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Attorneys: Grandfather Banned from Reading Bible on Public Sidewalk in Tennessee Town

Attorneys representing a Tennessee grandfather who wants to read his Bible on a public sidewalk say a city law that bans him from doing that without a permit violates his constitutional rights.

“I was shocked that a city had a law banning anyone from reading the Bible on a public sidewalk without the city’s permission,” said Paul Johnson in a statement. “All I want to do is tell people about the love of Jesus by reading my Bible, but I was worried I might be arrested if I tried.”

First Liberty and the Center for Religious Expression sent a letter today to Sweetwater, Tennessee officials on behalf of Johnson. 

The letter requests that the city stop using the city ordinance, which one attorney in a statement, described as “overbroad and unconstitutional,” and a First Liberty news release described as “outdated.” 

“Because he can’t go into the mission field and go to all the world to preach the Gospel, he does that anywhere nearby that he can,” Chelsey Youman, counsel for First Liberty, told CBN News.    

 At a solar eclipse event in Sweetwater in August, Youman said Johnson wanted to share the Gospel.

 “But when he arrived and was in a public sidewalk, not really bothering anyone, and the police showed up and told him he was not allowed to tell… to express any of his views without a permit,” Youman said.

“So after that, he went to go get a permit from the city recorder’s office, and they denied him,” she continued. “So essentially, the city of Sweetwater, Tennessee, bans all public expression on any of their public sidewalks, which is unconstitutional.”

The demand letter states that Johnson decided to get that permit to speak during another festival, happening about one month later.

The letter continues:

Mrs. Morgan, however, informed Johnson that he was not eligible to receive a permit. For reason, Mrs. Morgan invoked the same ordinance referenced before, the permit requirement for “demonstrations” Sweetwater Ordinance 16-110, asserting that she could not issue a permit for his planned speech. Mrs. Morgan indicated that Johnson’s speech was inappropriate because many people would be present for the festival and his expression could interfere with them. Mrs. Morgan advised Johnson that he could apply for a permit, but the request would most likely be denied.
That very day, Johnson submitted an application for a permit to speak during the Muscadine Festival, but he has yet to receive a response.

The letter ends with a demand that Sweetwater provide “written assurance,” allowing Johnson “to peacefully share his religious beliefs at future events without imposing the unconstitutional permit requirement for ‘demonstrations’ on him.”

Johnson’s attorneys threaten to pursue legal action if the city does not meet a three-week deadline.

“Every American has the right to share earnestly-held views in public,” Nate Kellum, the Center for Religious Expression’s chief counsel, said in a statement. “No one should need government permission to preach.”

“Mr. Johnson does not need permission from the government to express his faith in public,” Youman said in a statement. “The First Amendment is permission enough for any citizen in any city in America to peacefully read the Bible out loud on a public sidewalk.”

“The Sweetwater ordinance is overbroad, unconstitutional, and must be immediately changed or eliminated,” she continued.

CBN News contacted Sweetwater city officials, Mayor Doyle Lowe, Police Chief Robert Byrum, City Attorney John Cleveland, Esq., and Recorder Jessica Morgan for comment. They have not yet responded to our inquiry.

Evangelical Women Speak Out Against Roy Moore

Nancy French is well-known in many evangelical circles as a four-time New York Times best-selling author, wife of attorney and National Review senior writer David French and mother of two. But as a sexual abuse survivor, she completely identifies with the Alabama women accusing Judge Roy Moore of sexual abuse.

French was just 12 when she says her pastor began to abuse her and like Leigh Corfman, who says she was 14 when Moore began to abuse her and Beverly Young Nelson who says she 16 when Moore assaulted her, French spent years trying to recover and decades before she spoke publicly of her trauma.

“It’s weird, I’m 42 and I’ve never really discussed this and when I was going to my counselor I couldn’t even tell him what happened,” French explained to CBN News.

French eventually shared her story right before the 2016 election, concerned that the country was about to elect an abuser.

She shared it again this week, as the Washington Post published a story leveling sexual abuse accusations against Moore, the GOP Senate candidate in Alabama.

“The evil of sexual predators is that they attack the weak, make them weaker, then discredit them because of their weakness,” said French.

Moore has denied the allegations and pointed to his decades-long career in law and politics as well as his 32-year-marriage in his defense.

He has also questioned the timing of the Post story, just weeks before the Dec. 12th election for the Alabama Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“This article is a prime example of fake news,” Moore said, “we do not intend to let the Democrats, we do not intend to let the establishment Republicans, we do not intend to let anybody prevent us from finishing this race.”

French finds his defense unconvincing. She and a handful of other prominent evangelical women are speaking out in the wake of Moore’s accusers coming forward, calling on believers to seriously consider the allegations.

“No one is entitled to be a U.S. senator,” said French, who thinks that Moore should step down, if for nothing else than to protect the integrity of the GOP.

Bible study leader and abuse survivor Beth Moore tweeted, “this idea that God puts up with secret sins from His servant for the greater good is a total crock.”

Kay Warren, the wife of Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren, and an abuse survivor herself. has tweeted multiple times since the Post published the Moore story and called the argument by the Alabama state auditor that Moore’s relationship with a 14-year-old  was similar to that of Joseph and Mary’s relationship in the Bible “mind-blowing.”

French says she gets it that not all allegations of sexual assault are true, especially on college campuses where she believes women sometimes harass men with them. But in this instance, she says, common sense should prevail.

“When there’s a credible accusation or two or three or four and we still bury our heads and cry partisanship that is intolerable,” she said.

Target Closing 12 Stores: Is it Because of the Boycott?  

Is the #BoycottTarget campaign continuing to damage the retailer?


Target has announced it will be closing 12 under performing stores next year.  The company says the closings are based on profitability metrics.


“It’s not a decision we make lightly,” said Kristy Welker, a Target spokeswoman. “We have a really rigorous process in place in evaluating the performance of a store in deciding when to close or relocate a store. We close a store after seeing several years of decreasing profitability.”


Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association, which calls its #BoycottTarget initiative “highly successful,” said what Target should do to reverse declining sales is “welcome 1.5 million customers and their families back to stores—reversing the dangerous policy that puts women and girls in danger.”


Target triggered the boycott last year with a blog post that said transgender customers were welcome to use the bathroom or fitting room that matched their gender identity.


“Everyone deserves to feel like they belong,” the blog said. “And you’ll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target.”


1.5 million have since signed the #BoycottTarget pledge to not shop at Target.


Sales fell nearly 6% in the three quarters after the post compared with the same period last year, and same-store sales have dropped every quarter since the post, according to Business insider.


But other brick and mortar retailers like Sears have also had to close stores amid withering competition from Amazon.


As it closes some locations, Target says it will open 32 “smaller-format” stores this year and 35 new locations next year.

As Sutherland Springs Suffers, One Man Finds Salvation


The First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs opened to the public today and amidst the grief, one visitor gave his life to the Lord.

Mitch Kolenovsky, a field ministry strategist for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC), told CBN News “one man prayed to receive Christ at that chapel.”

Since the shooting that took 26 lives one week ago, Baptists have removed the blood-stained carpet and painted the sanctuary white while placing 26 chairs inside to honor those killed. 

Kolenovsky said the church will remain open to the public every day for the next week.  The church still has not decided whether or not it will demolish the building but plans to temporarily worship at the site in a tent.

Licensed professional counselors are available at the church as it remains open to the public, mindful that just visiting the site will trigger pain and grief for many.  “We’ve got people there to help them,” said Kolenovsky.

Monday afternoon, the family of 14-year-old Annabelle Pomeroy remembered her in a packed-out service that hundreds attended. Kolenovsky told CBN News she was a “vibrant, vivacious young lady who captured the hearts of many people.”

He described her dad, Pastor Frank Pomeroy, as “a rock” who has been at the hospital visited those wounded in the shooting every day since last Sunday.

Tomorrow, a funeral is planned for all nine members of the Holcombe family who lost their lives in the massacre. 

The state and the national convention will cover funeral expenses all the victims.  “We want to make sure the families have no funeral expenses,” said Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC).

Southern Baptists will also cover the salary of pastor Pomeroy for the next year.

The convention holds its annual meeting in Dallas this week and has re-worked its schedule to focus on the tragedy.  Monday night’s opening session will feature a live report from the area from Kolenovsky.

The SBTC also created a security seminar to address the latest concerns of its 2,650 affiliated churches.  One hundred and seventy have signed up for the seminar which will help churches with the basics of creating a safety plan

The SBTC will host five church security conferences in the next year to help chuches think through not only how to respond to a shooter but how to prepare for weather emergencies, medical emergencies and fire.

Texas Church Members Meet for First Time Since Attack

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, Texas (AP) — Hundreds of people will gather in the tiny town of Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday to worship with surviving members of a local church where a shooting rampage left more than two dozen people dead.

Members of the First Baptist Church will hold a church service for the first time since a gunman opened fire inside the small church a week earlier in the worst mass shooting in Texas history.

Initial plans called for gathering at a community center could house a few dozen people. But when organizers realized about 500 people were planning to attend, the service was moved outside to a baseball park.

Church representatives also plan to eventually open a public memorial inside the church, where 26 empty chairs have been placed. Authorities have put the official death toll at 26 victims because one of the 25 people killed was pregnant. Church officials have said the building will likely be demolished.

On Saturday, about 100 people gathered outside the town’s community center to commemorate Veterans Day and to honor the shooting victims, nearly half of whom had ties to the Air Force.

“Maybe this will start the healing process that will get Sutherland Springs and Wilson County to put this horrific tragedy behind us and look to the future,” county Judge Richard Jackson, his voice breaking, told the crowd, which included first responders and law enforcement officers.

Jackson, the county’s top administrator, thanked the first responders and others who rushed to First Baptist Church in the aftermath of last Sunday’s shooting, which also wounded about 20 people. What they saw there will affect them the rest of their lives, Jackson said.

The gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley, died of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound after being shot and chased by two men who heard gunfire from the church. Investigators have said the attack appeared to stem from a domestic dispute involving Kelley and his mother-in-law, who sometimes attended services at the church but wasn’t there the day of the shooting.

Kelley had a history of domestic violence: He was given a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force after pleading guilty to assaulting his first wife and stepson.

Sutherland Springs is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of San Antonio and not far from several military posts, including Lackland Air Force Base. The Air Force’s chief of staff, Gen. David Goldfein, said 12 of those killed were either members of the Air Force or had family ties to it.

Among them were Scott and Karen Marshall, both 56, who had decided to retire in nearby La Vernia after meeting when they were in the service together more than 30 years ago. On Thursday, a military funeral was held for them at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.

On Saturday, two silver hearses carried the bodies another couple, Therese and Richard Rodriguez, to a small cemetery on the edge of Sutherland Springs following a funeral.

Retired Chief Warrant Officer Mike Gonzales, who led Saturday’s Veterans Day ceremony, said many veterans choose to live in the San Antonio area because of its deep military ties, and families tend to migrate to the city’s surrounding rural areas.

“We come here to enjoy life, to get quiet and to raise our children,” he said. “We’ve been to war zones and seen that tragedy firsthand. Never did we think that tragedy would strike here.”

A steady stream of people also visited a makeshift memorial of crosses adorned with flowers, photographs, red hearts and white, purple and pink balloons. Among them was Jackie Lee, who traveled from San Antonio with several friends.

“It was on my heart since it happened,” she said. “I needed to come to show the community some support, to show these people some support.”

Copyright Associated Press 2017

Letters from the Frontlines: The National Cathedral Pays Homage to Veterans

Washington – With landmarks such as the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, The United States Air Force Memorial and Arlington Cemetery, the nation’s capital has no shortage of beacons paying homage to servicemen and women.

The Washington National Cathedral, located in the heart of DC, is no exception. Throughout the year, the cathedral prides itself on remembering the sacrifice of veterans.

In a special performance,  “The President’s Own” United States Marine Chamber Orchestra partnered with the National Cathedral for a Veterans Day Concert.

The orchestra presented powerful renditions of hymns such as “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” “Amazing Grace,” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

In addition to times of prayer and reflection, attendees heard actual letters from servicemen and women serving on the frontlines.

“Even though I had a front seat to man’s inhumanity to man, I believed that good would prevail,“ read a letter from a Marine serving in Iraq.

“There aren’t any stores here in Bosnia, so I couldn’t buy you any toys or souvenirs for your birthday. But what I am sending you is something very special. It is a flag. This flag represents America,” wrote another to his son back home.

The Washington National Cathedral is the sixth largest cathedral in the world and second largest in the US.

Throughout the year, the National Cathedral dedicates itself to times of reflection for the military through its Veterans Initiative.

The Veterans Initiative is a ministry dedicated to healing the “minds, bodies, and spirits” of former and current members of the US military.

Baby Box Credited With Saving Abandoned Newborn

A controversial device in Indiana is credited with saving a newborn baby.

The Safe Haven Baby Box is a temperature controlled container that sends an alert to first responders when something heavy is placed inside. It’s meant to be a safe place for parents to surrender an unwanted child.

The box was installed in 2016 and was utilized for the first time last week.

“When this box was installed, we hoped that it would never be used, yet we’re thankful that it exists for cases just like the one Tuesday night,” said Coolspring Fire Chief Mick Pawlik.

Pawlik found the baby after receiving the alert from the Safe Haven Baby Box. 

“We are grateful that the mother had this option and made this choice, and we remain concerned for her health,” he continued.

According to the La Porte Country Sherriff the baby is in good condition.

Under Indiana’s Safe Haven Infant Protection Act, parents are allowed to surrender their children to hospitals, police and fire stations without criminal prosecution within 30 days of the baby’s birth.

Safe Haven Baby Box  advocates say the box goes the extra step by removing any potential embarrassment from face-to-face interaction.

According to the Safe Haven Baby Box website, the program first helps moms find pregnancy crisis centers, counselors and recommends Safe Haven Baby Boxes as a “last resort.”

Pro-life advocate Monica Kelsey, the box’s founder, was abandoned by her mother just two hours after she was born. 

“Even though abortion was illegal, my birth mother had still succumbed to the pressure of being pregnant, unwed, and carrying a child conceived through rape,” she explained to CBN News.

“And at the advice of her mother, which would be my biological grandmother, she found herself in a back alley abortion clinic,” Kelsey added.

But Kelsey’s mother refused to go through with the abortion. 

Kelsey said she has always had the desire to help mothers in similar situations.

Critics say the boxes lessen the chances of the mother seeking medical attention.

Melania Trump Visits Military Families in Alaska

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (AP) — Melania Trump might have been a fashion model at one time in her life, but she had no qualms ripping off a chunk of messy play dough and getting her hands dirty, just like the three preschoolers seated at the table with her Friday at a military base in Alaska.

Trump expertly rubbed the material between her two hands into a perfect sphere and then rolled the red small ball on the table to the girl seated across from her.

The nation’s first lady then moved to the table to her right and made a harmonica out of ordinary household materials, held together with a rubber band.

Wonderful to spend time with military families at JBER #Alaska. Thank you for your service! #HappyVeteransDay

— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) November 11, 2017

It’s not the heady stuff of the official visit with her husband to Asia but hundreds packed the Arctic Oasis Community Center to get a glimpse of the first lady as she toured programs for children and youth at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. She made a refueling stop at the Anchorage base en route back to Washington, D.C., after spending the last week with President Donald Trump in South Korea and China.

The White House said late Friday that the first lady “has her own schedule to keep and needed to get back.”

The president continued his official visit to Asia.

Melania Trump, wearing a three-quarter length winter coat over a brown turtle neck and white slacks, spent about 35 minutes visiting with children and teachers.

“Any time we have an opportunity to share with others what our program does and the educational basis for all the activities that we do, it’s a chance to show our story and to share with other individuals how we serve our military population,” said Tamra De Benedetto, who oversees all activities at the base for children under age 18.

Trump viewed items children made on a 3D printer, saw sewing projects, and watched as they constructed fish out of compact discs, glitter and gems.

“Every program we offer has an educational purpose and a reason for why we do it,” De Benedetto said.

De Benedetto said she exchanged a few private words with Trump. “She is just delightful and very genuine,” she said.

Trump didn’t make a public speech or address reporters, but did take time to shake hands and talk briefly with parents and military members who flocked to the community center.

Paige Wyse and her husband, Air Force Tech Sgt. Matthew Wyse, brought their 4-year-old son Brantley so he could make a fish with the first lady. They found out about Trump’s visit Thursday and tried to explain to their son who she was.

He made the correlation when she explained to him that the visitor is the president’s wife, and then he became excited.

“He was like, ‘Oh, wow. OK,’” she said.

Air Force Master Sgt. David Jennings brought his wife, Lindsay, and their two daughters, Abbigail and Annabelle, to see the first lady. He said dignitaries stop at the base all the time, but base personnel rarely are able to get close.

But in this case, the family got a good view of the visit, and they took pictures to remember the rare event.

“A great family memory here,” he said.

There are 14,000 active duty soldiers and airmen stationed at the joint Army and Air Force facility in Anchorage. With their family members, that number swells to 29,000.

There are currently 1,800 service members deployed all over the globe, including 1,200 in Afghanistan.


D.C.'s Museum of the Bible Officially Opens This Week

The new Museum of the Bible – a project seven years in the making – officially opens its doors this week.
Blocks away from the U.S. Capitol and in the heart of Washington, D.C., it’s the first museum solely dedicated to God’s holy word.
CBN News got an early sneak peek of the 430,000 square foot, eight-story building. Click on the video above for a personalized tour.
Once past the bronze Gutenberg Gates and security, the very first thing visitors will see is a 140-foot long digital LED display, which boasts a series of breathtaking colorful scenes in a pictorial canopy.
It’s the first glimpse at the museum’s technological edge, but the museum has much more to beyond the latest gadgets and gizmos.
Here is a floor-by-floor preview of the museum’s exhibits and galleries:

  • First floor: Lobby, atrium, media wall, gift shop, children’s gallery (Courageous Pages), coffee shop
  • Second floor:  Impact of the Bible gallery, featuring a 20 to 40-foot long scratchboard panel chronicling how the Bible shaped America’s founding and still reverberates today.
  • Third floor: History of the Bible gallery to trace the origins and evolution of the Bible
  • Fourth floor:  Narrative of the Bible gallery
  • Exhibit space for international museum galleries including more than 700 artifacts from the Israel Antiquities Authority currently on display, performing arts hall, research library
  • Sixth floor: Biblical garden, viewing gallery, restaurant

Dr. Tony Ziess is the museum’s executive director. He told CBN News the goal is to expose people to the Bible and help them engage with the holy book. 
“No other book has had such an impact on civilization, particularly western civilization,” Zeiss said. “It’s exciting to know that we’re a part of exposing this book and getting people engaged in all walks of life — whether they come from a faith-based perspective or a non-faith based perspective. Whether they’re Hebrew or whether they’re Protestant or Catholic or Ethiopian. Whatever they happen to be.”

The museum has taken a decidedly non-sectarian approach, saying its mission is to help people engage with the Bible and bring its rich stories to life.
With a $500 million investment and global cultural and scholastic partnerships, the Museum of the Bible hopes that its mission translates into more people reading and appreciating the best-selling book of all time.

The World Helps This Dying Boy Celebrate Christmas Early

Jacob Thompson’s biggest dream is to see another Christmas. But with a rare form of stage 4 cancer attacking his head and hips, doctors say he will pass soon. 

That’s why the family is asking people around the globe to help Jacob celebrate Christmas early by sending him Christmas cards.

Jacob’s mother, Michelle Thompsom Simard, and his father Roger Guay, set up a Go Fund Me Page to help share his story. 

“Roger and myself have been told that we should be spending as much time as possible with him and we should start making arrangements for his passing,” Simard wrote on the page, which was set up to help cover Jacob’s funeral costs,” Michelle said. 

“Jacob loves the holiday season,” Simard added, “and we want him to know that Christmas wishes come true and that there are good people who care all around the world.”

People have already begun sending Jacob Christmas cheer.

The entire cast of “Code Black” also joined the chorus of public figures and celebrities wishing Jacob a Merry Christmas. 


Merry Christmas, Jacob! Please send cards:
Jacob Thompson
Maine Medical Center
22 Bramhall St
Portland, ME 04102

— Michael Seitzman (@michaelseitzman) November 3, 2017


If you would like to send Jacob a card, his address is below.

Jacob Thompson
C/O Maine Medical Center
22 Bramhall Street
Portland, ME 04102