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All The “Black Widow” Characters That You Need To Know Before Watching The Movie

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After waiting for more than a year, fans shall now be able to dive into the past of Black Widow which has been teased in some MCU movies.

NBC / youtube.com

What was first launched as a spoof shall now be a reality soon. SNL first came up with a Black Widow movie “trailer” in 2016 and apparently someone at Marvel thought, “Hey! Let’s do this”. 

So, ahead of the film’s release, we are going to equip you with all the information that you need to understand and enjoy the Black Widow movie. Here’s what you should know:

1. Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow

Marvel Studios / Via youtube.com

Played by Scarlett Johansson, our titular protagonist, Natalia Alianovna Romanova aka Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow, has donned many mantles from time to time. Before she died in Endgame, she had already been a founding member of the Avengers (first female Avenger), a S.H.I.E.L.D. spy, and a KGB spy and assassin. Famed for her mental toughness, grit, manipulation and sublime combat skills, she can hold her own against most of the superheroes and super villains.

She was born in the former USSR.

Marvel Studios / Via youtube.com

The childhood of Natalia is a higgledy-piggledy glop. According to one version her mother died in the Battle of Stalingrad making her an orphan. A man called Ivan Petrovitch rescued her during the battle and took her under his care. He became a father figure to her and personally trained her to be a loyal solider of the USSR. In another version, she was kidnapped in 1941 by The Hand who wanted to turn her into an accomplished assassin. But guess who rescued her? Logan (Wolverine) and Steve Rogers (Captain America) along with Ivan Petrovitch. In yet another version she was enrolled into the Black Widow program as a child by Stalin himself and got her training in the infamous Red Room (where she first met the Winter Soldier).  

Red Room training

Marvel Studios

In the Red Room Natasha received exemplary training in martial arts, espionage, firearms, and gymnastics. The KGB had her marry a glorious Soviet air force pilot, Alexei Shostakov, who died sometime later. His death made her totally cold blooded and she went on to graduate from the Red Room as their best ever Black Widow. As a part of her graduation ceremony, she was sterilized. The KGB later dressed her in her trademark black outfit and also gave her Widow’s Bite, a bracelet like weapon that she wears on her wrists. 

Turnaround and defection

Marvel Studios

Natalia Romanova’s Black Widow debuted in Tales of Suspense #52 in April 1964 as an antagonist of the Iron Man. She manipulates Hawkeye to ally with her and they both take on Iron Man but things go haywire and they go on the run. She falls in love with Hawkeye who helps her defect to the US and she joins the Avengers. Though they breakup later, they remain very good and close friends. In several MCU movies it is hinted that Black Widow and Hawkeye have a history together and sometime they talk of Budapest which is where some of the story of Black Widow is set. Another one of her former lovers is Daredevil.

2. Yelena Belova aka Black Widow

Marvel Studios / Via youtube.com

Played by Florence Pugh, Yelena Belova stepped into the shoes of Natasha Romanoff after she defected to the US and became the second Black Widow. She was trained in the same ruthless spy academy, Red Room, as Natasha and broke the records set by Natasha. It is the murder of her mentor,  Pyotr Vasilievich Starkovsky, that compels her to don the mantle of Black Widow.  

She was first introduced as a minor character in Inhumans #5 in March 1999. Though she refers to Natasha as “sis” in one of the trailers, their relation in the comics is hardly sisterly. Yelena sees Natasha as a traitor who must be eliminated and this leads to fierce rivalry between the two. They have allied sometimes but are usually at each other’s throat. Natasha tries to persuade her to leave the dirty business of assassination and espionage and finally achieves a breakthrough. Yelena is later recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D. and then by Hydra and she undergoes lots of transformation, physical as well as mental. In the movies both the characters seem to have a sisterly bond so it will be quite intriguing to see how this plays out. Maybe Yelena will be the new Black Widow just like Sam Wilson is the new Captain America.

3. Melina Vostokoff

Marvel Studios / Via youtube.com

The Melina in the comics is a sworn enemy of Natasha Romanoff. She too is a product of the Soviet spy training program and is an extraordinary espionage agent, master combatant and assassin. She grew sick of remaining in Natasha’s shadow and soon became her foe.

Melina took on the alter ego of Iron Maiden. She encased herself in a flexible metal costume and became a full time criminal, a hired killer. She later joined the women only villainous group called Femizons and faced off against Captain America as well. In the movie her character has a motherly bond with Natasha and it would be quite interesting to see her character’s development.  

4. Red Guardian

Marvel Studios / Via youtube.com

Remember Alexei Shostakov? The husband of Natasha who died? Well he didn’t die die. The KGB faked his death because they had a very special role for this Soviet war hero. They wanted him to be the Soviet equivalent of Captain America (minus the super-soldier serum).

The Red Guardian debuted in Avengers #43 in 1967 as an opponent of the Avengers. Alexei Shostakov was a decorated war hero and ace fighter pilot who was recruited by Soviet officer Vasily Karpov, who later became the head of Department X, the KGB’s super-soldier development program. Unlike his American counterpart, he ain’t juiced up. Alexei underwent grueling training to hone his reflexes, fighting skills and strength.

But he won’t be Natasha’s husband in this movie. Although revealed to be Natasha’s husband (to a flabbergasted Hawkeye) in his origin story, the trailers have made it amply clear that Alexei is going to be a father figure to Natasha and Yelena in the upcoming movie.

5. Thaddeus Ross

Marvel Studios / Via youtube.com

General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross is one of the well known supporting characters of Marvel Comics and MCU. Most famous for his role in the creation of Hulk, his botched attempts at capturing Hulk (for which he created Abomination), and being the father of Hulk’s girlfriend. He seems to have climbed up the political ladder and was US Secretary of State in Captain America: Civil War.

He comes from a military family and was an Air Force general. He was in charge of the Gamma Bomb project that accidently led to the creation of the Hulk. In the comics he himself got transformed into Red Hulk.

6. Taskmaster

Marvel Studios / Via youtube.com

One of the lesser known but iconic super-villains of Marvel Comics makes his big screen debut as the chief antagonist in Black Widow. Anthony “Tony” Masters aka Taskmaster was introduced as an antagonist of the Avengers in 1980. He is a maestro of fighting skills. While growing up in the Bronx, he noticed that he had the unique ability to accurately reproduce the moves of others just by watching them in action. As a result, no learning curve was steep enough for him and he acquired fighting skills just by window shopping.

A man of ‘photographic reflexes’.

Marvel Studios / Via youtube.com

By reviewing television footage of various superheroes, he mastered the fighting techniques of Captain America, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Iron Fist and many others. He also retains the memory of these fighting techniques indefinitely. His ‘photographic reflexes’ also enable him to mimic voices and learn new languages in a jiffy. Taskmaster usually carries a metal shield, bow and arrow, a gun and a sword as his weapons. Fighting him is like fighting your own mirror image and thus he is very difficult to defeat.

7. Dreykov

Marvel Studios

Well this is a character that has the least amount of backstory available because he has been created solely for the movies and doesn’t exist in the Marvel Comics except for a few passing mentions. His presence was first teased in the first Avengers movie when Loki calls Natasha as Dreykov’s daughter. Apparently Dreykov oversees the Red Room program but it remains to be seen how he fits in the movie.

8. Rick Mason

Marvel Studios

Rick Mason is a supporting character who works for S.H.I.E.L.D. He is often seen carrying out orders for Nick Fury. He is the son of villain called Tinkerer but he decided to stay clear off the path of crime. He specializes in covert operations. His MCU avatar will be slightly different, though.

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14 Movies And Shows That Matt Damon Appeared In Unexpectedly

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I will never not stan Donny from EuroTrip.

In case you want the 411, basically Matt Damon has a habit of just randomly appearing in movies for no reason other than for funsies?

So, here are all of the films and shows where Matt Damon has made a surprise appearance:

1. In 2000, Matt made a surprise appearance as Steven Sanderson in Finding Forrester:

Sony Pictures

2. In 2001, Matt — and Good Will Hunting co-star Ben Affleck — made a surprise appearance as himself in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back:

Dimension Films

3. In 2002, Matt made a surprise appearance as Kevin in The Third Wheel:

Miramax Films

4. Later that year, Matt made a surprise appearance as Bachelor Matt in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind:

Miramax Films

5. In 2004, Matt made a surprise appearance as Donny in EuroTrip:

DreamWorks Pictures

6. Later that year, Matt made a surprise appearance as PR Exec #2 in Jersey Girl:

Miramax Films

7. In 2007, Matt made a surprise appearance as Ted Jones in Youth Without Youth:

Sony Pictures

8. Later that year, Matt made a surprise appearance as himself in Arthur:

9. In 2009, Matt made a surprise appearance as himself in Entourage:

10. In 2013, Matt made a surprise appearance as himself in House of Lies:

11. In 2017, Matt made a surprise appearance as fake Loki in Thor: Ragnarok:

Walt Disney / Marvel Studios

12. In 2018, Matt made a surprise appearance as Detective Ferguson in Unsane:

Bleeker Street

13. Later that year, Matt made a surprise appearance as Redneck 1 in Deadpool 2:

20th Century Fox

14. Last, but not least, later the same year, Matt made a surprise appearance as Brett Kavanaugh in Saturday Night Live:

Truly obsessed with the Matt Damon Cinematic Universe.

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Famous Women Might Just Be The Most Amazing People In The World, And Here Are 22 Wholesome Stories To Prove It

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“I met Angelina Jolie when she was filming Girl, Interrupted (they were filming across the street from the daycare/after-school program I went to). One day, she came over during a break and brought us tons of new toys, games, clothes, and snacks. I will never forget how genuinely kind and warm and lovely she was to all of us.

I was a little bit older than most of the other kids (I was 12), and Angelina took the time to talk to me. She asked what I was interested in, and I said I loved reading classic experimental fiction — she came back the next day before she left town to give me a copy of The Sheltering Sky. She wasn’t super famous at the time, and she was just the sweetest and funniest person — I still have the book.”

alexs52

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Americans Facing an Epidemic of Exhaustion: What’s Causing This Crisis, and How You Can Get Your Energy Back

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Do you feel tired all the time? If so, you’re not alone. Too many of us feel sluggish because we consume too many unhealthy foods and drinks. Other lifestyle choices can add to the problem. Over time the problem has gotten worse, according to best-selling author Dr. Steven Gundry who says certain energy traps rob of us our vitality and cause us to feel sick and tired most days, which is a threat to our health. 

“Fatigue and tiredness is an epidemic in this country,” he told CBN News, “Well over fifty percent of people actually complain of chronic tiredness and that includes Millennials. And that’s certainly not our experience in years past.”

In his book The Energy Paradox: What to Do When Your Get-Up-and-Go Has Got Up and Gone, Dr. Gundry describes the changes to our modern lifestyle that have led to increased tiredness, moodiness, brain fog, or weight gain. 

“Two o’clock in the afternoon all systems seem to go on pause,” he explained, “You don’t feel like working or doing anything with the kids, want to lie down or reach for an energy bar or some other type of pick me up like a cup of coffee.”

Unhealthy Gut

Dr. Gundry says the primary cause of our low energy stems from an unhealthy gut. He said too many of us lack the good bacteria, called probiotics, that are necessary to adequately power our bodies. Probiotics can be consumed in a number of ways, such as in supplements, foods like yogurt and kimchi as well as beverages like kombucha. 

Additionally, those bacteria need to flourish by eating fiber-rich foods called prebiotics. Prebiotics can be consumed in supplement form and in many fiber-rich foods like fresh vegetables such as asparagus, onions, dandelion greens, and broccoli. 

The good bacteria “Actually actually communicate to the energy-producing organelles in all our cells called the mitochondria to make more energy, Dr. Gundry said, “So the probiotics that you manufacture by eating prebiotics literally turbocharges your energy.”

Dr. Gundry went on to explain that an unhealthy gut often leaks, thereby further depleting our body’s energy reserves. 

“If you’re tired and fatigued you have leaky gut,” he said.

That’s the condition where holes develop in the thin lining of the gut, allowing food and proteins to escape. When that happens, it causes an immune reaction, which triggers inflammation, a process that drains huge amounts of our precious energy.

“Inflammation is actually our white blood cells, our immune system, our foot soldiers, if you will, attacking threats that come into our body primarily through the lining of our gut,” he said.

Dr. Gundry says unhealthy foods such as sugar and processed foods can harm the gut. 

Don’t Overmedicate

Dr. Gundry says too many medications can also harm the gut, particularly antibiotics. 

“Please, please, please try to avoid taking antibiotics for simple things like runny noses or scratchy throats,” he said, adding that antibiotics kill virtually all of the bacteria in the gut. Sometimes antibiotics are life-saving drugs that effectively treat deadly bacterial infections. However, too often they are used to treat viral infections and therefore have no effect at all except to destroy the good gut bacteria.

Furthermore, Dr. Gundry warns about eating foods that have been given these drugs.

“Try to avoid eating animals that have been raised with antibiotics with factory farms,” he said, “It turns out antibiotics kill off most of the good bugs in our intestines that actually protect us from leaky gut.” 

“We actually produce ATP, energy, from sunlight exposure,” he said. 

In order to feel energetic during the day, we need a good night’s sleep. However, blue light coming from our electronics can keep us from falling asleep. Dr. Gundry recommends turning them off hours before bedtime or at night, wearing glasses that block the blue light. 

Dr. Gundry warns against taking certain heartburn and acid indigestion medications longer than two weeks. 

“We now know that these actually stop the energy-producing organelles the mitochondria from working because they interrupt how mitochondria produce energy which is called proton pumping,” he said.

More Vitamin D, Better Sleep

Dr. Gundry says people suffering from low energy usually need more Vitamin D. He recommends a 5,000 IU daily supplement and more time outside.

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CBN Film’s documentary, “Written in Stone: Secrets of the Temple”

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Secrets of the Temple 

Solomon’s Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC. 70 years later, the Temple was rebuilt by Jewish exiles returning from Babylon. Over the next 400 years, the Temple would be desecrated by the Greeks and Romans. Then, rededicated by the Maccabees. Then around 20 BC it was dismantled and rebuilt on a grand scale by one of history’s greatest builders: Herod the Great.

Today, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is the most disputed piece of land on earth. The site is under Islamic rule and excavation is not permitted. So, archaeologists have been exploring areas around the site and have unearthed some amazing discoveries, like:

  • An altar, dated around 2,000 BC, used for animal sacrifices was found just south of the Temple Mount, with a place to tie up the animals, and an olive press to make anointing oil. 
  • For centuries, a small, murky pool was identified as the Pool of Siloam. The Byzantines even built a small church to commemorate the site, but archaeologists were not convinced this was a legitimate location. In 2004, archaeologist Eli Shukron supervised repairs when a pipe burst nearby. Then, what Shukron discovered was a large, rock-cut pool with several steps. According to the Gospel of John, this was the spot where Jesus healed a blind man by putting mud on his eyes. Now, that the real Pool of Siloam was discovered, they wondered where people walked to get from the pool to the Temple. That’s when they discovered an ancient road. 
  • Herodian/Pilgrimage Road: This ancient road that is underground is almost 2,000 years old but was first discovered in 1894, by members of the Palestine Exploration Fund. However, they reburied it when the excavation was finished. In 2013, excavators revisited the site uncovering a 350-meter section. It was originally known as the “Herodian Road”, but a recent discovery puts the construction around the time of Jesus’ ministry, more than three decades after Herod’s death. This is in fact the pilgrimage road where Jews walked to the Temple. Like millions of other Jewish pilgrims, Jesus would have walked up these steps when he went to the Temple. At the top, he would have entered the gates to the Temple, named after the Old Testament prophetess Huldah.
  • Huldah gates: Once a visitor passed through the gates, they would find a sign, with a Greek inscription warning Gentiles not to enter. These signs are mentioned by Josephus and read: “No foreigner is to enter the barriers surrounding the sanctuary. He who is caught will have himself to blame for his death which will follow.”
  • Excavators also found a cache of more than 100 coins dating between 31 and 40 AD which means that the road was probably built by Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea at the time. In the first century, the road was above ground and archaeologists call it the “Times Square” of Jerusalem with busy markets on either side. Today, the road is several feet beneath an Arab neighborhood called Silwan, the Arabic name for “Siloam.” 
  • Under the road, archaeologists also discovered a drainage channel that turned out to be a treasure trove. 

Several amazing discoveries were made:

  • One of those discoveries was a silver half-shekel from the time of Jesus. During the time of the Temple, every Jewish person was required annually to bring to the Temple what’s known as a Temple tax. It didn’t matter whether you were rich or poor. Every Jewish person was obligated to bring a silver half-shekel for the upkeep of the temple.
  • Another discovery is a small golden bell. When the high priest officiated, he wore a blue garment with fringe work. There were also golden bells that hung upon the fringes, and pomegranates intermixed among them.
  • “To the House of the Trumpeter” stone: That stone would have been at the very top of the Temple Mount complex, by one of the corners. It says on it, “Lebeit hatekiya,” to the trumpeter’s house. 2,000-plus years ago, it was a bustling marketplace. You would find a priest standing atop the Temple Mount on the eve of the Sabbaths or festivals blowing a trumpet, telling the shoppers down below, “It’s time to close the stalls, time to make your last-minute purchases and go home, and get ready to observe the Sabbath.”
  • Foundation Stones: When Herod was expanding the Second Temple, along with the Temple Mount, he built monumental support or retaining walls to support the massive structure that would sit atop the Temple Mount. And these stones are actually below the surface. They’re foundation stones and no one has seen them since they were laid some 2,000 years ago. This spot in the Herodian/Pilgrimage road is believed to be the closest point to the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant once rested. Just to the north is the Dome of the Rock where Jews believe the Foundation Stone marks the location of the Holy of Holies. And since they’re not allowed to pray on the Temple Mount, they pray here instead.
  • Cedar & Cypress beams: Archaeologists took advantage of a natural disaster in 1927 when a powerful earthquake rattled the city of Jerusalem. Workers uncovered beams made from cedar and cypress which had clearly been reused several times throughout history. Carbon-14 dating revealed that one cypress beam was from the first century. The beam has column markings similar to the measurements of the columns in Herod’s Royal Stoa suggesting that it may have originally been used in the Second Temple. Other beams were even older, dating as far back as the 9th century BC, around the time of King Solomon who, according to the Bible, used cypress and cedar to build the First Temple.
  • Temple Mount Sifting Project: Since archaeologists are forbidden to dig on the Temple Mount itself, they’re doing the next best thing: Digging through its trash. In November of 1999, some bulldozers appeared on the Temple Mount at the place which is the most delicate place for archeology where even a toothbrush would be too large a tool to carry out an excavation. In that place, bulldozers began to dig a gigantic pit. About 400 truckloads saturated with the history of the Temple Mount were removed from the Temple Mount, and the earth of these 400 truckloads was dumped into the Kidron Valley about 500 meters east of the Temple Mount. Working with a colleague, archaeologist Gabriel Barkay retrieved the debris from the Kidron Valley and started sifting through it with a team of volunteers. This was the beginning of what’s now known as the Temple Mount Sifting Project that is still taking place today. Many of their finds go back to the First Temple.
    • Among them are Babylonian arrowheads from Nebuchadnezzar’s army.
    • A clay seal impression from the family of “Immer”-A priestly family mentioned in Jeremiah 20:1 which refers to the son of Immer as “the chief governor in the house of the Lord.”
    • They also found an ancient weight known as the “beka” used to measure the silver Temple tax. The beka, found in soil from the Western Wall area, was mentioned in the book of Exodus: “One Beka per head, that is half a shekel, for each one who goes through the counting” or census.
    • But perhaps one of the Sifting Project’s most remarkable finds is a cache of 600 stone floor tiles from the Second Temple. At least 100 of them date definitively to the time of King Herod. These would have been the tiles that Jesus walked on when He overturned the tables of the moneychangers. 
  • Magdala Stone: A hundred miles north of Jerusalem on the shores of the Sea of Galilee archaeologists found a 2000-year-old table-like stone with a picture of the Holy of Holies on it. The stone was likely used to hold Torah scrolls. But the table itself had a larger purpose: To provide a visual reminder of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
  • Magdala Synagogue: Further excavations revealed that the stone sat inside a synagogue. The spiritual center of a first-century fishing village. The place some believe to be the home of one of Jesus’ followers, Mary Magdalene. With Roman frescoes and mosaics, Magdala boasts the most ornate synagogue in the Galilee region. Inside, excavators found first-century pottery fragments and a coin of Herod Antipas from the year AD 29. They also found 12 coins between the years 3-58 AD, and they are now absolutely certain that the synagogue was existing in the first part of the first century right up to 68 AD. Proving that this synagogue was operational during the lifetime of Jesus and during the generation after Pentecost.

Written in Stone

In 1867, a British engineer and archaeologist named Charles Warren arrived in Jerusalem to uncover the biblical history of the Holy Land. Since then, thousands of archaeological discoveries throughout the Middle East have confirmed the history of the Bible.

Hosted by CBN’s Gordon Robertson, Written in Stone: Secrets of the Temple takes you on a visual journey through the Bible. In addition to providing archaeological evidence of biblical stories, you will also see the beautiful land of the Bible. 

The purpose of creating this series was to use archaeology to prove that we can trust the Bible as an accurate historical source. The facts of the Bible like history, archaeology, the names of people and places are all accurate. In more than 150 years of biblical archaeology, not one thing has ever been discovered that disproved the Bible. If its historical facts can be trusted, we can also trust the rest of what’s written. 

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Pelosi Refuses to Answer Reporter’s Question: Is a 15-Week-Old Unborn Baby a Human Being?

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) deflected a question from a reporter on Thursday when she was asked whether a 15-week-old unborn baby is a human being. 

The question was regarding the upcoming Supreme Court review of a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.  The high court is expected to hear the case this fall. 

Julia Johnson, a CNS News reporter, asked Pelosi the question during her weekly press conference. 

“Let me just say that I’m a big supporter of Roe vs. Wade,” Pelosi replied. “I am a mother of five children in six years. I think I have some standing on this issue as to respecting a woman’s right to choose.”

The reporter, however, wasn’t going to let the speaker off the hook. 

“Is it a human being?” the reporter asked again. 

Without responding, Pelosi pointed to another reporter in the room to ask a question. 
 
As CBN News reported, the Mississippi case does not directly challenge the legal right to an abortion, but it could lay the groundwork for more restrictions. And if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned, abortion would then become a state issue. 

With more conservative Supreme Court justices now on the court, pro-life advocates are hopeful that our nation will get a step closer to overturning Roe v. Wade.

Mallory Quigley of the Susan B. Anthony List explained, “Ultimately the hope is that the Supreme Court will take the handcuffs off the states and allow them to pass laws that reflect the values of the people that live there.” 

Only one abortion clinic remains operational in Mississippi and that owner said procedures are performed up to 16 weeks gestation.

***Please sign up for CBN Newsletters and download the CBN News app to ensure you keep receiving the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***

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Messianic Jews in Israel Win Important Supreme Court Victory

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Israel’s High Court of Justice (Supreme Court) ruled in favor of a Messianic congregation this week, granting Tiferet Yeshua (the Glory of Jesus) congregation tax benefits – but the victory goes much further than finances.

It’s been a long haul. According to the congregation’s former pastor and current elder, Ron Cantor, the group applied for the status in 2013 and has been battling since then.

Israelis get a 35% tax refund on donations to public institutions.  But unlike the U.S., the tax-deductible status of an organization must be approved by the Finance Committee in the Knesset. 

Last October, Moshe Gafni, who was then Finance Committee head and is also an anti-missionary (one who opposes Messianic Jews) and ultra-Orthodox member of the Knesset, rejected the tax-deductible donation status for Tiferet Yeshua. He even had the support of the opposition, led by Israel’s new Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

“Sadly, it seems the one thing that our government can agree on is to deny basic rights to Messianic Jewish Israelis,” Cantor said.

This week the High Court rejected Gafni’s argument as illegal.

“The decision of the Finance Committee was based on an incorrect assumption that they had the authority to take into consideration that a non-profit is engaged in ‘controversial’ activity…the committee overreached in its authority. Personal emotions or deep disagreements [are] not enough either, especially as long as the activity is legal…This is especially important for organizations engaged in religious services, which is already controversial as it is, and the importance of freedom of religion and of conscience,” the Court said in its ruling.

“The criteria of ‘controversy’ enables decisions based upon extraneous considerations, prejudice, inequality, and arbitrariness.” another judge added.

Gafni responded to the High Court decision by saying that the Finance Committee had set a procedure not to give tax-exempt status “to missionary organizations who are against the law, and members from both the coalition and opposition confirmed it.”

He said the High Court shouldn’t complain in the future when “when there will be battles about reducing their authority.”

The ruling comes just a year after the government pressured the local cable TV company to drop a Messianic program called Shelanu.

The Council for Cable and Satellite Broadcasting suspended HOT Cable’s license to broadcast Shelanu TV, GOD TV’s Hebrew-speaking channel, over allegations that it is preaching the gospel to Israelis.

Even though evangelism is legal in Israel, Council chairman Asher Biton accused HOT Cable at the time of misrepresenting Shelanu TV’s content and intentions on the licensing application. 

“The channel is aimed at Jews with Christian content, in contrast to the original broadcast request, which stated it was designated for Christians,” Biton said then.

“We knew this was a violation of our civil liberties and were prepared to go to court,” Cantor said. “Based on this week’s decision, we would have clearly won.”

But Cantor, who is the president of Shelanu TV, said they came out ahead.

“The good news is that we resurfaced online within three hours and are now reaching far more people (tens of thousands of Israelis!) using social media and our website than we ever could have with an obscure cable channel,” Cantor said.

With Israel’s new government, sworn in earlier this week, Gafni is no longer head of the Finance Committee and instead sits in the opposition. And even though the Messianics are fighting for their rights, Cantor says, they “love and pray for” the ultra-Orthodox.

“After going through what we went through last year with Shelanu TV, I’m so encouraged to see my government take a stand for democracy and freedom, against those who would seek to limit the speech and religious practices of their own citizenry,” Cantor said.

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Israeli Volunteers Head into Harm’s Way to Help Citizens Under Fire

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During the recent war between Hamas and Israel, millions of Israelis lived literally in the line of fire when Hamas fired more than four thousand rockets at southern and central Israel.  While the rockets fell, one organization called United Hatzalah went into harm’s way to help those in need. 

In one video, Gavy Friedson, the US Spokesman for United Hatzalah described the scene just after one of the rockets hit: “My name is Gavy Friedson, I’m a medic with United Hatzalah and I’m here right now in Sderot where just a few minutes ago a rocket directly hit this home here.  As you can see, it penetrated the house.”

United Hatzalah is Israel’s largest volunteer emergency service.  They strive to respond to emergencies within three minutes and Friedson, like dozens of other volunteers, raced to the front lines during the 11-day war in May.   

“We were able to respond to any rocket that had a direct hit where there were many injuries from shrapnel.”

He added, “The entire country was almost taken hostage, making sure that they were in close proximity to a bomb shelter just in case a rocket falls.”

Like millions of Israelis, they too had to run for shelter as sirens wailed, and for those who live right next to the border, they have only 10 seconds to seek shelter when the alarm sounds.   

“Being down south, I got a whole new look at 10 seconds, being able to run in 10 seconds, going to the bathroom and only having 10 seconds.  I mean, this is a way of life for the people who’ve been down south for a long time.” 

The co-founder of United Hatzalah, Mark Gerson, told CBN’s George Thomas why the organization helped Israelis under fire during the war. 

“We’re doing that because our brethren in Israel, the people that we love in Israel are being attacked by Hamas terrorists from the south and the heroes of Hatzalah are rushing into the fire to help their neighbors in need.” 

CBN News has reported on United Hatzalah in the past when we rode with them through the streets of Jerusalem.  Their modified motor scooters called “ambucycles” allow them to reach the scene of an emergency within three minutes or less.  They have 6,000 volunteers throughout the country that respond at a moment’s notice.     

Gerson explained, “It’s an extremely effective system.  the most precious moments following a trauma are the first three minutes, in those precious moments that separate life and death. Consequently, on a normal day when we are doing 1900 calls a day, we’re able to save about 200 lives a day and that [was] multiplied during this crisis.”  

Friedson knows Israel is fighting an enemy committed to its goal of genocide. 

“They scream at the top of their lungs that they would like to see Israel be annihilated and completely gone from the earth and washed into the see.  I mean, this is part of the rhetoric.”

Despite the danger, he says, they choose life. 

“Every day, our medics in United Hatzalah have a love for life that I’ve never seen before. I get to see that every single day. That’s what we do.  We spend our time trying to save lives but being down south with rockets flying over your head, it just boosts that feeling of your appreciation of every single day as a blessing.”

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Chris Pratt Surprises Four Deployed Soldiers Ahead of Father’s Day, ‘Tomorrow War’ Release

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Chris Pratt, the A-list actor who has been open about his faith in recent years, offered a nice surprise to some of his fans serving overseas: early access to the star’s latest movie release, The Tomorrow War.

The families stateside will be treated to a nice meal, which Pratt joked to the soldiers currently deployed overseas that “you’ll have to eat the same old stuff.”

Pratt went on to thank each for their sacrifices. “I understand that the life I live inside of a bubble of protection that you provide for me,” the Marvel star said. “Just know, I do not take it for granted. I’m living my dream and I know you’re making that possible. Thank you.”

“Thank you for supporting the troops and our families,” one of the soldiers on the conference zoom call said to Pratt, who took the time to chat and answer questions with several servicemen and their families.

The surprise, featured on People Magazine, is nothing unusual for Pratt, who is a big supporter of our men and women in the armed forces. His brother, Cully, is an Army vet and now a sheriff’s deputy.

FAITHWIRE  Meet Chris Pratt’s Brother: Army Vet, Cop, and Talented Artist

“I always wanted to be exactly like him,” Pratt said of his veteran brother, admiring his willingness to serve in the military.

FAITHWIRE ‘I Always Wanted to Be Exactly Like Him’: Chris Pratt Honors His Brother Cully on Veterans Day

Pratt comes from a family steeped in armed service, with several of his loved ones having spent considerable time in the military. On a recent Veterans Day, he wrote, “This is my older brother Cully. #happyveteransday,” Pratt wrote alongside a picture of his brother in uniform. “I always wanted to be exactly like him. He is a good big brother. He’s always led with love.”

“Growing up we wrestled for hours every day and smashed every bit of furniture in the house but never actually fought,” Chris continued. “He taught me everything. He put up with me and my incessant hyperactivity and forced his friends to do the same.”

Partially because of his outspoken faith, Pratt has often been a target of cancel culture. Some argued recently that Hollywood should stop working with him because of his alleged conservative political beliefs and the church he attends. 

It started when film writer Amy Berg tweeted that one Hollywood “Chris” needs to go, in a hypothetical internet poll. Then she needlessly pitted Chris Pratt against Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, and Chris Pine.

The negative attacks on Pratt came in fast and furious from progressives on Twitter calling him a “conservative Trumper” and a “Bible pusher.” 

Pratt’s wife Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt immediately came to her husband’s defense, calling out the internet “bullies.” 

Fellow Marvel actors Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Zoe Saldana, and Jeremy Renner also stepped forward to speak out against the criticism. 

Downey Jr. defends Pratt by referring to the Bible passage in which Jesus defended a woman who was about to be stoned to death. “What a world… The ‘sinless’ are casting stones at my #brother, Chris Pratt.” 

He goes on to call Pratt, “A real #Christian who lives by #principle, has never demonstrated anything but #positivity and #gratitude.”

Ruffalo tweeted that Pratt “is as solid a man there is” while Saldana encouraged her Guardians of the Galaxy co-star writing, “You got this… Your family, friends, colleagues & everyone who’s ever crossed paths with you knows your heart and your worth!”

Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn also came to Pratt’s defense tweeting, “Please stop assuming what he believes, politically or in any other way, because he’s a Christian.”

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Catholic Bishops Advance Effort to Deny Biden Communion Over His Pro-Abortion Policies

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U.S. Catholic Bishops overwhelmingly voted in favor of advancing a push to deny President Biden communion over his support for abortion.

Despite a warning from the Vatican, 73 percent of the bishops approved that measure to deny Holy Communion to Biden and other pro-choice politicians.

Outcry over the President’s position is again revealing deep division within the church. 
 
Shortly after the vote was announced, a reporter asked him if he is concerned about the rift in the Catholic Church and how he feels personally about it. 
 
“That’s a private matter and I don’t think that’s going to happen,” said Biden.

Catholic church policy says any parishioner in “good standing” can receive communion at mass. 

But the debate is growing about vocal political supporters of abortion rights and whether they still qualify for communion.

This week, it played out at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. While Biden’s faith is celebrated by his church, Pope Francis, and many news outlets, his liberal position on abortion is creating an increasing divide among Catholics. 

During a press briefing on Capitol Hill Thursday, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dodged a reporter’s question about whether a 15-week unborn baby constitutes a human being.

“Is an unborn baby at 15 weeks a human being?” the reporter asked.

“Let me just say that I am a big supporter of Roe v. Wade,” Pelosi responded. “I am a mother of five children in six years. I think I have some standing on this issue as to respecting a woman’s right to choose.”

Since taking office, Biden has been targeting rules that protect the unborn, including the Mexico City Policy that prohibited taxpayer funds for abortions abroad. He previously opposed efforts to end that policy.

Biden also changed his position on the Hyde Amendment blocking federal funding for abortion services.

“If I believe healthcare is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s zip code,” said Biden.

In the ’80s, Biden voted in favor of a constitutional amendment to allow states to overturn Roe v. Wade. In the ’90s, he voted against federal funds for abortion at least 50 times.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann, Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is among those who fear the President is deliberately trying to confuse the faithful. 

“Americans have given him a lot of power and authority. One power he doesn’t have is to define what it means to be Catholic,” said Naumann recently.

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