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Mark Zuckerberg no longer atheist, announces revelation on Facebook

The holiday season has brought a religious revelation for followers of Mark Zuckerberg.

The Facebook creator announced on his social media account that he is an atheist no longer, The Telegraph and other media outlets are reporting.

>> Read more trending stories 

Zuckerberg posted a Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah message recently.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from Priscilla, Max, Beast and me! Seeing the moments of joy and family shared on...Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Sunday, December 25, 2016

The post prompted questions from followers as to whether Zuckerberg has returned to religion after years of not practicing and posting his religious beliefs as atheist. 

Zuckerberg responded that he was raised Jewish, but didn't follow this upbringing after questioning what he called things. Now he said he thinks religion is important.

His wife Priscilla Chan is Buddhist, and he has praised the religion, The Telegraph reported.

Zuckerberg also met with Pope Francis last year to discuss bringing the internet to developing countries, The Associated Press reported.

Ivanka Trump reflects on 2016, shares New Year's Eve, Hanukkah family photo

Ivanka Trump looked back on 2016 and shared a family photo in social media posts Saturday as she celebrated New Year's Eve and the last night of Hanukkah with her husband and children.

In one post, Trump, Jared Kushner and their stood happily in front of a menorah.

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“New Year’s Eve + Last Night of Chanukah,” she wrote on Instagram.

>> Click here or scroll down for more

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'Leah Remini: Scientology': Ex-church members accuse David Miscavige of physical abuse

In the latest episode of “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath,” Leah Remini and Mike Rinder talked to individuals with formerly strong ties to the church who outlined how they were abused by the church and its leader.

Remini and Rinder talked to former members Jeff Hawkins, Tom DeVocht and Ron Miscavige, father of current leader David Miscavige, who shared shocking personal stories.

“[David] was a mean guy,” said Hawkins, who was a member of the church for three decades. “David Miscavige physically assaulted me five separate times.”

DeVocht, who was also a member of the church for three decades, shared how he forgot to get a permit to tear up the sidewalk outside of the Scientology headquarters in Florida. When he was asked if he had gotten it, he replied, “No,” and before he could say anything else, David Miscavige started attacking him.

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“Before I could even think, he dove across the table, grabbed my [expletive] tie, and shoved it up. And I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t talk,” DeVocht said.

The church refuted DeVocht’s and Hawkins’ claims, writing in a statement, “Lying is nothing new for Hawkins, who has been a discredited anti-Scientology media source for years. His fabricated stories about having been a victim of violence as a staff member were debunked more than a decade ago.”

The church also refuted DeVocht’s claims and said that he is “a violent, admitted liar who left the church in 2005 following an investigation into his extensive waste of church funds. Compulsive lying permeates nearly every aspect of DeVocht’s life. To use him as a source is an indication of how tainted your program promises to be.”

David’s father, Ron Miscavige, a church member for 42 years who left in 2011, also made disturbing claims against the church, sharing that his departure from the church was planned out for six months because he feared what would happen when he did.

“If the word got out that we were planning on leaving, we would’ve been seized,” Ron Miscavige said. “My car keys would’ve been taken away. Becky and I would’ve been separated from each other, and we would’ve done manual labor throughout the day, and when we weren’t [doing] that, we’d be interrogated by an auditor.”

The church, once again, released a statement that attempted to paint Ron Miscavige in a bad light, writing that he has a “decade-long history of vicious domestic violence,” a “long history of anti-Semitic comments and actions” and a “shocking history of racist comments.”

A new episode of “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” airs on A&E on Tuesday, Dec. 27. Learn more about the show here.

WATCH: Boy 'rescues' Baby Jesus, Nativity scene from cold outdoors

Many people display Nativity scenes in their yard for the holiday season, but one boy was perplexed to see Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph out in the cold.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

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A video posted last week by Rumble user Gregory Hogan shows the boy working for several minutes to carry the three statuettes to his front door. Then he brings them inside.

>> Click here to watch the heartwarming video

Source: Little boy unhappy that Baby Jesus & Family are out in the cold by gregoryhogan on Rumble

Jesus statue still standing after wildfire destroys Tennessee home

Not a day goes by that it doesn’t seem like more bad news comes from the ashes of the recent wildfires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. While numbers continue to rise, The Associated Press reports that 14 people are dead and 134 injured.

But one sight is giving some residents hope.

>> After wildfires, Dollywood worker finds lone, charred Bible page at park

According to CNN, a television crew was recently on the ground in Sevier County, where several homes burned to the ground. But the crew came across a statue of Jesus still standing among the ruins of a house.

The story touched country music singer Brad Paisley, who recently tweeted a link to the article with the simple words, "Finding some hope within the ashes."

>> Read more trending stories

This wasn't the only heavenly sight amid the rubble. A theme park employee said he found a charred Bible page while cleaning up the mostly spared Dollywood, whose very own Dolly Parton has pledged to financially help the families affected until they can begin to get back on their feet.

After wildfires, Dollywood worker finds lone, charred Bible page at park

After devastating wildfires blazed through Gatlinburg, Tennessee, a worker cleaning up Dollywood theme park in nearby Pigeon Forge found what he believes may be a sign from above – a sole, burned Bible page.

>> Dolly Parton grieves as wildfire tears through her Tennessee hometown

"I just found this while helping our House and Grounds team clean different areas of Dollywood Theme Park," Isaac McCord, a human resources training coordinator at the park, wrote Tuesday on Facebook. "It was under a bench soaking wet. Talk about goosebumps ..."

In light of recent events, the message from the first chapter of the Book of Joel hit home: "O Lord, to thee will I cry: For the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field."

>> See the Facebook post here

I just found this while helping our House and Grounds team clean different areas of Dollywood Theme Park. It was under a...Posted by Isaac McCord on Tuesday, November 29, 2016

According to the Knoxville News-Sentinel, McCord, 24, showed the page to another employee, Misty Carver.

"We were like, 'This is unreal; this is unbelievable,'" McCord told the News-Sentinel. "When we had both fully read it, we looked at each other – and I will never forget this moment – we both burst into tears. I was ghost-white, and we just prayed. There was nothing else to do."

Two other workers who later saw the page confirmed McCord's story.

>> Read more trending stories

McCord said the discovery "is something I'll remember for the rest of my life."

"I wanted to share this message because I think that faith and hope is very powerful in a situation like this," he said. "There are hundreds of people that are displaced and that have lost their homes. Most of these people will cling to faith."

>> Gatlinburg aquarium: 'Animals are safe' after devastating Tennessee wildfires

Read more here.

Posted by Isaac McCord on Friday, August 19, 2016

Researchers excavate Jesus' tomb

Archeologists and restoration teams are getting to the innermost chamber of the tomb that held Jesus. 

Many thought the cave where the faithful laid Jesus' body after he was taken down from the crucifix was destroyed ages ago, but after digging through marble and using ground-penetrating radar, an archeologist confirmed that the cave existed, The Associated Press reported.

"We can't say 100 percent, but it appears to be visible proof that the location of the tomb has not shifted through time, something that scientists and historians have wondered for decades." Fredrik Hiebert, National Geographic's archaeologist-in-residence said.

"This is the Holy Rock that has been revered for centuries, but only now can actually be seen," Antonia Moropoulou said. Moropoulou is in charge of the conservation and restoration of the Edicule, the chamber that houses the cave where Jesus was entombed and and believed by Christians to be resurrected, now under the Church of the Holy Sepluchre

The church dates back to the 12th century and sits on top of 4th-century remains. Six different Christian denominations practice their faith at the same site.

>> Read more trending stories  

The Edicule was last restored in 1810 after a fire. Now it is in need of reinforcement after exposure to humidity and candle smoke, The AP reported.

It was reinforced in 1947 by a British team using an iron cage built around the cave, but it is not enough.

This week, workers slid open a marble slab hoping to reach the chamber itself. The marble hadn't been moved since 1550. Under that, they found debris and another slab. That slab dates to the 12th century and covered another layer, National Geographic reported.

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The team had a total of 60 hours to excavate the inner tomb. It was closed after being fully documented, resealed in the original marble, National Geographic reported.

One part of the tomb will be visible to pilgrims. Experts cut a window in one of the Edicule's marble walls to they can see part of the limestone wall of the tomb. It is the first time the faithful can glimpse the tomb, The AP reported.

National Geographic documented the site on video. 

Read more on the discovery here and here.

WATCH: Man's video of heavenly sight in clouds goes viral

A South Carolina man's video of a heavenly figure in the sky is going viral.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

According to "Today," Cory Hearon, 37, captured a Facebook Live video of a cloud that resembles an angel hovering over the city of Camden. 

>> Read more trending stories

"I almost didn't video it," Hearon said. "It was the first time I had seen something that remarkable with my own two eyes."

The clip has been shared more than 260,000 times and has more than 7.5 million views. 

Read more here.

>> Click here to watch

<script>(function(d, s, id) {</span><br /><span>  var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];</span><br /><span>  if (d.getElementById(id)) return;</span><br /><span>  js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;</span><br /><span>  js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&amp;version=v2.8";</span><br /><span>  fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);</span><br /><span>}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));</script> AngelPosted by Cory Hearon on Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The religious economy is worth $1.2 trillion

How much is religion worth?

The answer is more than megacompanies Apple and Microsoft make in a year combined.

recent study of the U.S. faith economy found religious goods, services and institutions are worth $1.2 trillion a year.

>> Read more trending stories  

Religion might affect America's economy more than you realize. Congregations alone employ hundreds of thousands of people and purchase billions of dollars in goods.

Faith-based elementary schools receive over $15 billion in tuition annually, and that doesn't include middle schools or high schools.

Kosher and halal food sales account for almost another $15 billion. The study's authors didn't include holiday-centered food sales, either, like your usual Christmas dinner menu. That would dramatically increase the faith economy's worth.

Religious health care networks also bring in over $160 billion each year.

Plus, 20 of America's 50 largest charities are faith-based -- accounting for another $45 billion.

The researchers acknowledged their $1.2 trillion estimate is actually a conservative one. Their figure didn't account for the value of religious groups' physical or financial assets, which could make the estimate significantly bigger.

Boy thinks pastor is taking too long, baptizes himself

A Kentucky boy wasn't waiting for anyone during his baptismal ceremony Sunday.

Jordan Warrick, 6, apparently thought the pastor at the West End Baptist Church was taking too long for the big event so he took matters into his own hands.

>> Read more trending stories  

Jordan baptized himself in the church's baptismal pool and the event was caught on video and posted to Facebook where it has nearly 5 million views.

My son gave his life to Jesus today.                     For licsensing inquiries please contact licensing@junkinmedia.comPosted by Terence D Warrick on Sunday, September 4, 2016

He first waded into the chilly water before calling out to the congregation "I'll do it." He then dunked himself, coming up out of the water with raised arms and heading to get dried off, the Courier-Journal reported.

Jordan is active in his church. He sings in the children's choir and is a junior usher. He was also the one who decided he was ready to be baptized. His aunt told the Courier-Journal that Jordan wants to be a missionary and spread the word of Christ.

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