Signs and Wonders: Geraldo’s Senate bid, tipping in St. Louis, tuition and tax tussle, pastor back to jail

Newsworthy | Warren Cole Smith

Signs and Wonders: Geraldo’s Senate bid, tipping in St. Louis, tuition and tax tussle, pastor back to jail

Geraldo Rivera
Associated Press/Photo by Joe Burbank

Sen. Geraldo? In 1986 Geraldo Rivera hosted a live television “event” in which he went searching for gangster Al Capone’s “vault” beneath Chicago’s Lexington Hotel, which potentially contained money and important Capone documents. It contained neither, which Rivera and 30 million Americans found out at the same time in one of the most anti-climactic endings in television history. The expression “Al Capone’s vault” entered the popular lexicon to describe an event that overpromises and under delivers. That expression could end up describing Rivera’s talk about running for the U.S. Senate. “Buckle your seat belts!” Rivera exclaimed before announcing on his radio show on WABC-AM in New York that he is “truly contemplating” a Senate bid in New Jersey. If Rivera runs, it would be against either Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who at age 89 hasn’t said if he will run again, or Newark Mayor Cory Booker, who is the odds-on favorite for the Democratic nomination if Lautenberg retires.

Behaving badly. A server at an Applebee’s restaurant in St. Louis posted a photo of a customer receipt on the social media site Reddit. The receipt said, “I Give God 10%. Why do you Get 18?” The photo went viral, and now the server, Chelsea Welch, is out of a job and the person who left the receipt has come forward and apologized. Applebee’s defended the decision to fire Welch, saying that customer information is private. The customer, Alois Bell, claims to be the pastor of the small storefront World Deliverance Ministries Church. She also claims that despite the sentiments expressed in her note, she left a tip anyway. Even so, she apologized, saying, “I’ve brought embarrassment to my church and my ministry.” An online petition now asks Applebee’s to give Welch her job back, arguing that the post was an innocent prank and that all involved have now learned their lessons.

Who says? The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) said a Georgia tax credit program should not apply to Christian schools because of the schools’ “draconian anti-gay policies and practices.” In the Georgia program, scholarships are funded by private donations, and the donors get a tax credit. The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) sent a letter to Georgia lawmakers and to Christian schools this week defending the scholarship program and highlighting SEF “mischaracterizations.” ADF senior counsel David Cortman said, “No one should be ostracized because they don’t share the same sexual agenda as an activist group that opposes school choice. The Constitution protects the right of private, Christian schools to teach and follow biblical principles. Any efforts to prevent these schools from participating in the state’s tax credit scholarship program would violate the First Amendment freedoms of these schools and the students who attend them.”

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Pastor jailed for protecting child. Mennonite pastor Kenneth Miller was jailed Thursday for refusing to tell a grand jury what he knows about a woman who fled the country to protect her child from her former lesbian partner. One interesting aspect of this case is the dialogue in the courtroom between Miller, from Stuarts Draft, Va., and U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions III. Sessions had already jailed Miller for refusing to talk. When Miller appeared again before the judge on Thursday, he said the week he has spent in jail has strengthened his resolve that his beliefs require him to follow God’s law when they conflict with civil law. He said he is willing to pay the price, even if it means more time in jail. “If I were to bring testimony against a fellow member of Christ’s kingdom, for honoring Christ’s kingdom’s laws, I would be disloyal to his kingdom and to Christ,” Miller said. Sessions told Miller that the pastor would be recounting the facts, an essential part of the law enforcement process and critical to the smooth functioning of the criminal justice system. “I need to be convinced that a further period [in jail] would not result in your answering questions. I think that you also need to reflect upon the function of our system of justice here, and I am not convinced that that is necessarily inconsistent in this particular context with your religious beliefs,” Sessions said before ordering Miller back to jail. Miller is facing up to three years in prison on his conviction for helping mother and child flee. Sentencing is set for March 4.

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