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Police: Florida man torched church to get at 'devil worshipers'

After allegedly attempting to set fire to Westgate New Testament Church in Florida on Thursday morning, Hector Luis Trujillo told a sheriff’s deputy that he wanted to make a confession.

“I started the fire because the church has bad people — they are devil worshipers — (and) I had to do something,” Trujillo said, according to an arrest report.

Trujillo remains in the Palm Beach County Jail, where he is facing charges of first-degree arson and burglary resulting in more than $1,000 of damage. Judge Caroline Shepherd ordered Trujillo, who is homeless, to undergo a mental-health evaluation.

Cheri Frost has been a congregant at the church — which holds services in Spanish and English — for two years and was married there. On Friday morning, Frost surveyed in disbelief the damage that ruined a nursery and Sunday school on the first floor of the two-floor building.

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“We’re devastated,” Frost said. “This is for the kids. How do you explain to the children that someone came into their safe environment, God’s house, and did something like this?”

A man driving by the church Thursday morning witnessed Trujillo standing outside the nursery and throwing a flaming object inside. The witness dialed 911 and followed Trujillo until deputies arrested him while he was hiding outside a home on the 2600 block of Hiwatha Avenue, along Osceola Drive and near West Gate Elementary School.

Residents whose homes border the church  ran over and helped put out two fires that were set by Trujillo, according to a church official.

Sergio Fuentes, minister for Westgate’s Spanish-language congregation, said Trujillo is unknown to members of the church.

“It’s sad that something so dark could be in somebody’s heart,” said Fuentes, who has ministered at the church for nine years. “We’re trying to help the community. There’s a way to find solutions to the troubles in one’s life, but violence and destruction are certainly not among them.”

Fuentes said one of the fires was set by stacking books used for Sunday school in a pile and setting them on fire. The arrest report estimated damage to be at least $1,500, but Fuentes said it could end up being far costlier.

Between its Spanish- and English-language congregations, the church has about 80 members.

“We’re a small congregation with very limited means,” Frost said. “We’re all going to have to come together.”

The church has been targeted before, Fuentes said. Last Halloween night, someone broke in and stole $8,000 worth of musical instruments and equipment. Church employees and congregants have had their cars broken into as well, Fuentes said.

“This community has been left behind,” Fuentes said. “That’s why these things are happening.”

Court records show that Trujillo, 24, has been arrested eight times in Palm Beach County since 2011. He was sentenced to 28 days in jail in May 2014 after being found guilty of battery, possession of cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

“We don’t harbor any ill will towards him,” Frost said. “We’re a loving church. We want him to get help. We don’t hate him. Who are we to judge?”

Church plans to use drones to drop thousands of Bibles in the Middle East

Video includes clips and images from Livets Ord, and an image from Getty Images. Music provided courtesy of APM Music.

An evangelical church in Sweden is looking to convert Muslims in the Middle East to Christianity, and it's planning to use military drones to do so.

The Livets Ord church, whose name translates to "Word of Life," announced this week it's going to use the drones to release thousands of small, electronic Bibles into closed areas in the Middle East.

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The church's mission director told local news station SVT the Bibles are the size of pill boxes and don't require any electricity to work.

They'll reportedly be dropped from a high altitude by a contractor hired by the church.

Since the announcement, Livets Ord's project has faced criticism from several media outlets for attempting an "attack" of sorts on ISIS.

But the church's senior pastor said in a blog post: "This is not a political statement, nor a spiritual counter attack on terrorism. What we want is to make the message of God's love available to people who need it more than most."

It's unclear if the church or its contractor would need security clearance to carry out the Bible drops. Livets Ord said it hopes to begin the mission in the next few weeks.

Pope Francis criticized for not accepting transgender community

Pope Francis is known as one of the most progressive popes, but he apparently has his limits.

The Vatican published some closed-door remarks from the pope where he touched on gender identity. Francis said he was dismayed by the growing acceptance of transgender people, calling it "terrible."

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He said, in part, "Today, in schools they are teaching this to children — to children — that everyone can choose their gender."

Francis railed against what he called "ideological colonizing" in "very influential countries." He blamed textbooks financed by wealthy people and institutions for the societal changes, though he declined to specifically name any countries, people or institutions.

Francis said his predecessor, Pope Benedict, said a society that accepts transgender people is "the epoch of sin against God the Creator. He's intelligent! God created man and woman, God created the world this way, this way, this way, and we are doing the opposite."

Though he clearly doesn't approve of every letter, Francis has by far been the most LGBTQ-friendly pope in recent memory. He's also been more open to women in the church.

When asked about homosexuality, Francis said, "Who am I to judge?" He also said he was open to divorcees who remarry without an annulment to receive communion. But he still officially opposes divorce and same-sex marriage.

The pope's remarks drew criticism from rights groups. As spokeswoman for The Human Rights Campaign said, "It is deeply [disappointing] that so soon after his healing apology to LGBTQ Catholics regarding their treatment the church, Pope Francis would choose to deny the very humanity of transgender people, including children."

This video includes clips from Centro Televisivo Vaticano and images from Getty Images.

The silence was deafening when Pope Francis visited Auschwitz

Pope Francis visited Auschwitz on Friday to pay his respects to the thousands of people who lost their lives there during World War II.

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He spent most of the historic visit at the former Nazi concentration camp in silent prayer and reflection.

Soon after his arrival, the pope sat alone on a bench for several minutes with his eyes closed.

Then, after meeting with a group of former inmates of the camp, he spent several more quiet moments inside the cell of Maximilian Kolbe. He was a Franciscan priest and saint who volunteered to take the place of a prisoner who was condemned to die.

Ahead of the trip, Pope Francis said he wanted it to be in silence.

He told reporters earlier this month: "I would like to go to that place of horror without speeches, without crowds — only the few people necessary. Alone, enter, pray. And may the Lord give me the grace to cry."

But before he left Auschwitz, the pope wrote a brief message in the memorial book.

"Lord, have mercy on your people. Lord, forgive us for so much cruelty."

Pope Francis is the third consecutive pope to visit the site, where more than 1 million people, mostly Jews, were killed by Adolf Hitler's forces during World War II.

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Cross taken from man making cross-country pilgrimage

A man who is making a cross-country pilgrimage to strengthen his faith has come upon a difficult situation.

The cross that Mitchell Manning has been dragging on his trek between Florida and California has been taken, KCBD reported.

Manning, who is from Tennessee started his quest in Jacksonville, Florida, in October and so far he has made it to Texas, but his trip has been delayed in Seminole, Texas.

The 12-foot symbol of his faith was taken over the weekend and he said he will not continue his walk until he finds it or rebuilds one.

Posted by Cross Walk America on Monday, November 9, 2015

He left it in a ditch Sunday when he was offered a place to stay. 

"The cross is so big, it's hard to carry even if you have a truck, so I've always just left it on the side of the road in the grass," Manning told KCBD.

Manning camps some nights during the trip, other nights he either stays in a stranger's home or someone pays for a hotel room. 

He has reached out on Facebook about the missing cross, asking for any information as to its location.

I left my cross at the park in Seminole TX Sunday, it is missing now. I checked with TxDOT and they said they didn't move it. I may have to build another one. If  anyone has seen it, please message me.Posted by Cross Walk America on Tuesday, July 12, 2016

If you would like to keep track of Manning's quest, see below, or click here. You can also follow him on his Facebook page.

Massive $91 million Noah's Ark replica to open

Mom captures touching moment when her 6-year-old son prays with police officers

Kelly Garza may have had one of the proudest mommy moments ever after seeing her 6-year-old son, Joshua, leading a prayer with three police officers.

>> Click here to see the Facebook post

<script>(function(d, s, id) {<br />  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];<br />  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;<br />  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;<br />  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.6";<br />  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);<br />}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script>My sweet boy prayed over these officers, for safety and thanked them for their service. #BobEvans #ThankYou #BloodandBluePosted by Kelly R. Garza on Monday, June 20, 2016

Garza and Joshua had just finished eating breakfast at a Bob Evans in St. Petersburg, Florida. On their way out, her little boy confidently approached the police officers and held their hands as he sat at the end of the table.

“My sweet boy prayed over these officers for safety and thanked them for their service,” she wrote on her Facebook account.

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She took a picture as her son sat at the end of the table, holding the police officers’ hands and praying as he was taught.

“Joshua is being brought up in a very loving church, where he has learned that it’s OK to share his faith and that it’s an act of love to pray for others,” she wrote.

The St. Petersburg Police Department also shared the photo on Facebook.

>> Click here to see the post

Officer Williams, Officer Blackshear and Officer Mitchell were honored to pray with this young man this morning.Posted by St. Petersburg Police Department on Tuesday, June 21, 2016

“Officer Williams, Officer Blackshear and Officer Mitchell were honored to pray with this young man this morning,” it read.

Lady Gaga banned in China after meeting with Dalai Lama

A meeting with the Dalai Lama and a few pictures on social media might have negatively affected Lady Gaga's stardom in China. 

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The pop star met with the leader of the Buddhist faith on Sunday while he was speaking in Indiana.

"Hope is essential to keep the world going." - His Holiness the Dalai Lama #withcompassion #usmc2016 #kindyouth A photo posted by Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) on Jun 26, 2016 at 7:30am PDT <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script>

Before the meeting, Gaga was arguably one of the most popular Western musicians in mainland China. But after she shared photos of herself and the Dalai Lama on Instagram, her account was flooded with negative comments. 

One user posted: "The way the Chinese feel is just like you were shaking hands with (Osama) bin Laden." Another wrote: "This is proof that she can love and respect a Chinese terrorist. She fundamentally looks down on Chinese fans, and even all Chinese people." 

A day after the meeting, the Communist Party banned all of Lady Gaga's music in mainland China. The singer herself has also been barred from the country. 

In 1959, the Dalai Lama fled the Chinese region of Tibet after a failed uprising against the Communist party. The government still considers him a separatist who is aiming to break Tibet away from China. 

Lady Gaga joins other Western celebrities like Richard Gere, Bon Jovi, Maroon 5 and Selena Gomez, who have all had concerts, appearances or their work banned because of interactions with the Dalai Lama. 

A photo posted by Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) on Jun 26, 2016 at 4:02pm PDT <script async defer src="//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js"></script>

But the apparent negative reaction to Lady Gaga's meeting may be a little skewed. As the BBC notes, several users who shared Gaga's posts were censored, and many had to get around a Chinese firewall to find out why Gaga met with the spiritual leader. 

Lady Gaga's music has been banned before. The Chinese government previously banned her material because it had deemed her too risqué.

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This video includes clips from Universal International / "Bad Romance," Fox NewsFacebook / Lady Gaga and the Indianapolis Star, and images from Getty Images and Instagram / ladygaga

Evangelical leader claims Trump has accepted Christ

According to one leading evangelical figure, Donald Trump has found religion.

Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, told Michael Anthony of Godfactor that Trump recently developed and accepted a relationship with Jesus Christ.

The interview took place Tuesday in New York, during the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's private event with evangelical leaders.

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Dobson said in the interview that evangelicals need to cut Trump some slack because he didn’t grow up with religion as they did. He also said of Trump, “He’s a nicer guy than you realize.”

According to exit polls, Trump fared well with evangelical voters during the primary season, despite questions about his faith.

Dobson encouraged everyone to pray for Trump.

California pastor supports Orlando massacre: 'They deserve what they got'

A California pastor said the nearly 100 people who were killed and injured in Orlando during a massacre at Pulse nightclub "deserve what they got."

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Forty-nine people died at Sunday morning when Omar Mateen, 29, stormed a popular LGBT venue and engaged in a shootout. Another 53 people were injured. 

Pastor Roger Jimenez of Verity Baptist Church in Sacramento, California, responded to the incident by delivering a sermon in which he expressed support for the tragedy.

"You don't mourn the death of them. They deserve what they got. You reap what you sow. But we don't advocate it either. We're not calling people to arms, and if somebody goes out and says I'm going to go kill sodomites, you don't listen to those people. That's not what we're saying."

Jimenez went as far as comparing the homosexual victims of the shootings to pedophiles and told his congregation they do not need to mourn the loss of the deceased.

"Are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today?" Jimenez asked in the sermon, which was later uploaded to YouTube. "Um, no. I think that’s great. I think that helps society. I think Orlando, Florida, is a little safer tonight. The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die. The tragedy is I’m kind of upset he didn’t finish the job because these people are predators. They are abusers."

Mateen was the 50th person who died during the massacre.

Jimenez continued by saying that he believes the government should "round them all up" and kill members of the LGBT community.

YouTube removed the video of the sermon stating it had been deleted for violating the company's policy on hate speech.

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