This year was a rough one for many in our local communities. Cultural icons like David Bowie, Leonard Cohen and Prince passed away. It was rife with political tension. Globally, we saw some of the worst terrorist attacks experienced in the last decade.
It’s safe to say that this was a pretty intense year. In the middle of all the intensity, some of the more hopeful headlines get lost in the cracks but we all need more good news in our lives. That’s why we’re sharing our top 8 feel-good 2016 news stories that give us hope for the year ahead.
The priest and imam from that Amazon ad are now actual friends.
Al Jazeera tracked down the actual priest and imam from the commercial, and found out that even though they met for the first time on the set of the commercial, they have since become close friends.
The man punched at a Trump rally forgives his attacker.
Violence and protest was a fairly common occurrence at Donald Trump’s campaign rallies, at one in particular, many may remember video footage of a black man at the rally, later identified as Rakeem Jones, being sucker-punched by a man—John McGraw—as security escorted out of the event in North Carolina. Months later, McGraw has apologized and pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault and battery and disorderly conduct charges. The two even hugged after McGraw’s sentencing and McGraw told Jones, “We’re caught up in a political mess today and you and me, we gotta heal our country.”
President Obama signed the International Religious Freedom Act.
Earlier this month, President Obama officially signed the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, a bill that received bipartisan support for its measures to protect religious minorities from extremism around the world. The core of the bill is to provide tools that will equip and train diplomats to prevent religious persecution. Because of the law, all foreign services officers will be required to undergo religious freedom training.
Church’s viral yard signs let neighbors know they are welcome no matter where they are from.
A church in Virginia has created a powerful yard sign that is now popping up in front of homes in states across the country. The message is simple: “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor.” The simple words of tolerance are printed in Spanish, English and Arabic. The sign campaign is totally organic, not an organized marketing effort. Some people have even printed their own after seeing pictures of the sign on social media. Pastor Matthew Bucher, a leader at the Immanuel Mennonite church responsible for the sign, explained to NPR, “This is a symbol of Jesus’ command to love your neighbor. And as followers of Jesus, we follow someone who was himself a refugee.”
Toddler with Down Syndrome stars in an Oshkosh Campaign.
OshKosh has a new toddler modeling in their most recent campaign. The ad is a familiar one, featuring a cute kid smiling and wearing the company’s famous overalls. What is unique about this ad is that the featured toddler has Down syndrome.
His name is Asher Nash and he is the new face of OshKosh’s holiday line. Initially, Asher was having trouble getting signed to an agency because of his Down syndrome, but that all changed when photos of the toddler went viral on Facebook. OshKosh isn’t the first kid’s company to feature a model with Down syndrome and with all of the positive attention they’ve been receiving it certainly won’t be the last.
Harvard study links church attendance to lower divorce rates.
A recent study from a professor at Harvard School of Public Health has found that married couples who regularly attend religious services together are 47% more likely to not get divorced, than couples who don’t go to church. The study also linked church attendance to lower rates of depression and suicide. Harvard’s Tyler J. VanderWeele told The Christian Post, “Religion is, of course, not principally about promoting physical health or decreasing the likelihood of divorce but about communion with God. However, it turns out that the pursuit of this goal also has profound implications for numerous other aspects of life, including health and marriage.”
Texas Man goes viral after standing up for muslims at a protested Islamic center
In the last year, the Islamic Center of Irving in Texas has been the site of armed protests, where anti-Islam demonstrators gathered to, as they claimed, “Stop the Islamization of America.” Some of the protestors told DallasNews.com that they wanted to prevent Syrian refugees from coming to America, and stood outside of the building in tactical gear. But a man showed up with a sign that bared a different message: “You belong. Stay strong. Be blessed. We are one America.” A photo of the man was posted to Reddit, and following a post by writer Charles Finch, it was retweeted more than 158,000.
A Muslim businessman put up a giant Christmas tree in Iraq to show support for Christians.
A wealthy businessman in Iraq has had one of the largest Christmas trees in the world set up in Baghdad. Yassir Saad explained that his goal is to show Christians in the country that many Muslims are standing with them in solidarity during one of their most important holidays. Christians have routinely been targeted by violence in the country and many have been forced to flee since the rise of ISIS. He explained to the AP that the tree is about “joining our Christian brothers in their holiday celebrations and helping Iraqis forget their anguish, especially the war in Mosul.” He paid $24,000 for the 85-foot-tall tree. An Iraqi woman visiting the amusement park where the tree is located told the AP, “This tree represents love and peace. I wish all Iraqi Christians could return to Iraq and live normal and peaceful lives.”