Religion Today Daily Headlines - May 16, 2013

Religion Today Daily Headlines - May 16, 2013

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

In today's edition:


Franklin Graham: IRS Targeted Us, Too

The IRS also came after Billy Graham, his son charged Tuesday in a letter to President Barack Obama, POLITICO reports. Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse, said the IRS notified the organizations in September that it was conducting a "review" of their activities for tax year 2010. With the IRS admitting it gave extra scrutiny to conservative political organizations, Graham says he now believes that the review was part of an Obama administration effort of "targeting and attempting to intimidate us." The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association's urging of voters to back "candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel" during last year's presidential race was the reason why IRS agents visited the North Carolina offices of both Graham groups, the letter accuses. "While these audits not only wasted taxpayer money, they wasted money contributed by donors for ministry purposes as we had to spend precious resources servicing the IRS agents in our offices," Graham wrote in the letter. "I believe that someone in the administration was targeting and attempting to intimidate us. This is morally wrong and unethical -- indeed some would call it 'un-American.'" Graham said that "in light" of the IRS admission that it targeted tea party groups for added scrutiny, "I do not believe that the IRS audit of our two organizations last year is a coincidence -- or justifiable."

Gosnell Avoids Death Penalty

Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of killing three babies born alive, agreed to give up his right to an appeal in order to avoid a possible death sentence, WORLD reports. Gosnell was convicted Monday of first-degree murder in the deaths of three babies who were delivered alive and then killed with scissors. The 72-year-old abortionist gave up his appeal rights Tuesday, with prosecutors agreeing to two life sentences without parole. Gosnell was sentenced to another life sentence Wednesday in the death of the third baby, and was also sentenced to between two and a half to five years for the overdose death of a patient. Although prosecutors charged Gosnell with third-degree murder in the patient's death, the jury found him guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Before he was led away to start his prison sentence, the judge asked Gosnell if he wanted to say anything, and he replied, "Not at this time." Prosecutors had sought the death penalty because Gosnell was convicted of killing more than one person and his victims were especially vulnerable given their age, but Gosnell's advanced age made it unlikely he would ever be executed before his appeals ran out.

U.S. Court Denies German Homeschool Family Asylum

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the Obama administration's refusal to grant asylum to a German homeschooling family, CBN News reports. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder filed against the Romeike family, arguing that asylum should not be granted because homeschooling is not a fundamental right protected under religious freedom. The Romeikes fled Germany in 2008, facing criminal prosecution for homeschooling. In 2010, they were granted political asylum by immigration judge Lawrence Burman, but his decision was overturned by the Board of Immigration Appeals last year. On Tuesday, the three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit issued a unanimous decision against the family. While the 6th Circuit did acknowledge that the U.S. Constitution recognizes the right of parents to homeschool, it refused to grant that what the Romeikes face amounts to persecution deserving of asylum. The Romeikes said they were disappointed but said, "God is in control." They know what they face in Germany if they are deported: "First, they would fine us with increasingly high fines and they would threaten to take away custody. There might be jail time too, but the main threat is the aspect of custody because then of course the children are taken away from you completely and that's what no family wants." The Home School Legal Defense Association plans to appeal the decision.

Nigerian President Declares State of Emergency

Nigeria's president declared a state of emergency Tuesday across the country's troubled northeast, promising to send more troops to fight an increasingly violent Islamic insurgency, Fox News reports. The Islamist group Boko Haram has intensified its attacks on security forces and government targets this month, prompting President Goodluck Jonathan to declare a state of emergency in certain states. Last week, dozens of Boko Haram fighters laid siege to the town of Bama, in Borno state, killing 55 and freeing more than 100 prison inmates. Days earlier, scores were killed in the fishing village of Baga, also in Borno, when troops from Nigeria, Niger and Chad raided it looking for Islamists. Local residents said soldiers were responsible for many civilian deaths. Jonathan also warned that any building suspected to house Islamic extremists would be taken over in what he described as the "war" now facing Africa's most populous nation. However, it's unclear what the emergency powers will do to halt the violence, as a similar past effort failed to stop the bloodshed.

Publication date: May 16, 2013