said Landau, a lecturer in the UT Austin Department of Religious Studies.

The teacher who produced this manuscript must have “had a particular affinity for the text,” Landau said. It does not appear to be a brief excerpt from the text, as was common in school exercises, but rather a complete copy of this forbidden ancient writing.

Smith and Landau announced the discovery at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting in Boston in November and are working to publish their preliminary findings in the Greco Roman Memoirs series of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri.

Featured photo: A piece of the Coptic translation of the First Apocalypse of James preserved in the Nag Hammadi Library. Rights to published images of the original Greek fragments are owned by the Egypt Exploration Society and currently unavailable for circulation. (Nag Hammed Library, Oxford University).

Inset: Geoffrey Smith, left, and Brent Landau take a closer look at the Greek fragment identified as the First Apocalypse of James. (Courtesy of Geoffrey Smith, UT Austin).

Christian leaders unite to heal racially troubled Charlottesville

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Local pastors and leaders, plan Prayer Walks and a Holy Convocation, to promote racial healing, and repentance, in Charlottesville, Va.

By Bill Bray
Campus Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Local Christian leaders met in Charlottesville on Nov. 29 to finalize plans for a Prayer Walk and Holy Convocation on Dec. 2 in this racially troubled campus community at the University of Virginia.

Calling for a day of “prayer and repentance” on the eve of Advent Sunday, Dec. 2, the event aims to bring healing after rioting here left three dead and 19 injured last August.  The Day of Prayer and Repentance is called “Healing4Charlottesville” and will begin with a Pastor’s Prayer Breakfast at 9:30 a.m. followed by two public events.

The Healing for Charlottesville Day of Prayer Walk will start off at the chapel on the grounds of University and 9 other points around the city’s heather-heyer-memorial-new-downtown mall. Many small groups of walkers will start at various churches and parking lots and gradually merge at the County Office Building.

From that point they will walk the length of the Downtown Mall and gather at the Pavilion for a 90-minute program.

“The Church of Jesus Christ should transcend and transform politics,” says chairman Mark Beliles of the Grace Covenant Church and president of the America Transformation Company, “but on this day, we plan to gather to ask forgiveness of God and one another.”

The Reverends Beliles and Al Edwards – along with about 15 other clergy from white, African American and Korean churches – organized the walk. Pastor Edwards, from the predominately black Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church, also organized the Charlottesville Clergy Collective. It is the leading inter-faith group that includes Jewish and Muslim groups.

Most of the pastors involved in the Day of Prayer were at the deadly riots on the weekend of August 12 that have since made the city of Charlottesville a symbol of racial hatred. At that time, Antifa and Klu Klux Klan extremists rioted over the removal of Confederate war statues in the downtown parks.

Beliles is no rabble rouser and is asking those who participate to “not speak or carry signs that in any way focus blame on anyone but ourselves.

“The majority white churches especially need to do this,” he said, as he outlined plans for inviting visiting speakers to promote reconciliation and repentance.

“We want to end this year with a holy season of peace and love, and that’s what is bringing us together in this way.”

Photo: A memorial to Charlottesville victim, Heather Heyer.