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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Somehow, zillions of reporters in Bethlehem missed this story

From Holy Land Missions, December 21:
Pressure from the local community is forcing the hands of the Bethlehem municipality to take down a large Christmas billboard sign that has Jesus on it.

"€œIn the birthplace of Christianity, we have seen over the years that the Christmas holiday has been reduced to snowmen and bells,€" said Pastor Steven Khoury of Holy Land Missions; the ministry behind putting the 1200 square foot sign up. He added, "€œThe essential message of the holiday season has been taken away for fear of what the dominant factors in Bethlehem would say."

Vandals had cut the electric cable surrounding the sign to ensure that it would not be lit up during the night. Barraged with phone calls from the local community, the municipality informed Pastor Khoury that many are campaigning asking us to take down the sign. ...The billboard sign is located at Manger Square with the slogan "Jesus born to die and rose again. Invite him into your heart so you might live - Merry Christmas"€ has caused some people to come out of their cars and take pictures.

Out of fear of repercussions, no one is willing to sell electricity access to the billboard. So Pastor Khoury has been going out with a portable generator and several high beam spotlights and lighting the sign up himself. Anticipating that the sign might be coming down any time, Khoury quickly did one last film next to the billboard sign.


How did every single reporter in Bethlehem miss a story about a pastor who was trying to put up a billboard with a Christian message?

It has an attractive protagonist, who speaks English well. It is an underdog story. It is about freedom of religion. It has the irony of Jesus being absent from Bethlehem. This story is made for TV and print media.

There must be a reason why the reporters ignored this story. Perhaps because of the types of people who are against the sign? Pastor Khoury doesn't identify them, so it is unclear who they are.  All we know is that they are dominant in Bethlehem (so they can't be Christians), that they are from the local community (so they can't be Jews)  that they are threatening those who support the message with violence (so they can't be Quakers,) and that reporters are reluctant to report when these people are acting against freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

This is a tough one.

(h/t Petra)