Religion Today Daily Headlines - August 24, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - August 24, 2012

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.

In today's edition:

  • U.S. Embassies Around the World Close for Muslim Eid al-Fitr Holiday
  • 11-Year-Old Pakistani Christian Girl Remains Jailed
  • Study: Most Americans Own Bibles but Won't Vote for Obama or Romney Based on Them
  • Dozens Die, Thousands Displaced in Niger Floods


U.S. Embassies Around the World Close for Muslim Eid al-Fitr Holiday

According to WORLD Magazine, a number of U.S. embassies around the world -- including in countries without Muslim majorities, like the Philippines and Nigeria -- closed for the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday this week. The U.S. Embassy in Estonia sent out Eid greetings, and in Kabul an Eid greeting from the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan issued condolences for Muslim civilians killed during Ramadan and Eid. However, there was no acknowledgment of possible holiday-related fatalities of U.S. troops there, which stand at 42 already for the month of August.

11-Year-Old Pakistani Christian Girl Remains Jailed

Controversy continues to swirl around Pakistan's blasphemy law after the arrest of a young Christian girl for allegedly defiling words from the Quran, Baptist Press reports. Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari has asked the country's Interior Ministry for a report about the August 16 arrest of Rimsha Masih, described in various media reports as an 11-year-old with Down syndrome. The case began when Rimsha's landlord's nephew said he saw her holding a burned copy of an Islamic religious text that included quoations from the Quran, then informed a local cleric who gathered a mob and demanded the police take action. Rimsha was arrested and charged with blasphemy, and her parents were placed in protective custody. Though Pakistani police and government officials say the accusations are baseless and the case will probably be dropped, Nina Shea, director of the Hudson Institute's Center for Religious Freedom, suggested an ominous fate for the girl. Any person accused of blasphemy -- especially Christians and other religious minorities -- faces murder by vigilantes even if he or she is merely accused or even acquitted. The high rate of vigilantism surrounding the blasphemy law serves as an easy way to persecute religious minorities with false accusations or settle personal scores, various media noted. According to reports, hundreds of Christians have fled Rimsha's neighborhood in fear of attacks by angry Muslims, and it is likely she and her family will never be able to return home.

Study: Most Americans Own Bibles but Won't Vote for Obama or Romney Based on Them

According to a new survey by the American Bible Society called "State of the Bible 2012," 85 percent of American households own a Bible, but nearly eight in 10 in Americans do not believe the Bible plays a role in telling them who to vote for in this year's presidential election, Christianity Today reports. Eight in 10 people surveyed also said they believe the Bible is "sacred or holy." In contrast, only 10 percent said the same about the Quran, and 6 percent believe the same for the Book of Mormon -- but in spite of this, nearly half expressed a belief that "the Bible, the Quran and the Book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same spiritual truths" and are in total agreement. Seventy-nine percent of adults consider themselves at least "somewhat knowledgeable" about the Bible, yet less than half could name the first five books of the Old Testament.

Dozens Die, Thousands Displaced in Niger Floods

For more than a month, residents in Niger have suffered deadly flooding, and officials don't expect much relief in coming days, CBN News reports. At least 31 people have died and around 100,000 others have been left homeless as a result of the floods. The Federal Ministry of Environment predicted heavy downpour for 23 states through August 27 and warned that continued flooding is likely. "Floods are affecting all regions of the country," said Modibo Traore, head of the Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs. Niger president Mahamadou Issou said $1.1 million in aid would be set aside, but admitted it wouldn't be enough; OCHA also warned the flooding would have a "negative effect on the food situation" already impacting residents. CBN Afrique is among ministries preparing to send funds for flood relief to the central African nation.

Publication date: August 24, 2012