This week's edition of The 3 includes news of the exoneration of players at the U.S. Air Force Academy who wished to pray before games. Also, it's a new record for Operation Christmas Child in the number of shoebox gifts collected. And, the couple who would not bake a cake for a gay wedding ceremony has paid their fine, but their fight is not over.
3 - Air Force Academy turns away complaint about players' prayer before football games
There was concern expressed recently about players on the Air Force Academy football team gathering to pray before their games. According to CBN.com, the Academy investigated the complaint, but said players are allowed to follow their own religious beliefs.
The complaint came from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which called the prayers illegal and unconstitutional. MRFF President Mikey Weinstein, an Air Force Academy alumnus and former military lawyer, had called the practice of Christian cadets assuming a posture of prayer on one knee a "disgrace" and a "putrid example of fundamentalist Christian supremacy, triumphalism and exceptionalism."
2 - Samaritan's Purse announces record number of shoeboxes collected in 2015
Operation Christmas Child, the ministry outreach of Samaritan's Purse, in which shoebox gifts are distributed to needy children around the world in the name of Jesus, has set a record in shoebox collections for 2015. The Christian Post reports that Operation Christmas Child will distribute gift-filled shoeboxes to needy children in as many as 130 countries across the world in the coming year.
Operation Christmas Child Domestic Director Randy Riddle told the Post that as of this past Tuesday, over 11.2 million shoeboxes have been donated in 2015, which sets a new operation yearly record. This contrasts with 10.5 million shoeboxes filled in 2014.
Riddle added that the organization also surpassed its goal of receiving 8.6 million donated shoeboxes from people in the United States in 2015. The remaining three-plus million gift boxes came from donors in Australia, Finland, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Spain and the United Kingdom.
1 - Bakers fined for not providing cake for lesbian wedding ceremony pay under duress
Perhaps you've been following the saga of Aaron and Melissa Klein of Oregon. Because, based on their faith convictions, they chose not to provide a cake for a gay marriage ceremony, they were fined $135,000 by Oregon's Bureau of Labor and Industries.
Well, recently, it was reported that the Kleins had paid the judgment, plus interest - almost $137,000, according to a story on the WORLD Magazine website. The report says that just weeks before Christmas, the state labor commissioner who brought the case against them seized their bank accounts. The article cited a piece on the Fox News website from Todd Starnes, which said that the confiscation wiped out nearly $7,000 of the family’s funds. Melissa Klein told Starnes: "It was like my breath was taken away," adding, "I panicked. Everything was gone."
Money raised through donations to help pay the fine was held in a separate account. WORLD had reported in July that the Kleins had raised $390,000 through a crowdfunding site called, Continue to Give, after another effort with GoFundMe had been shut down.
Attorney Tyler Smith, who represents the Kleins, said in a prepared statement: "The least expensive option to stay in compliance with the law was to pay the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries funds that will be kept in a separate account until they prevail in their court appeal."