Religion Today Daily Headlines - January 29, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - January 29, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • Egypt's Morsi Declares State of Emergency Amid Protests
  • Boy Scouts of America Considering Ending Ban on Gay Members
  • Andy Stanley Explains 'Pastor in Chief' Quote
  • Muslim Group Threatens Egypt's Coptic Christians, Tells Them to 'Pay Tribute'


Egypt's Morsi Declares State of Emergency Amid Protests

Two years after the overthrow of former president Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's Islamist president Mohammed Morsi is facing a wave of protests against him and his government, CBN News reports. Over the weekend, Morsi declared a state of emergency in the cities of Port Said, Suez and Ismailia and imposed a 30-day curfew after clashes between anti-government protesters and Morsi's security forces left at least 33 dead. For the fourth consecutive day, tens of thousands of protesters clashed with police in Cairo's Tahrir Square, and demonstrations also took place in the cities of Alexandria, Menouf and Shibeen el-Koum, where protesters disrupted train service to and from Cairo. Opposition leader Hamdeen Sabahi said Egyptians are saying no to an Islamic state, and protesters want to convey their anger toward the Muslim Brotherhood's attempt to take over the government. "A big part of the population hates [Morsi] now," said protester Tarik Salama. "It's too late for him to turn around and say, 'Hey guys, I love you.' He's in the same place as Mubarak was two years ago."

Boy Scouts of America Considering Ending Ban on Gay Members

The Boy Scouts of America is considering dropping a longtime ban on gay members and discussing whether to allow local organizations to decide their own policy, Fox News reports. Spokesman Deron Smith said Monday: "The BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, but that the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization's mission, principles or religious beliefs." Smith added that the organization has been in contact with families to determine its best interests. "BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit which best meets the needs of their families," he said. 

Andy Stanley Explains 'Pastor in Chief' Quote

Last week, Atlanta pastor Andy Stanley preached at President Barack Obama's pre-inaugural church service at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., during which he said the president should be called "pastor in chief" for his leadership following the Newtown shooting. After Stanley's remarks caused a whirlwind of criticism, he responded in an interview with Christianity Today, saying his comments were taken out of context. "[At the pre-inaugural service] I knew that I didn't want to get up and just launch into a sermon," Stanley said. "When you're in an environment where you have no personal connection with anyone in the room -- and I certainly didn't -- as  a speaker, you want to find a personal connection. I thought, 'Well, here is something that I felt deeply and here we have all these clergy on this stage.' So I said something like, 'Mr. President, I don't know the first thing about being president, but I know a bit about being a pastor. And during the Newtown vigil on December 16 after we heard what you did -- I just want to say on behalf of all of us as clergy, thank you.' And I added, 'I turned to [my wife] Sandra that night and said, "Tonight he's the pastor in chief."' So that's the context. I wasn't making a declaration that he's our pastor in chief. But I can understand how that got reported."

Muslim Group Threatens Egypt's Coptic Christians, Tells Them to 'Pay Tribute'

An armed Islamic movement calling itself the "Brigade of Muslims" released a statement on Saturday threatening Egypt's Coptic Christians and asking them to pay tribute, the Christian Post reports. "Egypt is an Islamic country and will be ruled according to sharia," the statement said. The movement threatened all Egyptian media professionals who "mock religion and Islamic rule," warning that their persistence in mocking would result in the "shedding of their blood in the ugliest way." The movement said it was established because of the strife being plotted against the country and the plans of enemies of Islam, both at home and abroad. It noted its approach was jihad, and that it would fight the Egyptian army and Interior Ministry if they did not stand up to "Copts and their helpers."

Publication date: January 29, 2013