Christians Urge Boycott Of 'Beauty And The Beast' Over Openly Gay Character

Christians around the world are urging a boycott of Disney’s Beauty in the Beast for its inclusion of an openly gay character. On Wednesday, it was reported that Beauty and the Beast, starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens, would include an openly gay character, which is a first for a Disney movie. The character, LeFou is played by Josh Gad, and serves as Gaston’s, the villain of the movie, sidekick. An Alabama theater will not show “Beauty and the Beast” because of gay story line — Los Angeles Times (@latimes) March 4, 2017 “LeFou is somebody who on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston,” the film’s director Bill Condon said, according to Attitude Magazine. “He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively, gay moment in a Disney movie.” Although some feel that the LGBT inclusion is a big step for Disney, Christian leaders are now calling for a boycott of the film over Disney pushing an LGBT agenda. Beauty And The Beast gay character sparks Christian boycott calls — Nine Shaari (@carnine9) March 4, 2017 Franklin Graham, an evangelist from North Carolina, and the son of evangelist preacher Billy Graham, took to Facebook on Thursday to share his thoughts about the movie, and explained why Christians should not see it. “Disney has aired a cartoon with same-sex couples kissing,” Graham wrote in his post. “It has also been announced that their new movie Beauty and the Beast will feature a gay character in an attempt to normalize this lifestyle. They’re trying to push the LGBT agenda into the hearts and minds of your children—watch out!” “Disney has the right to make their cartoons, it’s a free country. But as Christians we also have the right not to support their company. I hope Christians everywhere will say no to Disney. I met Walt Disney when I was a young boy—he was very gracious to me, my father Billy Graham, and my younger brother when we visited. He would be shocked at what has happened to the company that he started.” At the end of Graham’s post, which has since been shared over 90,000 times, he asked his followers to leave comments to tell Disney what they think about their decision to include a gay character in their movie. Check out some of their comments below. “Im going to be sick,” one Facebook user wrote. “Perversion to destroy the minds of our children. Sorry no more Disney for me and my family. Wont be paying money to see anymore of the star wars franchise. The only way these disgusting people will listen is to take away their income and lifestyles.” Disney’s upcoming “Beauty and the Beast” will include an “exclusively gay moment” on screen, a first for the… — The Christian Post (@ChristianPost) March 3, 2017 “This is like spitting in God’s face, the people that is letting this happen will surely burn in the pit of HELL,” another Graham follower added. “What will happen to the children that will have this drilled in their brain.” Still, another user wrote: “There is a time and place and Disney needs to stay with movies like they always did in past. I dont have kids but hope any of my friends that di will Boycot these movies. I definitely wont be going and i sometimes watch them when come on TV but will not watch these.” You can watch the official Beauty and the Beast trailer below. What do you think about Disney including its first openly gay character in Beauty and the Beast? Will you be watching the film? Leave your comments below. [Featured Image by Jesse Grant/ Getty Images]

Ash Wednesday: Pope Francis's Service And Glitter In Place Of Ashes

Ash Wednesday this year has seen Pope Francis leading a service held in a Roman basilica, while other Catholics paved the way for a new kind of celebration of Lent by smudging glitter on the foreheads of the faithful instead of the more traditional ashes. Those who grew up Catholic will know that Ash Wednesday marks the start of Lent and this period ends after Easter. Catholic parishioners who attend Ash Wednesday services will have ashes daubed onto their foreheads to remind them of their mortality and the promise of another life in Jesus Christ. This Ash Wednesday, Pope Francis donned his purple vestments and took part in a procession in Rome which led to a 5th century church known as St. Sabina’s Basilica. Fox News reports that Pope Francis had his own spin on this year’s Ash Wednesday service. Catholics at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago celebrate Ash Wednesday on March 1, 2017. [Image by Scott Olson/Getty Images] The popular Pope told the faithful before him that his idea of Lent was “the time for saying no.” He suggested to fellow Catholics that one of the things they could work on during this season was the urge to indulge in “harsh and hasty criticism” of other people. Pope Francis also spoke this Ash Wednesday about the trivialization of life and superficiality, as Vatican Radio reported. “Lent is the time for saying no. No to the spiritual asphyxia born of the pollution caused by indifference, by thinking that other people’s lives are not my concern, and by every attempt to trivialize life, especially the lives of those whose flesh is burdened by so much superficiality. Lent means saying no to the toxic pollution of empty and meaningless words, of harsh and hasty criticism, of simplistic analyses that fail to grasp the complexity of problems, especially the problems of those who suffer the most. Lent is the time to say no to the asphyxia of a prayer that soothes our conscience, of an almsgiving that leaves us self-satisfied, of a fasting that makes us feel good.” Pope Francis ended his Ash Wednesday service by telling Catholics around the world that rather than focusing on the bad around them, they should instead try to create as much good in the world as possible and spoke of Lent as being an important time to practice compassion. As a lapsed Catholic, this is the progression I think the church needs. Also, come on, glitter ash for LGBT… — Matt Braunger (@Braunger) March 2, 2017 Ash Wednesday for others is being celebrated in some very non-traditional ways. The Los Angeles Times has described how in Iowa one priest is using purple glitter in place of ash on this Ash Wednesday. Peter Sickels repeated the saying, “Remember, oh man, you are dust and to dust you shall return” and was one of 150 religious figures across the United States who chose to give his support to the LGBT community by switching glitter for ash. “I love the concept of not just ashes but glitter for new hope and new life, and just standing up for minorities, for those who are incredibly in distress at these times.” The idea of using glitter instead of ash on Ash Wednesday began on this day last year when an Episcopal priest named Liz Edman wished that she was able to come out and show that she was a lesbian, but still also very much a Christian. While her girlfriend came up with the idea of using glitter, Edman was initially not sure about the idea. “Glitter is serious business for queer people. Glitter is how we have long made ourselves visible, even though becoming visible puts us at risk.” Pope Francis at Ash Wednesday services in Rome on March 1, 2017. [Image by Maurizio Brambatti/AP Images] Liz Edman changed her mind about using glitter on Ash Wednesday as soon as she read St. Augustine’s teachings on despair. The saint warned that giving in to despair could stop individuals from creating real change in their life, and Edman took his words to heart and decided that glitter could show others that they shouldn’t let themselves feel despair. Once Edman’s message got out, other religious leaders from different denominations also decided to take part. While traditionally a Catholic idea, other denominations also now have their own Ash Wednesday services and thought that using glitter instead of ashes would be a positive change while also sending a message of hope and support to the LGBT community at the same time. How did you spend Ash Wednesday and could you ever see Pope Francis one day using glitter instead of ashes to celebrate Lent? [Featured Image by Alessandra Tarantino/AP Images]

The History And Traditions Of Ash Wednesday

As you go about your business this Wednesday, you might find yourself asking, “Why have some people got soot on their foreheads?” This year, March 1, 2017 is an important day for people of the Catholic faith. This Wednesday is the day Catholics will celebrate “Ash Wednesday.” Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, a 40-day period of penance, fasting, and prayer. Traditionally, Catholics and some other observing Christian groups give up a vice as part of Lent. An example might be gambling, smoking, eating chocolate, drinking to excess, talking back to your parents, or recklessly flirting with the opposite sex. However, some choose to give up a favorite thing for the 40-day period. This is in anticipation of being able to have it again once Lent is over. Catholics and Christians celebrate Ash Wednesday. [Image by Franco Origlia/Getty Images] In this case, giving up a treat or another thing you enjoy represents a sacrifice, like the sacrifices that Jesus and God made for you. While giving up ice cream or video games is admittedly not on the same level as giving up food for 40 days and 40 nights, it would ideally strengthen the person’s appreciation for the Lord and their commitment to penance. It would make being able to partake in their hobby or enjoy their favorite treat again that much sweeter. Easter, the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, is at the end of Lent. So, after a long period of penance and prayer, Catholics celebrate with a feast and party at Easter. It is a welcome relief to the long period of deprivation that is Lent, after which Catholics and Christians feel, through the sacrifices, more ready to receive Christ into their hearts than ever before. Therefore, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, and Easter marks the end. So, what’s up with the dirt on people’s foreheads? A priests puts ash on a man’s forehead. [Image by John Moore/Getty Images] As you have probably guessed, the soot is ash (hence the name, Ash Wednesday), but you might not know where it comes from or what it symbolizes. The ash comes from ashes of palm fronds used on Palm Sunday the previous year and is applied to people’s foreheads by a priest. They symbolize penance and contrition. As the priest places the ashes on his disciple’s foreheads, he says, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” This is meant to humble the receiver and remind them that everyone that on earth dies. Therefore it is not appropriate to live your life in a selfish manner, squandering the gift that has been given to you by Christ. Alternatively the priest may say, “Repent and believe in the Gospel,” to remind his disciple’s that they are saved through the glory of God. These practices may seem stern to outsiders, but they help Catholics remain grounded in their faith. This ceremony has its origins in ages past, when Christians of ill repute had to perform penance for 40 days and nights and were turned out of the church. A bishop marked them with ashes, and after their long penance was up, they were allowed back in the church. Later, all Christians received the ashes as a sign of devotion. The practice continues to this day. So when you see someone with dirt on their forehead on Ash Wednesday, now you know that this person is a Christian who is prepared to give something up in order to more fully celebrate Christ’s resurrection at Easter. Everyone knows about Easter due to the marketing campaigns surrounding candy, so it’s good to remember that the holiday has a religious origin. When you see someone announcing their faith with a forehead smudge on Ash Wednesday, you can bet that Easter is going to be an important holiday for them, too. Now that you know, you might see the wisdom in giving something up yourself! [Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]

Ark Encounter: City Warned, Drops Trip Plans For Controversial Religious Site

The Ark Encounter theme park, a site that accompanies Ken Ham’s Creation Museum in using exhibits to promote a young-earth creationist worldview, has been under the eye of church-state separation watchdog group Freedom From Religion Foundation since before construction was completed. Concerns about the park, which depicts Noah’s Ark as Ham believes it might have been based in part on Biblical description, have included religious preference expressed in hiring, tax credits, and public school field trips. Now it seems the Ark Encounter and Creation Museum will be denied visits of another kind: group visits organized by local government groups. The Christiansburg, Virginia Parks and Recreation Department had arranged a three-day trip to Kentucky, visiting the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, along with an unnamed “mystery adventure.” Though the full trip information no longer appears on the city’s website, a search of the site still shows previews of the information. [Image by Christiansburg, VA Official Site] “Ark Encounter and Creation Museum Additional Info: 3-Day Amazing Wonders… : The Ark Encounter & The Creation Museum Petersburg, KY. Trip includes: round trip…, tickets to ‘The Creation Museum’, ‘The Ark Encounter’ and also, a ‘mystery adventure.’” The Roanoke Times ran further details of the Ark Encounter trip earlier this month. Aside from cost and deadlines (participants had until February 28 to sign up), the trip information includes a description of the Ark Encounter park as a way to “experience the pages of the Bible like never before.” Along with dioramas featuring what Noah’s family and living quarters might have looked like, the Ark Encounter includes exhibits showing caged dinosaurs on the Ark. Hey, what are you looking at? ???????????? A post shared by Ark Encounter (@arkencounter) on Sep 25, 2016 at 11:12am PDT However, the Freedom From Religion Foundation heard of the Ark Encounter trip through a concerned resident of the city, and Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel contacted Christiansburg Parks and Recreation director, Brad Epperly. The organization’s report explains. “FFRF urged the city to refrain from organizing an outing to such overtly religious sites.” “The Ark Encounter is a proudly Christian ministry run by the creationist Ken Ham, who also built the Creation Museum. Ham has been open about the proselytizing nature of his projects right since the beginning.” The letter praised efforts to organize family-friendly entertainment but suggested that the Ark Encounter fell outside the realm of entertainment appropriate for government involvement. “…advertising and organizing a trip to a Christian ministry constitutes government endorsement of religion and alienates those Christiansburg residents who are not Christian and who are non-religious.” The FFRF reports that legal counsel quickly responded [PDF] on behalf of the city, assuring that the Ark Encounter trip had been canceled and would soon be removed from the city website. Ken Ham, who is President of Answers in Genesis, the organization that operates both the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter theme park, is known for vocal advocacy for removing instruction about evolution from school curriculums, and for calling evolutionary biology a religious belief. Evolution is such a bankrupt religion, secularists legislate to protect it in the education system so they can impose this religion on kids — Ken Ham (@aigkenham) February 12, 2017 Creation vs Evolution is NOT religion vs science! It’s religion vs religion! It’s God’s historical science vs man’s historical science. — Ken Ham (@aigkenham) January 27, 2017 Recently, he described both evolutionary biology and descriptions of a millions-of-years-old Earth as “fake news.” Re talk about FAKE news, remember the two greatest FAKE NEWS items permeating the culture are molecules to man evolution & millions of years — Ken Ham (@aigkenham) February 11, 2017 When the FFRF warned public schools in Kentucky against visiting the Ark Encounter park, Ham responded by asserting that the First Amendment assured schools’ right to take field trips to the religious theme park. The First Amendment has been interpreted by courts in the past as forbidding government entities, including public schools, from engaging in activities that could be seen as showing a preference for one religion over another, or religion over nonreligion. Public schools are free to visit @ArkEncounter under 1st amendment for educational/recreational/historical purposes — Ken Ham (@aigkenham) July 13, 2016 [Image by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images] However, in this case, Ken Ham has as yet released no public comment about the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s request to the city of Christiansburg Virginia, or the decision by the city’s legal counsel to cancel the trip to the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter theme park. In a statement, FFRF co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor said the following. “The Ark Encounter and Creation Museum are Christian-themed hoaxes that no one should fall for, let alone a governmental body. We’re glad that we were able to open the eyes of Christiansburg officials.” [Featured Image by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images]