Religion Today Daily Headlines - January 9, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - January 9, 2013

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

In today's edition:

  • Planned Parenthood Reports Record Year for Abortions
  • Ordinary Muslims in Indonesia Violating Rights, Study Finds
  • Supreme Court to Hear Same-Sex Marriage Cases in Late March
  • Supreme Court Declines Embryonic Stem Cell Case


Planned Parenthood Reports Record Year for Abortions

Planned Parenthood has reported a record year for abortions, according to CBN News. The abortion provider's annual report shows 333,964 abortions were performed in the 2011 to 2012 fiscal year -- pushing its figures to 995,687 abortions in three years. At the same time, contraceptive services at Planned Parenthood have dropped 12 percent since 2009, and cancer screening and prevention services have dropped 29 percent. Planned Parenthood reported a record $542 million in taxpayer funding last year -- which, according to the pro-life organization Susan B. Anthony List, is 45 percent of Planned Parenthood's annual revenue. "While government subsidies to Planned Parenthood have reached an all-time high, so too has the number of lives ended by this profit-driven abortion business," said SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser. "Destroying nearly 1 million children in three years is not health care and does not reflect a concern for vulnerable women and girls."

Ordinary Muslims in Indonesia Violating Rights, Study Finds

Concerns are growing over at least 50 cases of religious freedom violations against Christians in Indonesia last year, as not only extremists but ordinary Muslims were responsible for many of the acts of intolerance and violence, according to a recent study, Morning Star News reports. Cases of intolerance against Christians remained high in the country in 2012, said Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Jakarta-based group Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace. Christians were targeted in at least 50 of 264 cases of religious freedom violations in 2012, more than any other group. While Indonesia's Muslim-majority population is believed to be largely tolerant, a trend is emerging of ordinary local Muslims leading violent attacks, not just outside extremist groups, the report found. Many violent attacks were carried out with impunity by local Sunni Muslims, indicating that "the virus of intolerance" has trickled down from extremists to ordinary residents, Naipospos said.

Supreme Court to Hear Same-Sex Marriage Cases in Late March

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in late March in a pair of cases challenging laws that define marriage as a union of a man and a woman, Reuters reports. On March 26, the court will review California's Proposition 8, the ban on gay marriage that voters narrowly approved in 2008. That case could give the court a chance to accept or reject a constitutional right to same-sex marriage or issue a narrower ruling affecting only the state of California. On March 27, the court will review a New York court ruling striking down a centerpiece of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies married same-sex couples a variety of federal benefits that heterosexual couples receive. Decisions in both cases are expected by the end of June.

Supreme Court Declines Embryonic Stem Cell Case

The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a case about the Obama administration's funding of embryonic stem cell research, thereby allowing the continued use of taxpayer dollars for studies that require the destruction of human embryos, Baptist Press reports. Two scientists have been challenging the funding, saying the Obama administration's policy violates the 1996 Dickey-Wicker Amendment, which bars federal funds for "research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death." The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in August upheld a federal judge's dismissal of a legal challenge to Obama's 2009 executive order that overturned a more restrictive funding policy under President George W. Bush and allowed continued funding for research on stem cells derived from embryos created by in vitro fertilization. "Americans should not be forced to pay for experiments that destroy human life, have produced no real-world treatments, and violate federal law -- especially in burdened fiscal times like these," said Steven H. Aden, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, which helped litigate the case against the Obama administration.

Publication date: January 9, 2013