Presbyterians take aim at slavery conditions in farmfields

In 2011, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers launched the Fair Food Program, which encourages large retailers – fast food restaurants; supermarkets – to pay one cent more per pound of tomatoes picked. If every commercial purchaser did so, it would double farmworkers' salaries, according to the International Labor Organization. The Fair Food Program also calls for people to boycott purchases from farms that violate human rights.

Photo: The Fair Food Program attempts to end child labor, harsh conditions and sexual exploitation among farmworkers through appealing to commercial giants like Wendy's and McDonald's. Photo: COALITION OF IMMOKALEE WORKERS

Headline News

Church of England first woman bishop appointed

The Church of England announced the appointment of its first female bishop this week. Reverend Libby Lane, a 48-year-old parish priest from Hale and mother of two, will become the next Bishop of Stockport in Greater Manchester, according to reports.

Pastor dies in pulpit singing Pharrell's 'Happy'

Pastor Gordon A. Humphrey Jr. of United Ministries passed away while preaching at the pulpit this Sunday, according to reports. The 60-year-old pastor was ministering at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago and singing Pharrell's hit song "Happy" when he suddenly collapsed.

Dr. Ben Carson visits Israel, could hint of possible presidential run

Dr. Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon and potential Republican candidate for president in 2016, is on his first trip to Israel, reportedly to better understand relationships in the Middle East. Carson, 63, has not officially announced he is running for the Oval Office, but in recent history conservative candidates have visited the Holy Land as an international first step.

Florida attorney general asks Supreme Court to stay same-sex marriages

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi has applied for a stay with the U.S. Supreme Court to continue to block same-sex marriages in the state while it pursues an appeal of the ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida which ordered a county clerk to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, temporarily stayed the order, then declined to extend the stay after it expires Jan. 5, 2015.

Baptists defend Atlanta fire chief

Georgia Baptist Convention leaders came to the defense of Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran by urging the Christian community to take a stand after he was suspended for 30-days without pay and ordered to undergo sensitivity training -- for expressing his belief that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Georgia mother threatens lawsuit because of Bibles in school

An offer of free Bibles to students at Cloverleaf Elementary School in Cartersville, Georgia, has caused one mom to threaten a lawsuit. Jessica Greene's son, a fifth grade student, went with classmates and picked up a copy from a Gideon volunteer in the library, causing her shock "that the school system would do that," she told WXIA-TV in Atlanta.

Craig Wayne Boyd wins The Voice after leaving his fate to God

Craig Wayne Boyd's trip from Texas to Tennessee in 2000 was likely an 11-hour drive to Music City, but his 11-year journey to arrive center stage on the music scene finally reached its destination when he walked away champion of NBC's "The Voice" Tuesday night.

Pew survey finds Christmas story no fairy tale after all

Atheists trying to make their mark across southern states with billboards that mock Christianity as a fairy tale face disappointing statistics this week revealing that most adult Americans -- 73 percent to be exact -- see the story of the virgin birth of Jesus as historical fact, not fiction.

College enrollment numbers drop again

Information released by the National Student Clearinghouse, which polls colleges and universities, showed the number of students attending full-time and part time study at all post-secondary schools combined fell for the third straight year, dropping about 1.3 percent in 2014.

Camille Cosby defends husband, Bill, suggests he's the victim

Bill Cosby's wife, Camille, came to his defense for the first time since the multiple accusations surfaced claiming that the acclaimed African-American comedian had drugged and sexually assaulted women over decades. On Monday, Mrs. Cosby described her husband as a "kind man" and said he was a victim of unsubstantiated stories and superficial reporting.

Jeb Bush 'explores' 2016 Oval Office run; courting evangelicals

Jeb Bush is exploring a possible run for president of the United States in 2016, the former Florida governor announced Tuesday. The politician and brother of former President George W. Bush said he decided after consulting with his family over the Thanksgiving holiday. He previously has met with Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, which promotes religious liberty and interprets for the public what Southern Baptists have spoken to about moral and social issues.

Modesty advocate: New fashion doll figures to challenge Mattel's Barbie

Nickalay Lamm started a research project to study how fashion dolls distort women's body proportions -- and his idea has translated into a new toy that figures to challenge Mattel's message about body image portrayed through its Barbie doll. His invention has realistic proportions and offers young girls a real-life alternative for play.

Widow's gift in Salvation Army kettle more than a 'mite' for needy kids

A widow put more than a "mite" into a Salvation Army red kettle in Boston, Mass., dropping in a wedding band and engagement ring valued at $1,850. But another widow redeemed the items for more than "10 times" their worth with the desire to return both to the donor. Both widows wanted to do something for needy children and to honor their late husbands.

Tebow hospital in Philippines an early Christmas gift

While some kids are waiting to see what Santa brings for Christmas, children with a cleft palate, clubfoot, or bowed legs and other congenital abnormalities in the Philippines are blessed this Christmas with the opening of the Tebow CURE Hospital in Davao City.

Heisman winner Mariota: 'God bless and go Ducks'

Marcus Mariota, winner of the 80th award of the Heisman Trophy, was humble and grateful in accepting recognition as the top player in college football for 2014, finishing his speech with a simple, "God bless and go Ducks."

Gospel singer: 'No excuses' for addiction, just thanks for new start

When Christian vocalist Joseph Habedank resigned from his ten-year role as lead singer for The Perrys in 2013 to address his addiction to prescription pain medication, "There was so much uncertainty in so many areas," his wife Lindsay said. But after completing a treatment program and experiencing sobriety for more than 550 days, Joseph reports having more joy and freedom than ever before.

Donors asked to step up for children left behind by Tampa Bay murders

Hearts have been touched by the 10 children whose parents were involved in a tragic triple murder involving a Southern Baptist pastor in the Tampa Bay area yesterday, and $3,385 already has been raised at gofundme.com. A Jacksonville church also has set up an emergency fund account for the pastor's family. James "Tripp" Battle, 31, pastor of Bayshore Baptist Church in Bradenton, Florida, was shot to death in a courtyard at the church, while Amber Avalos, 32, and her neighbor, Denise Potter, 46, were shot at the Avalos home.

RACE RELATIONS & POLICING ISSUES

Garner's daughter: 'Not a black & white issue'

Eric Garner's daughter insists the case involving her father's death is not about race, but a matter of an overzealous policeman. In an interview on CNN, Erica Garner told anchor Don Lemon that her father's death was not "a black and white issue" but that it was a crisis. Her father, a black man, died while being subdued for allegedly selling cigarettes in front of businesses in Tompkinsville on Staten Island in New York. Daniel Pantaleo, a white officer, used a chokehold from behind to take down Garner.

NYPD chokehold death -- high profile Southern Baptists outraged at government & police

A Staten Island, New York, grand jury announcement, Dec. 3, that there would be no indictment of Daniel Pantaleo, a white officer, in the death of Eric Garner, a black man, brought cries of protest in New York and around the country. But Southern Baptist ethicist Russell Moore and seminary president Albert Mohler also expressed outrage, questioning the legal process and police motives.

Houston pastor rejects 'post-modern' SBC responses to Ferguson riots

Randy White, pastor of First Baptist Church in Katy, Texas, is a leader among Houston pastors seeking justice against the city for denying voters' petitions demanding a ballot initiative about a transsexuals' rights bill. Now he is taking on some Southern Baptist leaders for what he describes as their "post-modern response" to the riots in Ferguson. White said they are among "ever-more-left-leaning evangelicals" who are telling others not to rush to judgment about the crimes or the criminals.

FEATURES

'Knock on doors & win souls'

When Pastor Rodney Keith took the helm of a troubled north Jacksonville congregation he knew only one way to bring it back to life—the tried and true old-fashioned way. He seized a back-to-basics strategy instilled by Southern Baptist traditionalists Homer Lindsay and Jerry Vines, former pastors of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, where Keith was a long-time member.

70,000 synchronized lights attract up to 9,000 cans of food for local charity

Around 7,000 to 9,000 people will give just one can of food to see a 70,000 string synchronized light show tuned to the songs of the season this year at Pine Forest Baptist Church in Vidor. Since 2009, the folks there have produced a 12 nights of the holiday season that includes a near-life-size Christmas train, sacred music, a bonfire, hot chocolate, hot cider, s'mores and free pictures with Santa Claus. Most families give a can of food when they come, and in return they receive candy canes and treats for their canine friends.

WAR ON CHRISTMAS

Atheists play Grinch with 'Christmas' billboards

Atheist groups are stepping up their attacks this holiday season, with one taking the fight to the Bible Belt using a billboard campaign meant to mock the religious nature of Christmas. The New Jersey-based American Atheists is targeting cities across the South with the anti-Christian message on signs in residential areas near schools and churches.

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