Religion Today Daily Headlines - December 5, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - December 5, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Unhappy Egyptians Given Two Weeks to Consider Divisive Constitution That Elevates Sharia
  • Poll: Most Americans Say Employers Should Cover Contraception
  • Santa Monica's 60-Year-Old Nativity Scenes Move to Private Property
  • California Gay Therapy Ban Temporarily Blocked


Unhappy Egyptians Given Two Weeks to Consider Divisive Constitution That Elevates Sharia

Given just two weeks to consider a draft constitution that will be put to a national referendum Dec. 15, Egyptians were taking to the streets in large numbers Tuesday to protest the latest development in their country's chaotic political transition, reports. Drafted by ultra-conservative Islamists despite concerns of many non-Muslims and liberals, the constitution has deepened divisions in Egyptian society. Voicing support are president Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafist Nour Party, the two parties which together dominated the elected legislature -- whose future remains uncertain since a Supreme Constitutional Court ruling last June -- and several prominent Islamic leaders. Opponents of the constitution and referendum plan include Coptic Christians, some minority Shia and Sufi Muslims, liberal and secular political parties, and two former presidential hopefuls, Amr Moussa and Mohamed ElBaradei. The judiciary also appears to be divided, with some judges saying they will refuse to oversee the referendum, as required by law, but the Supreme Judicial Council was reported Monday to have agreed to supervise the process. The rush to push ahead with the constitution followed Morsi's controversial Nov. 22 decree granting himself extensive new powers and exempting his decisions from judicial review.

Poll: Most Americans Say Employers Should Cover Contraception

Most Americans say that employers -- even religious ones -- should provide birth control coverage to their employees, according to a LifeWay Research survey released Dec. 3, the Religion News Service reports. As part of Barack Obama's signature healthcare reform law, new regulations require most employers, including some religious ones, to provide birth control coverage. Dozens of Catholic dioceses, as well as Christian colleges and business owners who oppose contraception on moral or religious grounds, have sued to block the mandate from taking effect. Most Americans, however, believe that businesses (63 percent), nonprofit organizations (56 percent) and even religious schools, hospitals and charities (53 percent) should provide birth control coverage to employees for free. Women are more likely than men to "strongly agree" that such coverage be provided, the poll found. According to Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, "The American public appears unaware or unconcerned that some religious organizations and family businesses indicate fear of losing the freedom to practice their faith under the new healthcare regulations."

Santa Monica's 60-Year-Old Nativity Scenes Move to Private Property

Despite having to relocate to private property after losing a legal battle, the 60-year-old Santa Monica tradition of displaying a nativity scene during the Christmas season will continue, the Christian Post reports. Since 1953, the city has allowed a nativity scene to be displayed in Palisades Park, but that ended last year after a dispute between churches and atheists over whether the display belonged on public land. When a group of atheists overwhelmed the city's lottery system to win most of the available display space in the park, then erected some anti-religious displays and left most of their space empty, controversy erupted; the city then banned private, unattended displays at the park. A Los Angeles federal judge dismissed a Christian group's lawsuit to force Santa Monica to reopen spaces for the displays, but the decision was expected to be appealed. Meanwhile, the Santa Monica Nativity Scenes Committee said the nativity scene display would debut Sunday at a location on the 2700 block of Ocean Park Boulevard, and would remain there until after Christmas. "The community Christmas tradition will return to full strength this year with 14 scenes featuring life-size figures depicting events surrounding Christ's birth," organizers said.

California Gay Therapy Ban Temporarily Blocked

A federal judge has issued a temporary injunction against a California law that bans counselors from using reparative therapy to help minors combat unwanted same-sex attractions, CBN News reports. U.S. District Court Judge William Shubb said protecting the free speech rights of counselors outweighed concerns that the practice could harm young people. The California legislature had said that therapy helping teens overcome same-sex attraction could lead to depression and even suicide, but Shubb said that claim was based on "questionable and scientifically incomplete studies." The injunction applies only to three counselors -- psychiatrist Anthony Duk, marriage and family therapist Donald Welch, and Aaron Bitzer, a former patient who is studying to become a counselor. The three sought to overturn the law, which will remain in force until a trial.

Publication date: December 5, 2012