Religion Today Daily Headlines - January 2, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - January 2, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • Christianity 'Close to Extinction' in the Middle East
  • Plight of Syrian Christians Intensifies
  • Fathers Vanish in U.S. as Single Motherhood Continues to Rise


Christianity 'Close to Extinction' in the Middle East

According to a new study by the think tank Civitas, Christianity faces being wiped out in the "biblical heartlands" in the Middle East because of mounting persecution of Christians -- with militant Islam the primary reason for the oppression, The Telegraph reports. The report, entitled "Christianophobia," warns that Christians suffer greater hostility around the world than any other religious group, and asserts that politicians have been "blind" to the extent of violence faced by Christians in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. It also claims that oppression in Muslim countries is often ignored because of a fear that criticism will be seen as "racism." Study author Rupert Shortt, a journalist and visiting fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, wrote: "Exposing and combating the problem ought in my view to be political priorities across large areas of the world. That this is not the case tells us much about a questionable hierarchy of victimhood. The blind spot displayed by governments and other influential players is causing them to squander a broader opportunity. Religious freedom is the canary in the mine for human rights generally."

Plight of Syrian Christians Intensifies

The condition of the church in Syria is becoming more and more desperate as Christians, their property and their churches continue to be the targets of violent attacks, ASSIST News Service reports. A senior church leader reported that Christians in Syria face "inflation, poverty, growing of sectarian enmity, shortages of supplies of food and fuel, cold weather, revenge, kidnapping for big amount of ransom, risks of traveling, frequent Internet cut-off and [more]." While the Christian population of the city of Homs was once between 50,000 and 60,000, just 80 Christians remained in a Christian neighborhood of the old city as of December 2012. They are being held hostage by rebels and prevented from leaving, and are dying one by one as a result of serious hardships and lack of medication. According to Barnabas Aid, the Christians are being kept there as "human shields" by Salafist rebel groups to deter government forces from attacking the Christian area, which is now occupied by rebels. But despite the dangers they face, and the fact that many Syrian Christians have fled their homeland, church leaders have refused to leave their people. "It is our vocation to give our testimony," one senior Christian leader said. "We had a lot of persecution in the past and we have to find a way to continue." As observers predict the collapse of the Assad regime, under which Christians in Syria had been well-treated, the future for Christians looks bleak. "Pray that all Christians in Syria will know the Lord's peace in these desperate times, and that He will make a way for them to live in safety in their own country," Barnabas Aid said.

Fathers Vanish in U.S. as Single Motherhood Continues to Rise

In every U.S. state, the portion of families where children have two parents, rather than one, has dropped significantly over the past decade, the Washington Times reports. Even as the country added 160,000 families with children, the number of two-parent households decreased by 1.2 million. Fifteen million U.S. children, or one in three, currently live without a father -- compared to 1960, when just 11 percent of American children lived in homes without fathers. And in an America awash in crime, poverty, drugs and other problems, Vincent DiCaro of the National Fatherhood Institute ultimately points to absent fathers: "[People] look at a child in need, in poverty or failing in school, and ask, 'What can we do to help?' But what we do is ask, 'Why does that child need help in the first place?' And the answer is often because [the child lacks] a responsible and involved father."

Publication date: January 2, 2012