Religion Today Daily Headlines - September 17, 2012

Religion Today Daily Headlines - September 17, 2012

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

In today's edition:

  • Christian, Conservative Leaders Focus on Romney's Policies, Not Faith
  • Obama Refuses to Set 'Red Line' on Iran's Nuclear Program
  • California Bill Would Ban Therapy for Gay Teens
  • Sociologists: Worship at Megachurches May Induce Drug-Like 'High'


Christian, Conservative Leaders Focus on Romney's Policies, Not Faith

More than two dozen Christian and conservative leaders are trying to put the issue of presidential candidate Mitt Romney's Mormonism to rest by instead focusing on the policies outlined in the GOP's new national platform, the Religion News Service reports. Polls repeatedly show that, while most social conservatives favor Romney, nearly 25 percent express discomfort with his Mormon faith. In a letter delivered Sept. 7 to Romney, the leaders acknowledged that some conservatives had "tempered their enthusiasm for sound governing principles by their concern over differences in a candidate's theological doctrine" but said it was "time to remind ourselves that civil government is not about a particular theology but rather about public policy." The letter went on to say that the principles of the Republican platform -- with planks opposing abortion and defining marriage as between one man and one woman -- are "squarely within the Judeo-Christian tradition." Signers of the letter include Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, Samaritan's Purse president Franklin Graham, Focus on the Family president Jim Daly and GOP strategist Ralph Reed.

Obama Refuses to Set 'Red Line' on Iran's Nuclear Program

President Barack Obama says he won't spell out specific boundaries Iran can't cross in its nuclear program before facing U.S. military action, CBN News reports. In an hour-long conversation Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama refused Netanyahu's request to set limits on Iran and draw a "red line," such as the amount of near-weapons-grade uranium Iran can produce. But Obama did promise the U.S. would not allow Iran to produce a nuclear weapon. "The Israelis are worried that once Iran accumulates a bomb's worth of 20-percent-enriched uranium, it's an easy dash to get weapons-grade nuclear fuel," David Makovsky, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the New York Times. "Before they decide they're on their own, I think they want to know that they and Washington see eye-to-eye that this is a red line that cannot be passed."

California Bill Would Ban Therapy for Gay Teens

Minors with unwanted same-sex attractions could be prevented from receiving "reparative therapy" to combat their desires if California Gov. Jerry Brown signs a ban into law this month, Baptist Press reports. In a first-of-its-kind legislation, California would prohibit even parents who want their children to receive counseling. As gay-advocacy group Equality California sees it, "This abusive practice known as 'reparative therapy' or 'conversion therapy' is not based on science, but on homophobia and a callous disregard for the harm it causes to vulnerable youth." The measure, SB 1172, passed the state senate August 30 on a Democrat-led party-line vote of 22-12 after a similar vote in the state assembly. It is unclear whether Brown, a Democrat, will sign the bill before a Sept. 30 deadline. The pro-family Pacific Justice Institute has led the fight against the legislation and has vowed to file suit if it is signed into law. "We have never seen this level of restriction, prohibition and intrusion in the name of LGBT rights," said Brad Dacus, Pacific Justice Institute president. "We intend to vigorously pursue legal action if this unprecedented attack on family decision-making is signed into law."

Sociologists: Worship at Megachurches May Induce Drug-Like 'High'

A new study by University of Washington sociologists suggests that worship at megachurches may induce a drug-like spiritual "high" that helps explain these congregations' success, WORLD News Service reports. Scientists note that large gatherings around shared experiences, from concerts to football games, can trigger physiological reactions and "feelings of joy and transcendence." They say the brain releases a specific chemical, oxytocin, at higher rates during such events -- and the study indicates that worshipping at megachurches can have similar effects. Professor James Wellman, one of the co-authors, says megachurch attendees they interviewed recounted experiences of "unalloyed joy over and over again," leading the authors to say the feeling of going to a megachurch is "like a drug."

Publication date: September 17, 2012