Religion Today Daily Headlines - May 16, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - May 16, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Gallup: Slight Majority Say Homosexuality Morally Acceptable
  • Coptic Christians Fear Rise of Islamists on Eve of Presidential Elections
  • Sudanese Authorities Close Christian Offices in South Darfur
  • 'Ethnic Cleansing' of Christians in Sudan Continues


Gallup: Slight Majority Say Homosexuality Morally Acceptable

A new Gallup poll shows that a slight majority -- 54 percent -- of Americans believe homosexuality is morally acceptable, compared with 42 percent who say it is morally wrong, the Christian Post reports. Frank Newport, editor-in-chief for Gallup, said support for same-sex marriage tended to track closely with the belief that homosexuality was acceptable. "Overall, they're very close and they've kind of followed the same trend pattern if you look over time," he said. "So, basically, they're both rising together and falling together and so forth." According to the poll, 50 percent currently say same-sex marriage should be recognized by the law as valid. In 1999, only 35 percent said so. As for the fact that gay marriage receives greater support in polls than in state referendums -- evidenced by 31 states passing constitutional amendments to ban it -- Newport said there were two possible reasons: that the referendums were isolated to individual states while Gallup's poll was nationwide, and that the passage of referendums depends largely upon voter turnout and may not represent the state as a whole.

Coptic Christians Fear Rise of Islamists on Eve of Presidential Elections

A year ago, Christians in Egypt hoped the revolution would bring them equal rights. Instead, things are worse than ever before. With the country's first post-Mubarak elections set to begin May 23, many Christians fear the next president will turn Egypt into an even more restrictive Islamic government that will have no room for their community of at least 8.5 million, the Washington Post reports. Under Mubarak, Christians were treated like second-class citizens -- forced to get special permissions to build churches and subjected to hate crimes that went unpunished -- but now, with the race shaping up to a choice between Islamists and former members of Mubarak's government, most Christians are rallying behind the latter, despite past persecution. In addition to an increase in attacks on churches, Egyptian Christians have been terrified by other acts of aggression -- such as a a recent incident of Muslims slicing off a Christian man's ear -- and crackdowns on Christian protests by the military. "It scares me that maybe we could become Iran," said Amir Dous, a Coptic Christian.

Sudanese Authorities Close Christian Offices in South Darfur

Security agents in Sudan's South Darfur state have closed down the Nyala offices of the Sudan Council of Churches (SCC) and relief group Sudan Aid without explanation, Compass Direct News reports. Agents from the Sudanese National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) arrived at the organizations' compound in Nyala at 8 a.m. on April 22, ordering SCC staff members to hand over office keys and vehicles and telling them to leave immediately. Three staff members from Sudan Aid were arrested in the course of the closure and were taken to an undisclosed location. NISS agents also closed down a church clinic that was serving the needy in the area. The actions come as Christianity is increasingly regarded as a foreign faith to be excised from Sudan, which has begun transporting ethnic South Sudanese to South Sudan following the latter's recession last year. An estimated 350,000 ethnic South Sudanese, many of them Christian, remain in the Islamic north, with many never having lived anywhere else. Sources said the incident left churches in South Darfur -- one of five states that makes up the Darfur region -- deeply disturbed and frightened.

'Ethnic Cleansing' of Christians in Sudan Continues

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, sought by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity in Darfur, has vowed to rid the Nuba Mountains of Christians and those he claims are agents of the West, Compass Direct News reports. On April 20 he ordered the Sudanese military to rid South Kordofan state's Nuba Mountains of everyone who opposes his Islamic rule, and the past several weeks he has repeatedly declared jihad against the ethnic Nuba peoples, many of which are Christians. State-owned TV and radio play songs urging Muslims to "fight the infidels" in the Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile state and South Sudan and "cleanse the land" of their presence -- increasing the fears of ethnic South Sudanese Christians trapped in the hostile north. Humanitarian agencies consider the Islamic government's targeting of civilians in the Nuba Mountains an "ethnic cleansing" against non-Arab peoples in the multi-ethnic state, with the added incentive of ridding the area of Christians. Additionally, as military conflict escalated between Sudan and South Sudan last month, Bashir vowed to liberate South Sudan from what he described as "insects." Muslim leaders in Sudan, said to have ties with hard-line Muslim Salafists, have asserted that there should no longer be room for churches and Christians following South Sudan's secession on July 9, 2011.

Publication date: May 16, 2012