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Stephen Colbert's joyful faith

Stephen Colbert and David Letterman take a selfie(Credit: CBS) Stephen Colbert sat down for an interview with David Letterman this week.  What made their conversation front-page news?  The fact that Colbert will take over the Late Show when Letterman retires next year.  Colbert read his own "Top Ten" list and confessed that Letterman had been his idol since his college days.  He was offered a job as an intern with Letterman's show in 1986, but turned it down.  "Why is that?" Letterman asked.  "Because you did not pay people," Colbert explained.  Then he added, "The next job I'm taking here, it pays, right?"

Colbert is currently star of The Colbert Report and one of America's funniest personalities, but there's more to his story than most television viewers know.  His father and two brothers were killed in a plane crash when he was 10 years old, and he was raised primarily by his mother.  Her faith marked him for life.  He teaches Sunday school and attends mass regularly with his family.

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Lawsuit seeks to ban Pledge of Allegiance

Fairmeadow Elementary School students recite the Pledge of Allegiance during a school assembly in Palo Alto (Credit: AP/Paul Sakuma) The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by a minister named Francis Bellamy.  He supported the schoolhouse flag movement, which sought to place a flag above every school in the nation.  Responding to the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' landing in the Americas, Bellamy wrote his pledge to the flag for Columbus Day celebrations to be held around the country.

In 1954, President Dwight Eisenhower asked Congress to add the words "under God" in response to the atheistic Communist threat of the day.  For the last 50 years, school children across the land have pledged allegiance "to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

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Is Putin another Hitler?

Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the Federal Assembly, including State Duma deputies, members of the Federation Council, regional governors and civil society representatives, at the Kremlin in Moscow March 18, 2014 (Credit: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov) Paul Johnson, writing for Forbes, makes a frightening comparison between Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Adolf Hitler.  He points out that prior to World War II, Hitler sent German forces into the Rhineland (then a country west of Germany), then into German-speaking Austria, and then into the Sudetenland (areas of what was then Czechoslovakia).  

Hitler claimed that he was only honoring the wishes of German-speaking peoples who wanted to be part of his Third Reich.  Similarly, Putin claims that his incursion into Crimea came at the request of Russians there. Observers worry that he will do the same in Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

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Will Jesus return in the next 18 months?

A view of the most recent 'blood moon' total lunar eclipse as seen over Mexico City, which NASA has confirmed as the first of four consecutive total lunar eclipses that will occur in 2014 and 2015, April 15, 2014 (Credit: Reuters/Edgard Garrido) Last week's lunar eclipse produced a "blood moon" as the sun's rays were refracted by Earth's atmosphere and turned the moon a reddish hue.  It was the first of four blood moons to come, a phenomenon known as a "tetrad."  Last week's event fell on Passover.  The next will be on October 8, the Feast of Tabernacles; then on April 4, Passover in 2015; then on September 28, another Feast of Tabernacles.

A host of books has been published on this phenomenon, all claiming that something historic will happen in the next 18 months.  Some predict war in the Middle East; others predict the return of Christ.  However, NASA tells us there will be seven more sets of tetrads before the year 2100.  That's 32 blood moons in all.

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Obama attorneys will defend cross atop California memorial

People gather in the late evening sun around the massive cross sitting atop the Mt. Soledad War Memorial in La Jolla, California on December 12, 2013 (Credit: Reuters/Sandy Huffaker) The Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial in San Diego, California was constructed in 1954 to honor Korean War veterans.  The large cross atop the memorial has been the subject of controversy for 25 years.  Critics claim that it violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, prohibiting the government from preferring one religion over another.  Now the Justice Department has surprised some observers by serving notice that it will defend the cross as "an appropriate memorial to our nation's veterans."

The cross has been controversial for 20 centuries.  What actually happened on this Good Friday at a place called Golgotha?  Consider the first-century non-biblical records.  We know from Roman historian Tacitus that "Christus . . . suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus" (Annals XV.44).  We know from Jewish historian Josephus how he died: "Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross" (Antiquities 18.3.3).

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