Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world.
In today's edition:
Romney Asks Rev. Billy Graham to Pray for Him
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney met with the Rev. Billy Graham on Thursday, asking the evangelist to pray for him in the final weeks of the campaign, Brietbart.com reports. "I'll do all I can to help you," Graham, 93, told Romney. Graham and his son Franklin Graham met with Romney for 30 minutes on the Graham estate outside Asheville, N.C., where Romney held a campaign rally later that day. The meeting was closed to reporters, but photographers and video producers were brought in near the end, when the men appeared to be discussing the candidate's father, George Romney, whom Graham considered a friend. When Graham asked Romney what he could do for him, Romney answered, "Prayer is the most helpful thing you can do for me." Near the end of the meeting, Graham led a prayer for the Romneys, saying: "I'll do all I can to help you. And you can quote me on that." Romney and the Grahams also discussed religious freedom, religious persecution, Afghanistan and the growth of the Grahams' ministry in China, Sudan and North Korea, according to a readout of the meeting provided by a campaign aide.
Hobby Lobby's Request to Halt Contraception Mandate Gets Hearing Date
A judge has scheduled a hearing for Christian crafts retailer Hobby Lobby's request for preliminary injunction on the Health and Human Services mandate that would require the company to provide emergency contraceptive coverage or face steep fines, the Christian Post reports. The hearing will take place at 10 a.m. on Oct. 24 in Oklahoma City. Hobby Lobby's owner and founder, David Green, says the mandate violates their religious beliefs because it forces the business to provide insurance covering abortion-inducing drugs, such as the "morning-after" pill. When Hobby Lobby filed suit against the federal government in September, it became the first evangelical employer to challenge the mandate. Thirty-one lawsuits have been filed to date against the mandate, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2013.
University Suspends Official for Supporting Marriage
One of the 160,000 Marylanders who signed a petition to overturn the state's same-sex marriage law may lose her job as chief diversity officer at Gallaudet University for participating in an "inappropriate legislative initiative," WORLD News Service reports. Dr. Angela McCaskill -- the first deaf African-American woman to earn a doctorate from Gallaudet, which specializes in programs to accommodate deaf and hard-of-hearing students -- signed the petition in July. Because of the petitioners' efforts, voters in Maryland will have the opportunity to repeal the law creating same-sex marriage; a "no" vote on Question 6 would repeal the law. On Wednesday, Gallaudet president T. Alan Hurwitz placed a statement on the university's Facebook page indicating he had placed McCaskill on paid administrative leave immediately and would use the time to determine his next steps regarding the situation. "It recently came to my attention that Dr. McCaskill has participated in a legislative initiative some feel is inappropriate for an individual serving as Chief Diversity Officer," Hurwitz wrote. But Robert Muise, senior counsel at the American Freedom Law Center, says all Americans have the right to sign petitions. "This is just a microcosm of a really larger problem that I'm seeing across the country -- Christians who want to engage in their religious belief and express their views are being punished," Muise said.
U.S. Birth Rates Fall for Fourth Straight Year
The government reported last week that U.S. births fell for the fourth year in a row in 2011, though the fall has slowed down a bit, WORLD News Service reports. Americans typically have more children in robust economic times, and "it may be that the effect of the recession is slowly coming to an end," said Carl Haub, senior demographer with the Population Reference Bureau. Falling births is a relatively new phenomenon in the U.S.; births had been on the rise since the late 1990s and hit an all-time high of more than 4.3 million in 2007. But fewer than 4 million births were counted last year -- the lowest number since 1998. Meanwhile, birth rates for teen moms have been falling since 1991 and are at historic lows. Last year the drop was 8 percent, to about 330,000 teen births -- the lowest number since 1946.
Publication date: October 15, 2012