Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
- White House Announces U.S. Will Provide Military Support to Syrian Rebels
- ACLJ Flooded With New IRS Discrimination Cases
- Brazil: Evangelicals Rally for Marriage
- Boy Scouts 'Disappoint' Southern Baptists
White House Announces U.S. Will Provide Military Support to Syrian Rebels
President Barack Obama has authorized sending U.S. weapons to Syrian rebels for the first time, a U.S. official said Thursday after the White House said it has proof the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against opposition forces fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, Reuters reports. The White House said Washington would provide "direct military support" to the opposition but did not specify whether it would include lethal aid, which would mark a reversal of Obama's resistance to arming the rebels. But the U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the package would include weapons. The proposal also calls for a limited no-fly zone inside Syria that would be enforced from Jordanian territory to protect Syrian refugees and rebels who would train there. Meanwhile, a Syrian rebel group's pledge of allegiance to al Qaeda's replacement for Osama bin Laden suggests that the terrorist group's influence is not waning and that it may take a greater role in the Western-backed fight to topple Assad. The pledge of allegiance by Syrian Jabhat al Nusra Front chief Abou Mohamad al-Joulani to al Qaeda leader Sheik Ayman al-Zawahri was coupled with an announcement by the al Qaeda affiliate in Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq, that it would work with al Nusra as well.
ACLJ Flooded With New IRS Discrimination Cases
Some have declared the Internal Revenue Service's tea party targeting scandal is over, but new complaints continue to pour in to the American Center for Law and Justice, which is already representing two dozen clients who faced IRS scrutiny, CBN News reports. Executive director Jordan Sekulow said that since the ACLJ filed a lawsuit last week on behalf of 25 organizations, they've been bombarded with requests for help. Sekulow said the ACLJ may have about 100 new possible cases of IRS discrimination. That includes reports of viewpoint discrimination by the IRS, with tax agents harassing a pro-life group by telling them their beliefs were not scientific. Sekulow said he believes the widespread IRS campaign against conservative groups was being directed by Washington, possibly White House officials. While he does not suggest there will be a "smoking gun" document, Sekulow points out that IRS officials visited the White House more times than even the U.S. attorney general, and President Obama publicly went after tea party groups during his campaign.
Brazil: Evangelicals Rally for Marriage
A rally that attracted more than 40,000 people last week to stand against homosexuality and abortion highlights the growing presence of evangelicals in Brazil, South America's largest country, WORLD reports. According to Reuters, there are 44 million mainly Pentecostal evangelicals in Brazil. Also, "in the last national election in 2010, evangelicals increased their presence in Congress by 50 percent and now have 68 seats in the Chamber of Deputies and three in the Senate. Though belonging to a dozen different parties, evangelicals have begun to act as a caucus in Brazil's fragmented legislature where only the farm lobby tends to speak with one voice."
Boy Scouts 'Disappoint' Southern Baptists
The Southern Baptist Convention, holding its national meeting in Houston, approved a resolution expressing disappointment in the Boy Scouts of America for allowing openly homosexual boys into the organization. The resolution also calls on the Boy Scouts to remove executive and board leaders who pushed for the policy change. The Southern Baptist Convention is the country's largest Protestant denomination, with 45,000 congregations and 16 million members. Baptist churches sponsor nearly 4,000 Scout units representing more than 100,000 youths, according to the Boy Scouts of America. Because Southern Baptist churches are autonomous, this resolution is not binding, but such resolutions are influential.
Publication date: June 17, 2013