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'Leah Remini: Scientology': Ex-church members accuse David Miscavige of physical abuse

In the latest episode of “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath,” Leah Remini and Mike Rinder talked to individuals with formerly strong ties to the church who outlined how they were abused by the church and its leader.

Remini and Rinder talked to former members Jeff Hawkins, Tom DeVocht and Ron Miscavige, father of current leader David Miscavige, who shared shocking personal stories.

“[David] was a mean guy,” said Hawkins, who was a member of the church for three decades. “David Miscavige physically assaulted me five separate times.”

DeVocht, who was also a member of the church for three decades, shared how he forgot to get a permit to tear up the sidewalk outside of the Scientology headquarters in Florida. When he was asked if he had gotten it, he replied, “No,” and before he could say anything else, David Miscavige started attacking him.

>> Read more trending stories

“Before I could even think, he dove across the table, grabbed my [expletive] tie, and shoved it up. And I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t talk,” DeVocht said.

The church refuted DeVocht’s and Hawkins’ claims, writing in a statement, “Lying is nothing new for Hawkins, who has been a discredited anti-Scientology media source for years. His fabricated stories about having been a victim of violence as a staff member were debunked more than a decade ago.”

The church also refuted DeVocht’s claims and said that he is “a violent, admitted liar who left the church in 2005 following an investigation into his extensive waste of church funds. Compulsive lying permeates nearly every aspect of DeVocht’s life. To use him as a source is an indication of how tainted your program promises to be.”

David’s father, Ron Miscavige, a church member for 42 years who left in 2011, also made disturbing claims against the church, sharing that his departure from the church was planned out for six months because he feared what would happen when he did.

“If the word got out that we were planning on leaving, we would’ve been seized,” Ron Miscavige said. “My car keys would’ve been taken away. Becky and I would’ve been separated from each other, and we would’ve done manual labor throughout the day, and when we weren’t [doing] that, we’d be interrogated by an auditor.”

The church, once again, released a statement that attempted to paint Ron Miscavige in a bad light, writing that he has a “decade-long history of vicious domestic violence,” a “long history of anti-Semitic comments and actions” and a “shocking history of racist comments.”

A new episode of “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” airs on A&E on Tuesday, Dec. 27. Learn more about the show here.

WATCH: Boy 'rescues' Baby Jesus, Nativity scene from cold outdoors

Many people display Nativity scenes in their yard for the holiday season, but one boy was perplexed to see Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph out in the cold.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

>> Read more trending stories

A video posted last week by Rumble user Gregory Hogan shows the boy working for several minutes to carry the three statuettes to his front door. Then he brings them inside.

>> Click here to watch the heartwarming video

Source: Little boy unhappy that Baby Jesus & Family are out in the cold by gregoryhogan on Rumble

Jesus statue still standing after wildfire destroys Tennessee home

Not a day goes by that it doesn’t seem like more bad news comes from the ashes of the recent wildfires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. While numbers continue to rise, The Associated Press reports that 14 people are dead and 134 injured.

But one sight is giving some residents hope.

>> After wildfires, Dollywood worker finds lone, charred Bible page at park

According to CNN, a television crew was recently on the ground in Sevier County, where several homes burned to the ground. But the crew came across a statue of Jesus still standing among the ruins of a house.

The story touched country music singer Brad Paisley, who recently tweeted a link to the article with the simple words, "Finding some hope within the ashes."

>> Read more trending stories

This wasn't the only heavenly sight amid the rubble. A theme park employee said he found a charred Bible page while cleaning up the mostly spared Dollywood, whose very own Dolly Parton has pledged to financially help the families affected until they can begin to get back on their feet.

After wildfires, Dollywood worker finds lone, charred Bible page at park

After devastating wildfires blazed through Gatlinburg, Tennessee, a worker cleaning up Dollywood theme park in nearby Pigeon Forge found what he believes may be a sign from above – a sole, burned Bible page.

>> Dolly Parton grieves as wildfire tears through her Tennessee hometown

"I just found this while helping our House and Grounds team clean different areas of Dollywood Theme Park," Isaac McCord, a human resources training coordinator at the park, wrote Tuesday on Facebook. "It was under a bench soaking wet. Talk about goosebumps ..."

In light of recent events, the message from the first chapter of the Book of Joel hit home: "O Lord, to thee will I cry: For the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field."

>> See the Facebook post here

I just found this while helping our House and Grounds team clean different areas of Dollywood Theme Park. It was under a...Posted by Isaac McCord on Tuesday, November 29, 2016

According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, McCord, 24, showed the page to another employee, Misty Carver.

"We were like, 'This is unreal; this is unbelievable,'" McCord told the News-Sentinel. "When we had both fully read it, we looked at each other – and I will never forget this moment – we both burst into tears. I was ghost-white, and we just prayed. There was nothing else to do."

Two other workers who later saw the page confirmed McCord's story.

>> Read more trending stories

McCord said the discovery "is something I'll remember for the rest of my life."

"I wanted to share this message because I think that faith and hope is very powerful in a situation like this," he said. "There are hundreds of people that are displaced and that have lost their homes. Most of these people will cling to faith."

>> Gatlinburg aquarium: 'Animals are safe' after devastating Tennessee wildfires

Read more here.

Posted by Isaac McCord on Friday, August 19, 2016

Researchers excavate Jesus' tomb

Archeologists and restoration teams are getting to the innermost chamber of the tomb that held Jesus. 

Many thought the cave where the faithful laid Jesus' body after he was taken down from the crucifix was destroyed ages ago, but after digging through marble and using ground-penetrating radar, an archeologist confirmed that the cave existed, The Associated Press reported.

"We can't say 100 percent, but it appears to be visible proof that the location of the tomb has not shifted through time, something that scientists and historians have wondered for decades." Fredrik Hiebert, National Geographic's archaeologist-in-residence said.

"This is the Holy Rock that has been revered for centuries, but only now can actually be seen," Antonia Moropoulou said. Moropoulou is in charge of the conservation and restoration of the Edicule, the chamber that houses the cave where Jesus was entombed and and believed by Christians to be resurrected, now under the Church of the Holy Sepluchre

The church dates back to the 12th century and sits on top of 4th-century remains. Six different Christian denominations practice their faith at the same site.

>> Read more trending stories  

The Edicule was last restored in 1810 after a fire. Now it is in need of reinforcement after exposure to humidity and candle smoke, The AP reported.

It was reinforced in 1947 by a British team using an iron cage built around the cave, but it is not enough.

This week, workers slid open a marble slab hoping to reach the chamber itself. The marble hadn't been moved since 1550. Under that, they found debris and another slab. That slab dates to the 12th century and covered another layer, National Geographic reported.

<iframe width="615"height="346" src="//assets.ngeo.com/modules-video/latest/assets/ngsEmbeddedVideo.html?guid=00000158-03a5-d936-ab7c-7fe763f00000" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen></iframe>

The team had a total of 60 hours to excavate the inner tomb. It was closed after being fully documented, resealed in the original marble, National Geographic reported.

One part of the tomb will be visible to pilgrims. Experts cut a window in one of the Edicule's marble walls to they can see part of the limestone wall of the tomb. It is the first time the faithful can glimpse the tomb, The AP reported.

National Geographic documented the site on video. 

Read more on the discovery here and here.

Bishop Eddie Long tells church that God healed him

Lithonia megachurch pastor Bishop Eddie L. Long told his congregation during a service earlier this month that God had healed him.

“I’ve been on a journey and just recalibrating myself,” Long said in the video, which was posted on YouTube on Oct. 16 by Miz Justice. “And like I said, I had some health issues and God has healed me. The manifestation is coming through and we stand in that.”

Long, the pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, recently disclosed that he was recovering from an undisclosed health challenge. Many had speculated he was ill after he posted a video in August that showed him looking very gaunt.

It’s unclear from the YouTube video whether Long is saying he is healed physically or it’s a spiritual or emotional healing. In the comment section, Miz Justice said the video was taken on Oct. 9 during his anniversary service.

The Christian Post reported Long had been on a monthlong sabbatical.

A New Birth spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.

Long celebrated his pastoral anniversary this month and also led a three-day summit with speakers from around the world, including New Zealand and the Bahamas.

In the service, Long told members that God woke him up that morning and expressed to him that some in the congregation suffered from chronic pain. “You have to be controlled by painkillers,” he said. He asked those who were to move into the aisle. “There’s a healing balm in here.”

He then asked them to come up to the altar and asked for his oil and began a healing service.

In the August video, a much slimmer Long is shown working out.

“People are asking, ‘Bishop, what happened to all of you?’” he says in the video, posted to his public Facebook page. “Well, all of me has meelllllted away.”

In the video, he told members that eating a mostly raw diet has given him more energy and lowered his blood pressure. He has lost weight and no longer has to take blood pressure medication.

“I’m on the medicine that God gave you to feed your immune system to build you up,” he says in the clip. “You know what, if you really want to move through this world and have influence, you gotta be spiritual and you have to walk by his commandments and you have to be healthy.”

Related:

WATCH: Man's video of heavenly sight in clouds goes viral

A South Carolina man's video of a heavenly figure in the sky is going viral.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

According to "Today," Cory Hearon, 37, captured a Facebook Live video of a cloud that resembles an angel hovering over the city of Camden. 

>> Read more trending stories

"I almost didn't video it," Hearon said. "It was the first time I had seen something that remarkable with my own two eyes."

The clip has been shared more than 260,000 times and has more than 7.5 million views. 

Read more here.

>> Click here to watch

<script>(function(d, s, id) {</span><br /><span>  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];</span><br /><span>  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;</span><br /><span>  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;</span><br /><span>  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.8";</span><br /><span>  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);</span><br /><span>}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script> AngelPosted by Cory Hearon on Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The religious economy is worth $1.2 trillion

How much is religion worth?

The answer is more than megacompanies Apple and Microsoft make in a year combined.

recent study of the U.S. faith economy found religious goods, services and institutions are worth $1.2 trillion a year.

>> Read more trending stories  

Religion might affect America's economy more than you realize. Congregations alone employ hundreds of thousands of people and purchase billions of dollars in goods.

Faith-based elementary schools receive over $15 billion in tuition annually, and that doesn't include middle schools or high schools.

Kosher and halal food sales account for almost another $15 billion. The study's authors didn't include holiday-centered food sales, either, like your usual Christmas dinner menu. That would dramatically increase the faith economy's worth.

Religious health care networks also bring in over $160 billion each year.

Plus, 20 of America's 50 largest charities are faith-based -- accounting for another $45 billion.

The researchers acknowledged their $1.2 trillion estimate is actually a conservative one. Their figure didn't account for the value of religious groups' physical or financial assets, which could make the estimate significantly bigger.

Boy thinks pastor is taking too long, baptizes himself

A Kentucky boy wasn't waiting for anyone during his baptismal ceremony Sunday.

Jordan Warrick, 6, apparently thought the pastor at the West End Baptist Church was taking too long for the big event so he took matters into his own hands.

>> Read more trending stories  

Jordan baptized himself in the church's baptismal pool and the event was caught on video and posted to Facebook where it has nearly 5 million views.

My son gave his life to Jesus today.                     For licsensing inquiries please contact licensing@junkinmedia.comPosted by Terence D Warrick on Sunday, September 4, 2016

He first waded into the chilly water before calling out to the congregation "I'll do it." He then dunked himself, coming up out of the water with raised arms and heading to get dried off, the Courier-Journal reported.

Jordan is active in his church. He sings in the children's choir and is a junior usher. He was also the one who decided he was ready to be baptized. His aunt told the Courier-Journal that Jordan wants to be a missionary and spread the word of Christ.

Norway's state church loses 25,000 members

Norway saw a mass exodus of religious membership when more than 25,000 people left the state church in less than three weeks.

>> Read more trending stories  

The exodus happened after The Church of Norway enabled a new online option Aug. 12 that allows citizen to join and leave the church electronically.

More than 10,000 people deregistered within 24 hours of the site's launch, and within four days, more than 15,000 had left, the Independent reported.

"The number of withdrawals must be seen in relation to the large number of members of the Norwegian Church," Helga Haugland Byfuglien, head of the Norwegian Bishops' Conference, said in a statement on the church's website. "We have great respect for individual choice."

 About 1,200 new members joined online in the same time period.

"No one who doesn't wish to be a member of the Church of Norway should be registered as a member," said Kristin Gunleiksrud Raaum, leader of the church's national council. "I'm very happy that almost 1,300 chose to join in August."

The electronic offering was put in place as a way for the church to get its "records in shape and offer an easy way for people to sign up," the Independent reported.

"We will continue to have a broad and open national church. But no one should be a member of a religious community against their will, and therefore I am glad that this self-solution is in place," Raaum said. "Those who mistakenly listed as a member of the Norwegian Church or who do not wish to be members can now easily change their status, and it will give us a more accurate registry."

About 73 percent of the population counted as members of the Church of Norway in 2015, according to the AP, but a significant portion of those people may have been among those who deregistered this year.

The AP reported that the country is among the most secular countries in the world, and a recent survey of 4,000 Norwegians showed this year that non-believers outnumber religious people with 39 percent saying they didn't belive in God, 37 percent saying they did and an additional 23 percent of respondents saying they did not know, The Local reported.

Norway, which previously required at least half of all government ministers to be members of the Church, did away with the Evangelical Lutheran religion as the official state religion in 2012, but the country maintains a constitution built upon "Christian and humanistic heritage," and the king is required to be Lutheran.

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