(image by Topekas News)
What's the matter with Kansas, part 34,567. A Kansas town has installed phone booths, rather prayer booths, so people can place calls directly to the Almighty. The best part? No, not the free long distance, the booth comes equipped with a comfy drop-down kneel bench so you can assume the proper postulative position while dialing the deity of your understanding.
Thanks to their local legislators, folks in one Kansas City Township no longer have to wait for Church to call on God. They can enter any of the phone booths installed in their area to speak to the Omnipotent One.
Since these prayer phone booths were set up a few months ago, traffic has been nonstop and, according to the Topekas News, more than 100,000 callers visit per week.
"One resident who frequents the booth told the paper she forgot to pray for Peyton Manning's ankle to remain hurt so that he would be unable to play her home team, which resulted in a loss for the Chiefs.
Since the booths were put in throughout town several months ago, Kansas City data tracking confirms that on average, the prayer booths receive over 100,000 callers per week. 'It is therapeutic, that is how we lobbied them through city council,' local pastor Reverend Miles Collier reports. 'We said these prayer booths are not just for Christians, but for any person to take a break to close their eyes, ask out loud for what they need in life and just take a break from it all. It is like having a free counseling session.'"
Free, taxpayer-funded, invisible counseling. Gotta love Kansas, the state that just keeps on coming! Speaking of wacky Midwestern states, Oklahoma lawmakers are pushing another of those "Merry Christmas" bills as a way to reintroduce religious practices in public schools...
"Lawmakers in deep-red Oklahoma are lining up behind new legislation that would grant explicit permission for educators to teach students about Christmas and Hanukkah and observe 'traditional winter celebrations' on public school property.
"Two bills, HB2316 and HB 2317, 'permit school districts to display on school property scenes or symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations,' which the co-sponsors of the bill define to mean Christmas and Hanukkah. The language also states that any religious scene must also depict at least one other religious or secular icon.
"The author of the two bills explained the rationale behind the legislation:
"The purpose of the Oklahoma Merry Christmas bill is to put a beacon of light, a safe harbor, if you will, in the pages of statutes so that our children ... and our parents can run to a lighthouse whose light shines boldly on the pages of Oklahoma's law books and declares that they have a right to express their core beliefs and celebrate winter traditions without fear of lawsuit, retribution or reprisal,' said Rep. Ken Walker, R-Tulsa, during a Capitol press conference.
"After years of waging their phony War on Christmas on the battlefields of Fox News and retail stores, conservatives are opening up a new front: legislative chambers. Earlier this year, Texas passed a similar "Merry Christmas Bill" which sought to preempt potential lawsuits against school districts that insist on using 'Merry Christmas' or erecting explicitly Christian-themed decorations.
"Federal courts have ruled -- repeatedly -- that the preferential treatment of a religious holiday on public property is unconstitutional. The Oklahoma bill's requirement that at least two religions be represented in any holiday display could keep the law within legal boundaries, depending on whether courts think the bill's 'actual purpose is to endorse or disapprove of religion' or that it 'conveys a message of endorsement or disapproval.'
"Still, Oklahoma is hardly a beacon of religious tolerance. In 2010, voters there passed an amendment to the state's constitution that prohibited courts in the state from considering Shariah law, only to have it rejected as unconstitutional by a U.S District Court Judge earlier this year."
Elsewhere, Time magazine has selected Pope Francis as its Person of the Year, edging out the edgier choice, Edward Snowden, as the AP reports:
"The former Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected in March as the first pope from Latin America and the first Jesuit. Since taking over at the Vatican, he has urged the Catholic Church not to be obsessed with 'small-minded rules' and to emphasize compassion over condemnation in dealing with touchy topics like abortion, gays and contraception.
"He has denounced the world's 'idolatry of money' and the 'global scandal' that nearly 1 billion people today go hungry, and has charmed the masses with his simple style and wry sense of humor. His appearances draw tens of thousands of people and his @Pontifex Twitter account recently topped 10 million followers.
"'He really stood out to us as someone who has changed the tone and the perception and the focus of one of the world's largest institutions in an extraordinary way,' said Nancy Gibbs, the magazine's managing editor.
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