The Rev. Christy Thomas: Small actions can help combat larger evils

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: There is evil in the world, at many levels, from government and business, down to communities and ourselves. On encountering evil, what is our Christian responsibility, either as a church or individual?

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The Rev. Christy Thomas: White nationalism not compatible with Commandments

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: Is white nationalism in any way compatible with Jesus’ Commandments?

Religious groups against travel ban cast Trump as adversary

WASHINGTON (TNS) — People of faith have been on the front lines of refugee resettlement for decades, and they are both furious and disheartened that President Donald Trump has halted the U.S. program. Instead of collecting housewares and making welcome signs, they are now bracing for a fight against a former ally: the U.S. government.

Mormon church launches online college program

SALT LAKE CITY — In a nod to its increasingly global membership, the Mormon church said Monday it will bolster the organizational structure and appoint a leader for a worldwide online higher education program that has expanded to 50 countries since it started eight years ago at a church university in Idaho.

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The Rev Christy Thomas: Good people take risks to aid the oppressed

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: Is there a better, more Christian way to minimize terrorism threats in the long run from immigrants coming to the U.S. from Muslim-majority nations than to ban them outright until extreme vetting is completed?

AP

President pledges to end political limits on churches

WASHINGTON — Declaring that religious freedom is “under threat,” President Donald Trump vowed Thursday to repeal a rarely enforced IRS rule that says pastors who endorse candidates from the pulpit risk losing their tax-exempt status.

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The Rev. Christy Thomas: Answer to eternal question about God elusive

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: One of my lectures was on innocent suffering and how that can occur in a world “governed” by an omniscient, omnipresent and all-good God. I covered about 30 answers, none of which appeared to be satisfactory.

AP

Sudanese Jews recall old times with nostalgia

TEL AVIV, Israel — Lily Ben-David gets emotional when she talks about her childhood in Sudan. She still dreams of her school, the courtyard, the balcony and frolicking on the banks of the Blue Nile, even though it has been more than 50 years since she saw any of it.

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The Rev. Christy Thomas: Unaccountable leaders will bring destruction

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: I am reading about Prometheus and the good stuff he did for humanity. Zeus does not punish Prometheus for his trickery but punishes humankind, the innocent bystanders instead.

AP

Vatican rejects group’s effort to discredit probe

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican struck back this week at the Knights of Malta, rejecting its attempt to discredit a Vatican-appointed commission investigating the ouster of a top official over a condom scandal.

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The Rev. Christy Thomas: Practice grace to help us do what is right

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: Recently, I have encountered quite a few Christians who have told me that, after they were saved, living out their Christianity has been easy. “You just do the right thing,” they tell me.

AP

Group seeks to restore historic church in N.M.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The building withstood. Though soaking in stinky, soggy ash from a fire that gutted the sanctuary, the structure of the Joy Light Church of God in Christ’s building survived.

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The Rev. Christy Thomas: All countries must embrace ethics, morality

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: What is your view on the U.S. supporting Israel? The Thoughtful Pastor: I am often fascinated by what appears to be unqualified support given to the nation of Israel as though its leaders can make no mistakes or support destructive policies.

Religion Calendar

Church schedules yearly chili cookoff event

The youth at First United Methodist Church will hold their yearly chili cookoff at noon Jan. 22 in the Monroe Building at the Denton site.

Dallas Morning News file photo

Local folks who made a difference in 2016

Beloved business owners, cultural activists, motivated advocates of local legislation and a woman who made waves in the ongoing discussion about transgender rights topped this year’s list of the most interesting people in Denton in 2016.

The Rev. Christy Thomas: Tips offered to help see God’s given mercies

We have reached the end of 2016. It seems like many found this past 12-month period unusually difficult.

The Rev. Christy Thomas: Let’s all help change world for the better

Every child born changes the entire world. Whether eagerly longed for or dreaded, male or female, impoverished or ultra-wealthy, every child changes the world.Whether loaded with physical and mental challenges or worry-free healthy, a musical prodigy or profoundly tone deaf, hair sunny-silky light or wildly curly/kinky dark, skin glorious ebony-rich or albino-like pale, every child changes the world.

Denton church slates ‘watch night’ service

Voice of Jesus Parish will host a New Year’s Eve “watch night” service starting at 9 a.m. on Dec. 31 at the church, 514 N. Elm St in Denton.

The Rev. Christy Thomas: Give freely to all without bringing up religion

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: In this season of giving, which is really an all-year affair, is it OK to love and help people, even to save their physical lives, without urging them to become Christians?

AP

Catholic church gets back in business in Czech Republic

ZELIV MONASTERY, Czech Republic — Inside the 12th century Zeliv monastery, overlooked by crucifixes on stone walls, is modern machinery that a visitor might not expect to find: a brand new beer production line.

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The Rev. Christy Thomas: Jesus would help heal, not fund, panhandlers

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: I have often wondered how we should handle panhandlers? Mostly I feel like it’s my job to be generous and let God sort it out, but sometimes I feel like a schmuck when I give them cash. What would Jesus do?

AP

Spur comes under fire for cross in public park

LUBBOCK — A West Texas city is coming under scrutiny for a cross that sits in a public park. The Wisconsin-based Freedom from Religion Foundation wrote Spur officials in July after a resident contacted the foundation to complain, staff attorney Sam Grover said Thursday. The cross on public land violates the Establishment Clause of the constitution’s First Amendment, he said.

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AP

Indonesia protests put minority Chinese in fear

JAKARTA, Indonesia — The capital of Muslim-majority Indonesia is on edge ahead of what is expected to be a second massive protest by conservative Muslims against its Christian governor and no group more so than its Chinese minority.

AP

More mosques get hate letters

LOS ANGELES — Several more mosques nationwide have reported receiving a hate-filled letter from California that warns Muslims to leave the country or face genocide.

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To tell us about your event or meeting, visit DentonRC.com and click on “Let Us Know” for our online forms; email to drc@dentonrc.com; fax to 940-566-6888; or mail to Religion Calendar, Denton Record-Chronicle, 314 E. Hickory St., Denton, TX 76201.

The Rev. Christy Thomas: Giving presents for Christmas a fine idea

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: What is your feeling about gift giving at Christmas time? Have you found your feelings toward gift giving at Christmas have changed over the years?

Religion calendar

Sunday at 6 p.m. — “A Christmas Concert” at First United Methodist Church, 201 S. Locust St. Church choirs and ensembles will perform in the Monroe Building.

AP

Pope allows priests to absolve ‘grave sin’ of abortion

VATICAN CITY — Saying nothing is beyond the reach of God’s mercy, Pope Francis told Catholics worldwide he is allowing all priests to absolve the faithful of abortion — women and health workers alike — even while stressing that it is a grave sin in the eyes of the church to “end an innocent life.”

The Rev. Christy Thomas: Psalm opens Pandora’s box of questions

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: Can you help me with the theological underpinnings of this? Do religious folks who object to abortion believe that unborn children are without sin? I thought Christians believed that all humans are conceived and born into sin. If not, why baptize infants?

Changes to no-mask law dropped after Muslim backlash

SAVANNAH, Ga. — Advocates accused a Georgia lawmaker of targeting Muslim women with proposed changes to a 1951 state law passed to unmasked the Ku Klux Klan, creating a backlash that prompted the Republican legislator to quickly discard the idea.

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The Rev. Christy Thomas: God extends grace to those who remarry

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: I am a born-again Christian. I love the Lord with all of my heart and mind and soul and strength. I am divorced. Can I ever, without losing my salvation, marry again?

DRC

Breaking bread

Steve Green, Hobby Lobby president, listens as he is introduced at a prayer breakfast Thursday. Members of the Denton business community held the event at the Gateway Center at the University of North Texas.

AP

City may appeal ruling on Ten Commandments monument

A federal appeals court has ruled that Bloomfield’s Ten Commandments monument violates the U.S. Constitution, but a lawyer for the northwestern New Mexico city says it may appeal the ruling.

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The Rev. Christy Thomas: Trip to Europe helps recognize our shallow roots

Dear Thoughtful Pastor: When you were in Europe recently, did you learn anything while seeing historic Christianity that would give you insight as to how it affects your understanding of the way Christianity is practiced in the U.S. today?