Religion Today Daily Headlines - July 12, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - July 12, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Episcopal Church Clears Way to Ordain Transgenders
  • Americans Continue to Reduce Giving to Churches
  • Open Doors USA Launches 30 Days of Prayer for Persecuted Christians During Ramadan
  • Boko Haram Takes Credit for Nigeria Village Attacks


Episcopal Church Clears Way to Ordain Transgenders

The Episcopal Church approved Monday at its national convention an official prayer service for blessing same-sex couples and also cleared the way for transgender ordination, reports. At the Episcopal General Convention in Indianapolis, the House of Bishops voted 111-41, with three abstentions, to authorize a provisional rite for same-sex unions within the next three years, which, if approved by convention deputies, will become the first such official prayer for use by the entire church. In a separate vote, the full convention approved new anti-discrimination language for transgendered clergy candidates and church members. Some dioceses already ordain transgendered people or elect them to positions of parish leadership, but advocates for the amendment argued they needed an explicit statement of acceptance as the church-wide policy.

Americans Continue to Reduce Giving to Churches

The economy continues to impact Americans' giving to churches and nonprofit organizations, according to a recent Barna Group survey showing that one-third of those surveyed had reduced the amount they gave to churches in the past three months, Baptist Press reports. "Americans' considerable charitable behavior remains intact, but each year seems to bring new economic burdens to donors," said David KinnamanBarna's president. "Church donors stayed more consistent in their giving than did those donating to nonprofits. However, church donors are now showing increasing fatigue. We expect the next six months to be continued cautiousness for donors of all types." Barna also found that one-third of the roughly 1,000 adults surveyed said they had been affected in a major way by the economic downturn, that 41 percent of adults had reduced giving to nonprofits in the last three months as a result of the economy, and that 11 percent had completely dropped all giving to churches in recent months. In the fall of 2008, just 4 percent had cut giving to churches entirely.

Open Doors USA Launches 30 Days of Prayer for Persecuted Christians During Ramadan

From July 20 until August 18, Muslims around the world will be observing the Muslim month of Ramadan, a time when most Muslims refrain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset and practice humility and submissiveness to Allah. During the 30 days of Ramadan, Open Doors USA is launching a prayer campaign for persecuted Christians in Muslim-majority countries as well as praying that Muslims will find the real God. "During the season of Ramadan let us first lift up in prayer our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in Islamic-dominated nations; strengthening them, empowering them, comforting them and encouraging them," said Open Doors USA president/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller. "Also, pray for Muslims. There are millions of Muslims who have never experienced real peace and joy in knowing a loving God and having Jesus as their Savior." Ramadan can be a difficult time for marginalized Christians; persecution is often heightened because Christians do not fast or observe the Muslim traditions, and they can be targeted by their government, community and family. "During Ramadan we need to be more careful in carrying out our church activities, especially in conducting seminars, training and other programs," said one Christian in an Islamic country.

Boko Haram Takes Credit for Nigeria Village Attacks

The Islamic extremist group Boko Haram is claiming responsibility for recent coordinated attacks against Christian villages in Nigeria's Plateau State, CBN News reports. Last Saturday, hundreds of assailants armed with guns and machetes stormed a dozen Christian villages in the city of Jos, killing 58 people. "We thank [Allah] for our success in the attack on Christians at Barikin Ladi and Riyom, whereby security agents, Christians and two state and national assembly members were killed," Boko Haram said in a letter signed by its leader, Abul Qaqa, on Tuesday. "We are also informing Christians all over the country to embrace Islam or they will be attacked. If they fail to do so, there is nobody to blame but themselves." At a June congressional hearing, Ayo Oritsejafor, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria, urged U.S. lawmakers to officially declare Boko Haram a terrorist organization. To date, the U.S. State Department has only designated three Boko Haram leaders as terrorists. "By refusing to designate Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organization, the United States is sending a very clear message not just to the federal government of Nigeria but to the world that the murder of innocent Christians and Muslims who reject Islamism -- and I make a clear distinction here between Islamism and Islam -- are accepted losses," Oritsejafor said.

Publication date: July 12, 2012