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Rev. Franklin Graham Praises Putin for Stance Against Homosexuality.

Image: Rev. Franklin Graham Praises Putin for Stance Against Homosexuality(AP)

By Todd Beamon

The Rev. Franklin Graham has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his stance against homosexuality and slammed President Barack Obama’s “shameful” embrace of gay rights.

“To be clear, I am not endorsing President Putin,” Graham, the son of renowned evangelist Billy Graham, said in the March issue of Decision magazine.

The magazine in published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, based in Charlotte, N.C. Franklin Graham is the association’s president and CEO.

“To survive in the KGB and rise to power in Russia, you have to be tough,” Graham said of Putin. “His enemies say he is ruthless. To some, he is a modern version of a czar. His personal life has its own controversies.

“Isn’t it sad, though, that America’s own morality has fallen so far that on this issue — protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda — Russia’s standard is higher than our own?

“Putin is right on these issues,” Graham continued. “Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.”

Last year, Putin banned the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors,” Graham said. The restriction was highlighted by the Russian president’s critics leading up to the Winter Games in Sochi last month.

“American media and liberal activists were outraged that the Olympics would be allowed in such an ‘intolerant’ culture,” Graham said. “Even though Putin said that gays and lesbians would be allowed at the Olympics, the fact that he took a stand — simply to protect children — ignited a worldwide cultural firestorm.

“He further explained the law by saying, ‘We have a ban on the propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia,’ ” Graham said.

The evangelist called the American response to Putin’s crackdown “sadly predictable,” noting that President Obama sent gay and lesbian athletes to Sochi. He also mentioned Attorney General Eric Holder’s announcement last month that his office would push forrecognition of same-sex marriage in all 50 states — “even in the 33 states that outlaw those marriages.”

Graham then charged Obama and Holder with having “turned their backs on God and his standards, and many in the Congress are following the administration’s lead. This is shameful.

“The world used to look to America for moral leadership,” Graham said. “But those days are long gone.”

He said that the United States has “abdicated our moral leadership” — at home and abroad.

“We defeated Communism, only to relax and see secularism and progressives take over our country,” Graham said. “Secularism is as godless as communism. Secularists and progressives have taken over our schools, media, and local and federal government. And it has all happened in the twinkling of an eye.”

He ended by quoting portions of Matthew 25:34 from the New Testament.

“But the Bible makes it clear that one day, ‘all nations will be gathered before [God]’ for judgment, and that ‘at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,'” Graham wrote.
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Freedom House Church Apologizes for ‘Only White People’ Comment.

Freedom House Church
Freedom House Church (WBTV)

Charisma News reported Tuesday that Freedom House Church in Charlotte, N.C., asked “only white people” to greet at its front doors in an effort to “bring [the church‘s] racial demographic pendulum back to mid-line.”

The church has apologized for the incident and sent Charisma News the following statement:

“One of our longtime pastors, in keeping with our church’s desire to be inclusive and intentionally reach out to all races, noticed our front door greeting team was no longer reflecting the racial diversity of our entire congregation, and she wanted potential visitors to see people like themselves upon entering our church,” the statement says.

“However, she made an error in judgment in requesting all white greeters at the front door, going overboard in placing emphasis on any one race over another in trying to highlight diversity within the greeting team. She admits this was a grave lapse in judgment and is sincerely sorry for her actions. She immediately apologized and has asked our forgiveness. She and senior pastors have made themselves available to meet with any church members who want to discuss this situation with them, and have communicated their true heart in this matter—to be a church welcoming and inclusive to all.

“Freedom House believes in a diverse relationship within its membership, reflecting the larger community in which the church resides, doing life together as a church representative of everyone—culturally, ethnically, economically and generationally.”



‘Modern-Day Mother Teresa’ Heads Homeless Church.


Freddie Power in the Sudan
Freddie Power in the Sudan (Facebook)

North Carolina has one of the country’s fastest-growing homeless populations. In Charlotte, one of the largest cities in the state, the most vulnerable people are in desperate need of help.

One grandmother is answering the call seven days a week. Her name is Freddie Power, and her work has led some to call her a modern-day Mother Teresa.

The Parking Lot Service

The streets of Charlotte are home to more than 3,000 people. Rory “Hotdog” Montgomery is one of them. At 63, he can fit all he owns in a shopping cart, but he’s not bitter about his lot in life.

“The way I would explain it is that you are where God wants you to be at that time that He wants you to be there,” Montgomery told CBN News. “I don’t consider myself homeless. I am just residentially disadvantaged.”

“If I can do something good for somebody, even though I don’t have, then maybe someone that have can do something for somebody else that don’t have,” he said.

Montgomery’s giving heart is pumped even bigger on Sunday afternoons. That is when he joins dozens of other homeless for church in a Charlotte parking lot.

“It gets you off the corner of the block. You ain’t in the riff-raff. This might be the time that something happens up there, and God put me here to save me,” he said.

Church Without Walls

Power is the tireless grandmother behind this growing outreach ministry. She has started two homeless churches in the last five years through her Keeping Hope Alive ministry.

She makes regular mission trips to Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and South Africa, but she rarely misses an opportunity to join her faithful churchgoers when she is at home.

Power recounted stories of their faithfulness in an interview after one Sunday service.

“One day it was snowing so hard I thought, ‘No one is going to be there.’ And I thought, ‘No, I am going to take groceries, and I am going to go,’” she said.

“And there were five men with umbrellas and coats on and they were just covered in snow,” she said. “And we fed them and had church service. So, they come, no matter what.”

They come for encouragement, prayer and food.

The First Service

The services are still a walk of faith for Power. She prays each week for God to draw the people to the services and for Him to supply the food for her to distribute.

Power recalled that first Sunday service in 2008 when she emptied her own bank account to buy groceries.

“Twenty-two people gave their heart to Jesus that weekend. And I said, ‘OK, God, what are You doing? Do You want us to do it again?’ And He, said, ‘Yes, I want you to go do it again,’“ she said.

“Someone gave me the money. So we went around, and 22 more people gave their heart to Jesus. And then He said, ‘I want you to start a church for the homeless. Put out a few plastic chairs, and I will bring the people,’” she said.

Building on a Spiritual Legacy

Power’s first church for the homeless began on the corner of Duckworth and Wesley Heights in Charlotte, a corner with real spiritual significance for the city. The church meets just across the street from the site of a famous church built by Alfred Garr in the 1930s.

Power was not in Charlotte for Garr’s ministry, but she knows the history well.

“Even during the Depression, he brought the old coliseum of Charlotte, a brick at a time, over here to build this. And it was thick. The walls were very thick,” she said. “And he paid them a sandwich a day, just for the working. Isn’t that amazing? He believed in that church. And he believed the Holy Spirit was coming in power.”

“Someone invited me to come to the Garr church land—the building was there then—and we felt the presence of the Lord still on the place for all of the miracles that happened during that time,” she recalled.

Labeled a “20th-century apostle,” Garr’s miracle meetings often made headlines in the Charlotte Observer. And Power, known as “Ms. Freddie,” said she and her team still witness miracles in the neighborhood today.

“That is what is so great about it. We show up, and God does the rest. I don’t do the miracles. He does. And He saves people, and He heals people,” she said.

Hotdog, the Miracle

“Hotdog” Montgomery is one of those miracles. Though blind in one eye, he can still create works of art with just a pencil, a Q-tip and an eraser.

“I use what God gave me, when I can,” Montgomery told CBN News. “It gives me a little peace—peace of mind.”

Power featured one of Montgomery’s works in her book, Letters to My Mom.

“He has such talent,” she said. “He is amazing. And there he is on the street. I couldn’t believe it.”

Freddie has only one prayer for Hotdog and her other walking miracles on these streets.

“I want God to be real to them, right where they are at. I want them to live a supernatural, miracle life, right where they’re at,” she said.

And the faithful members of Power’s homeless congregations have only one prayer for Ms. Freddie.

“I pray that she comes back, that’s for sure,” Montgomery said. “I pray that she has safe trips to do what she has to do to make her world and other people’s world better.”

That work is why some call her Charlotte’s “Mother Teresa.”


Billy Graham Named ‘NC’s Favorite Son’.

Billy Graham
Billy Graham was honored this week in his home state. (BGEA)

Billy Graham has spent most of his life in North Carolina.

He grew up in Charlotte and shortly after college moved back to Montreat, N.C., where he has lived since 1945.

But the son of a N.C. dairy farmer received recognition on Wednesday largely for how God used him around the world, preaching in more than 185 countries and territories.

By a unanimous vote from both the House and the Senate, Mr. Graham was honored as “North Carolina’s Favorite Son” by the General Assembly, the first resolution of its kind. The state legislation also honored the memory of Mr. Graham’s late wife, Ruth Bell Graham, for the “partnership with her husband in marriage and ministry.”

Lines 46-48 of the resolution reads“Whereas, Billy Graham, having served our State and country as a faithful and fearless soldier of the cross, having carried the Gospel of Christ for more than 70 years throughout the world, is proud to call himself a Tar Heel and to make North Carolina his home…”

Two of Mr. Graham’s children—Franklin Graham, the CEO and president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and Anne Graham Lotz—were in attendance.

Many in the General Assembly shared personal stories of how Mr. Graham influenced either their own lives or a close family member.

Earlier last month, N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory visited Mr. Graham at his home in Montreat and presented him with a proclamation, naming him “The Favorite Son of North Carolina.”

McCrory, who had served as Charlotte mayor for 14 years, talked about the impact of his 1996 Charlotte Crusade and was also involved in bringing the BGEA headquarters and the Billy Graham Library to Charlotte — both located on Billy Graham Parkway.

And while Mr. Graham has preached to more than 215 million people worldwide, and either met or counseled every U.S. President since Harry Truman in 1950, he never lost focus on his home state.

Besides California and Texas, North Carolina hosted more Crusades (12) than any other state in the U.S. Crusade stops included Asheville (’53, ’77), Chapel Hill (’82), Charlotte (’47, ’58, ’72, ’96), Greensboro (’51), Jacksonville (’62) and Raleigh (’51, ’62, ’73).

In 2012, Mr. Graham made his 56th appearance on the Gallup’s “Ten Most Admired Men in the World” list. The worldwide evangelist was also influential as an author, writing 31 books, including many landing on best-seller lists, most recently “Nearing Home” in 2011.

Ruth Bell Graham, who grew up in China as a daughter of medical missionaries, was also an accomplished author, writing or co-writing 14 books of her own, including “Footprints of a Pilgrim” and “Sitting By My Laughing Fire.”

“When it comes to spiritual things, my wife has had the greatest influence on my memory,” Mr. Graham said about his wife who passed away in 2007.

Mr. Graham still has a burden for both North Carolina and the United States and asks Christians to get involved with My Hope America with Billy Graham, which culminates in November.

Said Mr. Graham recently: “There is only one message in any generation and that’s Jesus.”

To learn more about Mr. Graham’s early years on the dairy farm in North Carolina, including a tour of his childhood home, consider a visit to The Billy Library in Charlotte, N.C. Admission is free. Open Monday-Saturday.


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Billy Graham Visits With NC Governor.

Billy Graham with NC Gov. McCrory
Billy Graham with NC Gov. McCrory

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory visited Billy Graham and Franklin Graham Friday at the elder Graham’s home in Montreat, N.C.

McCrory served as mayor of Charlotte for 14 years. He was in office when the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association moved their headquarters to Charlotte and built the Billy Graham Library. McCrory was instrumental in helping to relocate the ministry to North Carolina.

McCrory was an honored guest at dedications of the BGEA headquarters and the Billy Graham Library. The mayor also visited the Operation Christmas Child processing center in Charlotte in 2006, 2007, and 2008.

Governor McCrory was visiting the mountains of western North Carolina as part of his “Main Street” tours, which highlight his stated desire to revitalize small towns. He visited a hardware store in Black Mountain earlier in the day, as well as an elementary school in Flat Rock.

The governor spoke of Billy Graham’s impact on his home state, and recalled a visit with Mr. Graham on the platform of the 1996 Charlotte Crusade in what was then Ericsson Stadium.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the men prayed together for the Governor, his family and the state.

Click here to read the original story at



Bank of America in $10B-plus mortgage settlement.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Bank of America says it will spend more than $10 billion to settle mortgage claims resulting from the housing meltdown.

Under the deal announced Monday, the bank will pay $3.6 billion to Fannie Mae and buy back $6.75 billion in loans that the North Carolina-based bank and its Countrywide banking unit sold to the government agency from Jan. 1, 2000 through Dec. 31, 2008. That includes about 30,000 loans.

Its shares briefly edged up 9 cents to $12.20 in morning trading, its highest level since May 2011.

CEO Brian Moynihan said the agreements were “a significant step” in resolving the bank’s remaining legacy mortgage issues while streamlining the company and reducing future expenses.

Bank of America bought Countrywide Financial Corp. in July 2008, just before the financial crisis.Countrywide was a giant in mortgage lending, but was also known for approving risky loans.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which packaged loans into securities and sold them to investors, were effectively nationalized in 2008 when they nearly collapsed under the weight of their mortgage losses.

Bank of America’s purchase of Countrywide originally was lauded by lawmakers because the bank was viewed as stepping in to eliminate a bad actor from the mortgage market. But instead of padding Bank of America’s mortgage business, the purchase has drawn a drumbeat of regulatory fines, lawsuits and losses.

Bank of America said that the loans involved in the settlement have an aggregate original principal balance of about $1.4 trillion. The outstanding principal balance is about $300 billion.

“Fannie Mae has diligently pursued repurchases on loans that did not meet our standards at the time of origination, and we are pleased to have reached an appropriate agreement to collect on these repurchase requests,” Bradley Lerman, Fannie Mae executive vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

Bank of America Corp., which is based in Charlotte, N.C., also said that it is also selling mortgage servicing rights on about 2 million residential mortgage loans. The loans have an aggregate unpaid principal balance of approximately $306 billion.

The transferring of the servicing rights is expected to take place throughout the year.

In addition, the bank will pay $1.3 billion to Fannie Mae to settle loan servicing compensatory fee obligations.

Bank of America said its fourth-quarter will include various items related to the settlement and other matters, but that it expects “modestly positive” earnings for the period.


Associated Press

An uneasy economy, and those living through it.


CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Here was Chas Kaufmann’s life before the Great Recession: $28,000 in restaurant tabs in a year, cruises, house parties with fireworks. His Mr. Gutter business was booming in the Pennsylvania Poconos.

Now: “We mainly shop at Sam’s Club and portion out our meals. We spend $4 to $5 a night on eating.” He and his wife use space heaters in their elegant house and leave parts of it cold. The Hummer is gone, and he drives a 2005 pickup. On Nov. 6, Kaufman is voting for Mitt Romney.

Lower down the ladder, the recession put Simone Ludlow’s life in a full circle. Laid off by an Atlanta hotel company in 2009, Ludlow, 32, bounced from job to job for two years, got by with a “very generous mother,” still makes do by renting a room in a house owned by friends, and is back working for the company that had let her go. She’s voting for President Barack Obama.

For four years, the bumpy economy cut an uneasy path. It raked small towns and big cities, knocked liberals and conservatives on their backs, plagued Republicans and Democrats alike.

It was the worst economic setback since the Depression, and it didn’t take sides.


Across the country, Associated Press reporters asked people to talk about their livelihoods before and after the December 2007-June 2009 recession and how those experiences have shaped their politics in the presidential election just days away. Their answers help illuminate why the race is so close. In this time of great polarization, their stories bridge the partisan divide, showing that resilience and optimism are shared traits, too, and that no one seems to think either candidate can work miracles.

“Our potential doesn’t rely on an election and one man or even a ballot,” said Ben McCoy, 35, of Wilmington, N.C., creative director for 101 Mobility, a company that sells, installs and services handicapped access equipment. “I don’t think either candidate for president has the conviction to go as far as we need to go to really get back to stability.”

Economic well-being, for him, will come from personal decisions by his wife and himself, not Washington. “We will roll up our sleeves and cut the family budget down to the core if we have to, where we know we’re going to eat and we know the lights are going to stay on, and that’s it. We’ll do it. We won’t laugh and dance about it, but we’ll do it.”

In the Charlotte area, the recession played a cruel trick on Obama supporter Tamala Harris, wrecking the Charlotte housing market just after she quit a job to go into selling real estate. It drove Romney supporter Ray Arvin out of business selling industrial equipment from North Carolina and cleaned out his retirement savings with not that many years left to start from scratch. Both have more hope than you might think.

Harris, 38, is back in Charlotte after getting her master’s in business from the University of Rochester in New York. During the worst of the calamity, she used loans and scholarships to advance her education, and looks back on it all as a time that made her dig deep.

“It made me realize what was important,” she said. “It’s just not the material things and having things to improve your status. I know that people are in such a rush to have things. They feel that is a validation — ‘Oh I have this, I have that.’ I was one of them. So, for me, I found it was a time to reflect on your character — and rebuild again. It was a wonderful time to realize when you don’t have certain things — money is not coming, or houses are not selling — who’s really in your corner. ”

Arvin, 47, is starting over, too.

In 2001, he and his wife bought a small company that sold equipment to power utilities and the aviation industry. Business hummed until 2007, when five big customers filed for bankruptcy and the couple raided their retirement and savings accounts to keep the enterprise afloat. It sank in 2009. Now he travels five states in a 2005 Suburban as sales representative for a business supplying equipment to electric and gas companies, bringing home $50,000 to $60,000 after taxes and travel expenses.

“Am I doing better? Yes. But I’ve lost so much. I’m starting new. I’m confident in my ability to work hard and do well with what I do.”


Polls consistently find that the economy is the top concern of voters, and Romney tends to get an edge over Obama when people are asked who might do better with it. Whether that truly drives how Americans vote is a crucial question for Election Day.

Other factors often came into play with the people who talked to AP. Republicans didn’t buy theRomney campaign’s portrayal of Obama as a one-man wrecking crew in economic affairs. Democrats didn’t see him as a savior. They all realize life is more complicated than that.

Beth Ashby, 38, an artist and freelance photographer in North Hollywood, Calif., is a registered Democrat who thinks Obama is bad for her savings. If he’s re-elected, she said, “I think I’m going to be less likely to set money aside in my investments. I might be safer just storing it in the shoe box under the bed.”

Romney, she said, “seems to have a head for business.” But he’s turned her off on environmental issues, abortion and “some of his comments involving women.” Obama or a third-party unknown will get her vote.

Dave Hinnaland, 51, a fourth-generation sheep and cattle rancher who co-owns the family’s 17,000 working acres outside Circle, Mont., simply seems hard-wired to vote for a Republican president. As the national economy sank, the local economy shot ahead thanks to booming oil production in the Bakken oil fields to the east. The days of $300-a-month house rentals, when people’s pickups were more expensive than their homes, are over.

“When this area was settled 100 or more years ago, there were people who took a chance and moved out here,” he said. “They worked hard and were able to build something for themselves and their families.”

So his message to all in Washington: “Let us have the means and options to chart our own path. Don’t hamstring us with rules and regulations. And let people that are willing to go out to work take a chance, let them have the opportunity to do it. We don’t need a big hand hovering over our head telling us what we can and cannot do.”

If the recession spared oil and gas lands, Kaufmann, of Kunkletown, Pa., saw it coming in the gutter trade, specifically when he started noticing that nearly all of his customers’ checks were drawn on home equity credit lines.

“How long do you think this is going to last?” he recalled asking his wife. “I said, ‘I just did a homeowner, the wife lost her job, and without her job, he can’t afford the mortgage.’ That’s when we started buckling down. I said, ‘You know what? It’s time.’

“What happened is, the banks overextended all these people. People were buying clothes, putting in in-ground pools, putting gutters up where they didn’t need to be replaced. I was putting gutters up when people didn’t need gutters. I would tell them. But they wanted to change the colors. You ride by those houses now and they either have three feet of grass or the windows are boarded up.”

His gross income has been halved since 2006 and 2007. No cruises since he turned 60 five years ago.

Cruises aren’t on the horizon for Cristian Eusebio, 20, either. He makes $10.50 an hour as a bank teller in Springdale, Ark. He lives at home with a father who works at a food-packaging plant that’s been cutting staff and a mother who found work at a warehouse store. The family refinanced before their home mortgage ballooned, skipped a vacation to pay down a debt and pinched pennies.

“It could have gotten worse, but it got better because my mom got a job, my sister got a job and then later in high school, I got a job,” he said. “It has gotten better, but I think it’s just because more of us are working. Some of us pay one bill. The other one pays another.”


In Atlanta, where she serves as event manager for her hotel, Ludlow puts no faith in Romney’s ability to make the economy sound and offers less than ringing praise for the candidate she supports. “He may not personally be the smartest guy about the economy,” she says of Obama, “but what I do appreciate is the fact that he knows when to listen to smarter people.”

Her economic worries transcend politics of the moment. She ticks them off: “The long shift that we’ve had with the globalizing world, going from a manufacturing to a service economy. From a service economy to just a consumer economy, period, that buys more than it produces. And everybody having a job that can be done by a human being, but it’s just more cost-effective to do it with a computer.

“All of those factors float around my head and keep me up some nights,” she said. “The economy is (in) an incredible state of transition that we’ve never seen before. And nobody has any idea what it’s going to look like. When the smoke clears, what are we going to be living in? And nobody seems to have an answer to that. Nobody knows. All you can do is put on a couple of Band-Aids here and try something there, and see what happens. And that makes me nervous.”

If the recession played no favorites among the rich, the poor and those in between, the recovery did. Lost jobs and homes may not have come back but the stock market did, favoring those whose wealth resided in investments.

Carol Clemens, a 66-year-old retiree from Edmond, Okla., and member of the local chapter of an investing club, put money into Ford shares near the bottom of the market in 2009, sold some and has seen the value of the rest grow fivefold. That eased her rough patch. “In short, we’re not better off than we were in 2007, but neither are we destitute, for which we give thanks,” she said. She’s leaning toward Romney.

But investments and politics ebb and flow. Of more concern is the nation’s future. She’s the mother of grown children who “are not as conscious of saving as we were at their ages,” and of grandchildren who are entering higher education. She laments class divisions played up in the campaign — the stigmatization of the poor, the dissing of the rich — and thinks the country needs a deeper fix than any one leader can achieve.

“Americans have got to start taking full responsibility for our messes,” she said. “We vote in ineffective politicians, we tolerate second-rate educational systems, we envy those who have worked to have more and resent those who burden our social services because they have great needs.

“I would hope that the next president would have the guts to call us on our blindness and narrow visions,” said Clemens. “We have to regain our ability to stop, consider and give a damn if we are going to change things.”


Woodward reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Michael Rubinkam, Dave Carpenter in Chicago, Matt Sedensky in West Palm Beach, Fla., Michael Sandler in Richmond, Va., Tom Krisher and Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit, Alex Veiga in Los Angeles, Matthew Brown in Billings, Mont., Jeannie Nuss in Little Rock, Ark., and Mark Jewell in Boston contributed to this report.



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