Religion Today Daily Headlines - June 25, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - June 25, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Jail Sentence Stands for Host of Home Bible Studies in Arizona
  • Police Chaplains Told to Stop Mentioning Jesus
  • Research Shows Growing Republican, Democratic 'God Gap'
  • India: Hindu Extremists Severely Beat Christians With Flashlights


Jail Sentence Stands for Host of Home Bible Studies in Arizona

A federal district court in Arizona ruled that a Phoenix homeowner who held weekly Bible studies in his backyard must serve jail time for failing to comply with building, zoning, fire and safety codes applicable to churches, Christianity Today reports. In 2008, the city of Phoenix ordered Michael Salman to comply with code requirements for a church after neighbors complained about his Bible studies, which drew 50 people to a gazebo in his backyard. Salman refused, saying the order violated his free exercise rights, and was fined $12,000, sentenced to 60 days in jail and given three years of probation, during which he could not have more than 12 people in his home. On Friday, the federal district court dismissed Salman's attempt to halt the judgment because a lower federal court had already heard his complaint and dismissed it for failing to first exhaust his legal options at the state level.

Police Chaplains Told to Stop Mentioning Jesus

Volunteer chaplains in North Carolina's Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department will no longer be allowed to invoke the name of Jesus in prayers at public events held on government property, Fox News reports. Pastor Terry Sartain, who has "prayed in the name of Jesus" for the seven years he has ministered to police officers and their families, was scheduled to give an invocation at a promotion ceremony, but received a phone call from his superior major before the event telling him he could no longer use the name of Jesus. The police department wanted him to deliver a "secular prayer," he said. "Even when I wasn't a Christian -- in my past -- I didn't even know what a secular prayer was." Sartain said the decision put him in a difficult position -- "You don't want to compromise your faith ... [but] at the same time you want to honor those who are in charge over you" -- so he asked the police department to withdraw his name from consideration for future public prayers. "I'm very sad about it," he said. "Christians for the most part are targeted in these days that we exist in." According to Major John Diggs, who oversees the chaplain program, the policy is a "matter of respecting that people may have different faiths" and is "not aimed at any one religion or denomination."

Research Shows Growing Republican, Democratic 'God Gap'

A new report by the Pew Research Center shows more evidence of a growing religious divide between Republicans and Democrats, the Christian Post reports. For the last couple decades, election exit polls have shown that those who attend religious services frequently are more likely to vote Republican, while those who attend less frequently, or are nonreligious, have been more likely to vote for Democrats -- a split sometimes called the "God gap." Republicans and Democrats used to be nearly identical in their belief in the existence of God, but Democrats have seen a steady decline over the past decade. While 92 percent of Republicans in 2012 say they never doubt the existence of God, compared with 91 percent in 1987, the proportion of Democrats saying they never doubt the existence of God has dropped 11 percentage points since 1987 to 77 percent in 2012.

India: Hindu Extremists Severely Beat Christians With Flashlights

Forty armed Hindu radicals in India barged into the home of a convert from Hinduism to Christianity on June 9 to forcibly re-convert him, International Christian Concern reports. Christian convert Manesor Rabha had been living in hiding, aware that there was a threat on his life for his conversion. His home was being protected by two fellow believers, Michael Rabha and Prashanto Rabha. The extremists took the two men, along with Manesor's wife, Mala, to the village club house, where they interrogated them and told them to recant their faith. When they refused, the extremists beat them severely with large flashlights. All three sustained serious injuries, Prashanto left barely breathing, and were taken to the hospital. The government is providing security to the victims, who are being kept in isolation in the hospital and are not allowed to see visitors. ICC confirmed that many believers in Manesor's village have fled persecution to go to safe places. Their houses were broken into, cattle were stolen and belongings were destroyed or looted. "While we are encouraged that the government is actively working to protect these victims, it is imperative that the perpetrators are brought to justice," said Corey Bailey, ICC regional manager for Asia. "Unfortunately, more often than not, the radicals operate with impunity."

Publication date: June 25, 2012